The CIA failed to give adequate warning to the Obama administration of the impending insurgence of Islamic militants in Iraq despite having a significant presence of agency officers in the country, U.S. officials and security analysts told The Washington Free Beacon.
"This is an absolute intelligence failure on the part of the CIA," Bill Cowan, a former Special Forces officer who worked as a contractor in Iraq, told the Beacon.
According to the Beacon, during the U.S. presence in Iraq, military agencies set up extensive human and electronic spying throughout the country, and developed a clear picture of the insurgents, including officials who served under Saddam Hussein who are currently at the heart of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
A Kurdish security official with the regional government in northern Iraq said intelligence about key figures in the ISIS movement, the locations of its training camps, and military movements was provided to both Baghdad and western intelligence agencies, the Beacon reported.
"It all fell on deaf ears," Rooz Bahjay told the Beacon. "The west failed to act, and now it's failing to react. The longer they wait, the more people are going to be killed."
The CIA denied any intelligence failures.
"Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on [ISIS] and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation," said CIA spokesman Christopher White, according to the Beacon.
But a senior intelligence official acknowledged that intelligence had decreased significantly after the military withdrawal, and former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht said the CIA cannot operate properly without military support in the country, the Beacon reported.
"The CIA just doesn't have the muscle to undertake this type of work," he said. "There's just no intel substitute for boots on the ground."
A number of senior lawmakers insist, however, that blame should not be placed on the agency, but on the administration.
"The intelligence community makes its fair share of mistakes and I am the first to criticize them when they do," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on the Senate floor earlier this month, according to the Free Beacon.
"But these recent events, including the resurgence of [ISIS], are not an intelligence failure. They are policy and leadership failures," he said.
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