The CIA hasn’t eliminated the flaws that limited its effectiveness prior to the 9/11 attacks, says former CIA agent Ishmael Jones, a pseudonym for the author of a prominent book about the agency.
And that ineffectiveness means we will almost certainly face another terrorist attack at some point, he tells Newsmax.TV.
“It’s just a matter of time,” says Jones, author of “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture.”
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He warns against U.S. overconfidence. “Nuclear weapons and 1930s technology are easier and easier to acquire,” says Jones. “That’s our threat. They could strike us at anytime if we don’t do a better job on intelligence. We have a terrorist attack coming in the future absolutely.”
He’s disappointed with the leadership of the CIA under Leon Panetta, saying the agency's director represents more of the same.
“I thought the appointment of Panetta would be a hopeful thing, because as a politician he would have close connections to the president and therefore power to make changes,” Jones says.
“But unfortunately he’s just brought the seamy side of politics. He’s a leaker, he’s a player. He’s not a leader. So there hasn’t been the change we need.”
Jones spent 15 years working for the CIA in human intelligence in various countries. Most experts believe human intelligence is vital, he notes.
“After 9/11, Congress gave the CIA $3.5 billion to get more officers on the street in foreign countries,” Jones says.
“This money was spent without essentially a single new effective officer appearing on a foreign street. A lot of people were hired, but they’re stacked up in buildings in the D.C. area and throughout the U.S., where they’re ineffective.”
It’s a violation of the CIA’s charter to have more than 90 percent of its employees living and working entirely in the United States, he says.
The problem is not a lack of foreign-language speakers, Jones says. “I think the place was chalk full of foreign-language speakers,” he says. But those skills aren’t being used properly.
“This is one of the ploys the CIA has always done when there’s an intelligence failure,” Jones says. “They go to Congress and say we need better people who speak languages and can pose as different nationalities. Give us another $3 billion over five years, and we’ll deliver that.”
Bottom line: “The CIA already has all the talent it needs. It just has weak leadership,” he says.
Jones approves of the clandestine overseas prisons established by former President George W. Bush. They served an important purpose, and Jones says colleagues of his who worked at them saw no torture.
“They’d capture a young terrorist, be nice to him, and he’d start talking,” allowing them to foil imminent terrorist attacks, Jones says.
But he feels differently about waterboarding. “In human intelligence, we have to use volunteer information, not anything derived by torture.”
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