Faulty China intel
The annual report by the congressional U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, released recently, calls for improving U.S. intelligence on China’s military buildup.
“The commission recommends that Congress instruct the director of national intelligence, working with the Department of Defense, to formulate and establish a more effective program for assessing the nature, extent and strategic and tactical implications of China’s military modernization and development,” the report stated.
The recommendation is a rare open criticism of U.S. intelligence related to Beijing’s growing military buildup.
Defense officials tell us the main cause of poor U.S. intelligence estimates and analyses of the Chinese arms buildup is a pervasive bias among senior U.S. intelligence and policy-makers who have sought to play down or dismiss China’s military efforts as nonthreatening.
Among the key players is Thomas Fingar, a China specialist who is the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Another is Lonnie Henley, the deputy national intelligence officer for East Asia, who was recently investigated for supporting a former Defense Intelli- gence Agency analyst who illegally retained classified documents and passed top-secret intelligence to the Chinese military. A third key figure in numerous intelligence failures on the Chinese military is White House National Security Council Asia Director Dennis Wilder, who for years headed CIA analyses of the Chinese military and whose career is marked by frequent underestimates of the buildup.
The commission recommendation reflects a highly classified intelligence report produced last year that concluded U.S. intelligence analysts missed more than a dozen key military developments related to China’s military for a decade.
Among the failures were China’s development of a new long-range cruise missile; deployment of a new warship equipped with a stolen Chinese version of the U.S. Aegis battle management technology; deployment of a new attack submarine that was missed by U.S. intelligence; development of precision-guided munitions; and the importation of advanced weaponry, including Russian submarines, warships and fighterbombers.