The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Pen­tagon in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial Michael Vick­ers and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil coun­tert­er­ror­ism ad­viser John Bren­nan are be­ing looked at by Pres­i­dent Obama as top can­di­dates to head the CIA.

Both of­fi­cials have their de­trac­tors. Mr. Vick­ers, cur­rently un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for in­tel­li­gence, was brought in to the Pen­tagon by then-De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld and op­posed the troop surge in Iraq.

Mr. Vick­ers an­gered con­ser­va­tives af­ter an ar­ti­cle in 2007 in The Washington Post praised him as the “prin­ci­pal strate­gist” for the CIA covert op­er­a­tion to arm Afghan rebels in the 1970s, and he was in­ac­cu­rately por­trayed in a 2003 book and 2007 movie, “Char­lie Wil­son’s War,” as a lead­ing fig­ure in what was por­trayed as CIA success in the Afghan pro­gram.

Former Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said the CIA ve­he­mently op­posed the covert pro­gram to send Stinger an­ti­air­craft mis­siles to the Afghans and was over­ruled. The mis­siles helped de­feat the Sovi­ets and be­gan the un­rav­el­ing of the en­tire Soviet em­pire.

The now-de­ceased Fred Ikle, a key Pen­tagon pol­i­cy­maker in the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion, crit­i­cized the movie and said the CIA ini­tially fought against send­ing Stingers, while Mr. Wil­son, a former Demo­cratic con­gress­man from Texas who died in 2010, was luke­warm.

“Se­nior peo­ple in the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion, the pres­i­dent, [CIA Di­rec­tor] Bill Casey, [De­fense Sec­re­tary Cas­par] Wein­berger and their aides de­serve credit for the suc­cess­ful Afghan covert-ac­tion pro­gram, not just Char­lie Wil­son,” Mr. Ikle said in 2007.

Mr. Vick­ers also has no fans among many spe­cial-op­er­a­tions com­man­dos and pol­icy of­fi­cials for his han­dling of covert op­er­a­tions while as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary for spe­cial op­er­a­tions and low-in­ten­sity con­flict, his pre­vi­ous Pen­tagon po­si­tion. He was crit­i­cized by mil­i­tary spe­cial op­er­a­tors for fa­vor­ing in­tel­li­gence meth­ods over ag­gres­sive com­mando ac­tiv­i­ties that might have found Osama bin Laden years ear­lier.

Mr. Bren­nan, a ca­reer CIA an­a­lyst, has been ma­jor tar­get of some na­tional-se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists who say he is the mas­ter­mind be­hind the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy of play­ing down the Is­lamist na­ture of ter­ror­ism.

It was Mr. Bren­nan, th­ese crit­ics say, who has tried to ban­ish the term “Is­lamist ter­ror” from be­ing used by the ad­min­is­tra­tion. In­stead, Mr. Bren­nan has di­rected that Is­lamic ji­had, or holy war, be re­ferred to as the more po­lit­i­cally cor­rect term “vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.” That in turn has led to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s em­bar­rass­ment of call­ing the Fort Hood ter­ror­ist at­tack “work­place vi­o­lence.”

The fail­ure to iden­tify the Is­lamic na­ture of the war on ter­ror­ism has led to con­fu­sion over the na­ture of the en­emy, and lim­ited strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion and other strate­gic ef­forts to at­tack ide­olo­gies be­hind groups such as al Qaeda and the Mus­lim Brother­hood.

One of­fi­cial said that as CIA di­rec­tor, Mr. Bren­nan would be un­der Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence James Clap­per and would lose his cur­rent walk­ingdis­tance ac­cess to the pres­i­dent.

Mr. Bren­nan also re­mains one of the few ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who has been silent on the dis­as­ter in Beng­hazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, when a poorly armed CIA and State De­part­ment out­post was at­tacked by al Qaeda-linked ter­ror­ists killing four Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing U.S. am­bas­sador to Libya J. Christo­pher Stevens.

Mr. Bren­nan is a fo­cus of con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors try­ing to find out who al­tered the orig­i­nal CIA talk­ing points on the Beng­hazi at­tack by re­mov­ing ref­er­ences to al Qaeda and ter­ror­ism and in­stead re­fer­ring to “ex­trem­ists” who were part of the at­tack.

Crit­ics have said the changes to the CIA guid­ance amounted to the politi­ciza­tion of in­tel­li­gence that sought to play down the ter­ror­ist na­ture of the at­tack — days af­ter Mr. Obama said in his ac­cep­tance speech at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion that al Qaeda was on the path to de­feat.

The talk­ing points were used by U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Su­san E. Rice on five Sun­day tele­vi­sion talks shows when she as­serted er­ro­neously that the Beng­hazi at­tack was the re­sult of a spon­ta­neous demon­stra­tion.

Nei­ther Mr. Vick­ers nor Mr. Bren­nan could be reached for com­ment. Both failed to re­turn emails ask­ing about their can­di­da­cies for the CIA post. on the is­sue of China’s rapidly ex­pand­ing mil­i­tary.

The new DIA an­a­lyst would ad­vise the agency’s more than 12,000 mil­i­tary and civil­ian em­ploy­ees world­wide and will hold one of two se­nior po­si­tions as “prin­ci­pal China in­tel­li­gence ad­viser and se­nior ex­pert on China mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties” for the Pa­cific Com­mand’s di­rec­tor of in­tel­li­gence, known as J-2, and the Joint In­tel­li­gence Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter. A sec­ond an­a­lyst fo­cuses mainly on “China strate­gic is­sues.”

“Th­ese two [an­a­lysts] col­lab­o­rate to pro­vide in­te­grated, au­thor­i­ta­tive ad­vice to mil­i­tary com­man­ders, se­nior De­part­ment of De­fense (DoD) of­fi­cials, and other US government agen­cies and US al­lies and part­ners on wide-rang­ing is­sues re­lated to China and Tai­wan,” states the De­fense De­part­ment’s un­usu­ally can­did an­nounce­ment ad­ver­tis­ing for the po­si­tion.

The new of­fi­cial will de­velop in­tel­li­gence anal­y­sis on Chi­nese mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties “in­clud­ing com­plex as­sess­ments that may be pre­dic­tive in na­ture.”

The an­a­lyst also will pre­pare and present brief­ings to se­nior de­ci­sion-mak­ers and in­tel­li­gence lead­ers on is­sues and pro­grams “that may be con­sid­ered con­tro­ver­sial due to their prece­dentset­ting na­ture.”

That word­ing, ac­cord­ing to U.S. of­fi­cials, is an oblique ref­er­ence to the on­go­ing de­bate in­side U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies on Chi­nese mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments and specif­i­cally Bei­jing’s strate­gic in­ten­tions.

Most China hands cur­rently in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity are known to share the “be­nign China” out­look that ar­gues that China poses lit­tle or no threat, is only nom­i­nally a nu­clear-armed com­mu­nist state, and must be shielded from anti-com­mu­nist con­ser­va­tives who want to turn it into a Cold War en­emy.

How­ever, more “re­al­ist” in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials are gain­ing in­flu­ence in government, hav­ing long ago aban­doned the “be­nign China” view. They see China as the most se­ri­ous na­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenge and one that the U.S. mil­i­tary ur­gently needs to take steps now to de­ter and de­feat in a fu­ture con­flict.

Other mis­sions for the new DIA China an­a­lyst will in­clude de­vel­op­ing and lead­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion on Chi­nese mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties among the Pa­cific Com­mand, other in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and U.S. mil­i­tary com­mands and al­lies.

The new an­a­lyst also will col­lab­o­rate with the Pen­tagon, other government agen­cies and for­eign and other U.S. part­ners “to fill in­tel­li­gence gaps and re­solve an­a­lytic dif­fer­ences on crit­i­cal is­sues.”

“In­tel­li­gence gaps” is code for what U.S. of­fi­cials say are the numer­ous short­com­ings in find­ing out about the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s weapons pro­grams, and strat­egy and tac­tics.

Sev­eral in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials are vy­ing for the slot that comes with the added perk of liv­ing in Hawaii.

The Pa­cific Com­mand is known to be a ma­jor tar­get of Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions.

In 2006, Hawaii-based Pa­cific Com­mand of­fi­cial Ron­ald N. Mon­ta­perto, a former DIA China an­a­lyst, pleaded guilty to the il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments and ad­mit­ted in a plea agree­ment that he passed “top se­cret” in­for­ma­tion to Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.


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