INTEL WARS: The Lessons for U.S. Intelligence From Today’s Battlefields

13 February 2012National Security Archive

For more information contact: Tom Blanton – 202/994-7000 |

Washington, D.C., February 13, 2012 – Spendthrift, schizophrenic policies and a massive, multi-tiered bureaucracy more focused on preserving secrets than on mission accomplishment leave our intelligence operatives drowning in raw data, resource-starved, and choked on paperwork, according to a new book, Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror (Bloomsbury Press, 2012), by intelligence historian Matthew Aid. Excerpts from the book and declassified documents cited in it were posted today by the National Security Archive, where Aid is a Visiting Fellow.

Even after the celebrated raid by U.S. Navy SEAL commandos in May 2011, which killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, America‘s spies are still struggling to beat a host of ragtag enemies around the world, Aid argues.

Thanks to more than $500 billion in taxpayer dollars spent on revamping and modernizing America‘s spy networks since 9/11, the U.S. today has the largest and most technologically sophisticated intelligence community in the world, consisting of 210,000 employees, CIA stations in 170 countries, and an annual budget of more than $75 billion. Armed with cutting-edge surveillance gear, high-tech weapons, and fleets of armed and unarmed drone aircraft, the U.S. intelligence community is now producing more and better intelligence than at any time in its history.

But, according to Aid, overlapping jurisdictions and bureaucratic inertia often stall intelligence operations, such as U.S. military operators in Afghanistan who have to wait seventy-two hours for clearance to attack fast-moving Taliban IED teams planting explosive devices. U.S. military computers – their classified hard drives still in place – turn up for sale at Afghan bazaars. When you dig beneath the surface, swift, tightly focused intelligence-driven operations like the Osama bin Laden raid seem to be the exception rather than the rule, Aid concludes.

Intel Wars – based on extensive, on-the-ground interviews, dozens of declassified documents, and revelations from Wikileaks cables – shows how our soldier-spies are still fighting to catch up with the enemy.

Today’s posting of 12 documents consists of a selection of reports and memoranda cited in Intel Wars concerning the role played by the U.S. intelligence community in today’s military conflicts and crises, particularly in Afghanistan.

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive website –

Intel Wars author Matthew Aid will be appearing tonight, February 13, 7pm at Politics and Prose

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, District Of Columbia
United States

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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