With over 30 years in the CIA, SpyGuy answers some frequently asked questions about current issues in the SPY world.
SpyGuy’s Q & A
Q. You were an Intelligence operative for over 30 years; don’t you think Obama is throwing in the towel on the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)? In March this year, the Pentagon even stopped using the words, “the GWOT” but instead began referring to an “Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO).” We hear the same from DHS Secretary Napolitano, State Secretary Clinton, and other Administration mouthpieces.
Reply: Words make a difference. Look at the wrangling over our goal in Afghanistan. Are we trying to “win” or “succeed?” They’re not the same. Using one instead of the other is critical to rallying the government and the country around a common goal. Too, the “GWOT” raised Osama’s band of murderous fanatics to world stature instead of labeling them more precisely as a small gang of extremists operating on the fringe of one of the world’s great religions.
Q. Will ratcheting down our goals then enable Obama to change course away from the previous vigorous campaign against al-Qaeda?
Reply: It sure doesn’t sound like it. His advisor on terrorism John Brennan spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on 6 August, saying that the President wants to focus on the real adversaries, al-Qaeda and its allies, and not just on “terror” which is simply a term describing a tactic, not an adversary.
Q. Okay, but do you really think this Administration is going to go after Al Qaeda as vigorously as Bush did? Obama seems to be just running around talking to everyone with no action.
Reply: Brennan was emphatic: “Obama will not tolerate Afghanistan or any other country being a base for terrorists determined to kill Americans.” Al Qaeda, Brennan said, is the most serious threat we face as a nation and Obama has….a clear policy – “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda and its allies.” He said Obama has approved operations against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and encouraged his counterterrorism forces to be more aggressive, more proactive and more innovative….to seek out new ways and new opportunities to take down the terrorists. Now, that’s more than just running around. Those words would leave no doubt in my mind as an Intelligence professional about the President’s mandate.
Q. Why are you people in Intelligence so hung up on wordsmithing and definitions? Can’t you just go out and do your jobs?
Reply: Because knowing what the Chief Executive wants is our job. We’ve learned the hard way that Intelligence gathering and covert action are nearly worthless unless they’re in response to policymakers’ needs and in sync with the country’s foreign policy.