NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

House Report Rips Into Intelligence Community

May 18, 2000

In a scathing report released yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee sharply criticized the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other elements of the nation's intelligence apparatus. It said poor organization, inadequate funding and a lack of aggressive leadership have eroded their ability to face new threats and made them prone to serious errors.

  • It charged that broad, systemic problems were behind a series of costly mistakes -- ranging from the CIA's failure to predict that India would test nuclear weapons to the mistaken bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
  • It also expressed anger at the handling of a series of security breaches at the State Department.
  • It charged that espionage by spies operating overseas is now stretched too thin by demands from policy makers to provide support for military operations and other emergencies in developing countries.
  • Technical intelligence programs -- from spy satellites to eavesdropping and code-breaking operations -- also came in for tough criticism.

The report concluded that the National Security Agency -- the super-secret eavesdropping and code-breaking office -- "is seemingly incapable of responding in an integrated fashion" to the challenges posed by the spread of new global networks that tie together radio, satellite microwave, cellular and cable traffic.

Source: James Risen, "Intelligence Agencies Not Up to the Job, Lawmakers Report," New York Times, May 18, 2000.


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