Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
Why are U.S. spies, generals and national security officials surprised so often?
Pardon for a moment my shopworn tale from my brief brilliant career as a spy many wars ago. I bring it up only in service of a point about the “alarm” U.S. officials expressed last week about a drone attack on a “secret” CIA facility in Iraq.
That “alarm” is just not credible, but if it is, we’re in deeper trouble than I thought we were. Could U.S. intelligence officials, with $86 billion a year to spend, really have been shocked by Iran-backed militias deploying drones to attack U.S. targets in Iraq? Implausible. More likely, they’re in denial or just not coming clean about their diminishing chances of reversing the advance of militant Islamist groups, not just in Iraq, but across much of what we used to call the Third World.
But back to my story: In late 1968 I arrived in South Vietnam as a newly minted case officer—aka spy recruiter and handler. On my first night in DaNang, I accompanied my teammates to a cocktail party at the U.S. consulate. En ro…