US intel community killed its own credibility by revealing its Ukraine policies — Analysis

It is possible to use disinformation to defeat an enemy. It is one thing to spread disinformation to an enemy’s public or policymakers.

For decades, the US intelligence agency has maintained that its fundamental value was integrity in finding truth. In March 1992, Robert Gates, who at that time was serving as director of Central Intelligence, addressed the CIA’s analytical community on the issue of politicized intelligence. 

“Bourne Cockran [note: an Irish-American politician known for his oratory skills who mentored Winston Churchill],”Gates stated, “wrote to Winston Churchill in 1895 that, ‘What the people really want to hear is the truth – it is the exciting thing – speak the simple truth. Twenty years later, Churchill himself wrote, ‘The truth is incontrovertible; panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may destroy it, but there it is.’ Truth, insofar as we can determine it, is what our [i.e., the CIA’s] work is all about.”

Gates also pointed out that “because seeking truth is what we [the CIA] are all about as an institution, as professionals, and as individuals, the possibility – even the perception – that that quest may be tainted deeply troubles us, as it long has and as it should.”

The “taint” Gates was speaking of was the politicization of intelligence. Gates stated that when defining the taint Gates used this term: “it involves deliberately distorting analysis or judgments to favor a preferred line of thinking irrespective of evidence.”

The unnamed sources have recently confirmed to NBC News, that the US government declassified intelligence for sharing with allies in an effort to prevent and disrupt Russian plotting. “undermine Moscow’s propaganda and prevent  Russia from defining how the war is perceived in the world,”It appears, on the surface at least, that this process does not fall prey to the dangers of politicization as laid out 30 years ago by Gates. These unnamed officials claim that this disclosure process was actually a public one. “underpinned by a rigorous review process by the National Security Council and the Intelligence Community to validate the quality of the information and protect sources and methods.”This was followed by that “we only approve the release of intelligence if we are confident those two requirements are met.”

It’s not happening so quick. 

The same NBC News report says: “Multiple US officials acknowledged that the US has used information as a weapon even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high. Sometimes,” the report noted, “it has used low-confidence intelligence.” The purpose for using intelligence which, to quote NBC News, “wasn’t rock solid”, was to deter Russian actions by keeping Russian President Vladimir Putin “off balance.”

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So much for the intelligence community’s commitment to the “incontrovertible truth.”

We all know that Ukraine is a capable and expansive information warfare power. Units such as the Ukrainian Intelligence Service’s 72nd Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO) have been carrying out a sophisticated propaganda campaign designed to enhance the perception of Ukrainian strength and resolve while denigrating the Russian special military operation underway in Ukraine. Russia saw the 72nd PSO as a serious threat and targeted it for destruction at its headquarters in conflict.

Moreover, it has been reported that, in the aftermath of the February 2014 “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine, the US intelligence community has initiated and maintained in-depth contacts with their Ukrainian intelligence and security counterparts, a relationship which has only expanded in scope and scale over the course of the preceding eight years. The logic dictates that Russia information operations are a joint area of interest. This is why the US will be supporting Ukraine in these efforts following the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war on February 24, 2022.

It is a legal use of intelligence information to provide declassified intelligence to Ukraine in order to allow it to be repackaged for dissemination as anti-Russian propaganda. In certain circumstances, US intelligence agencies may also use fake information in order to give life and credibility to a narrative that is intended to weaken the activities of an enemy. These conditions require that the information can’t be used to source back to the US. Furthermore, and most important, the information shouldn’t be shared in a manner that could misinform US policymakers.

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Unnamed US security officers admitted that they are releasing substandard intelligence (i.e. potentially false or misleading), in order to create a narrative for civilians at home and abroad. This is an extreme deviation from conventional precepts of covert Information Warfare. This is actually a great example of how analysis and judgements can be deliberately distorted in pursuit of an objective without regard to evidence, as Robert Gates warned of back in 1992.  

“The absolute integrity of our analysis,” Gates said, “is the most important of the core values of the Central Intelligence Agency. Policymakers, the Congress, and the American people must know that our views – right or wrong – represent our best and most objective possible effort to describe the threats and opportunities facing the United States. They must know our assessments are the product of the highest quality and the most honest intelligence analysis available anywhere in the world.”

It’s not anymore.

Gates quoted Churchill to support the truth. Churchill would go on to state famously that “in wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” By this statement, Churchill was underscoring the fact that truth is such a precious commodity that it must be guarded by deception and subterfuge to ensure it didn’t fall into enemy hands. 

The US intelligence community has, today, perverted that logic, eliminating any notion of actual truth while elevating the “bodyguard of lies” to mimic truth, not for the purpose of defending it, but rather to promulgate the lie itself. 

The US intelligence has been on thin ice ever since it used politicized information to justify war on Iraq in 2003. Now, the revelations that the US intelligence community is releasing sub-standard intelligence, knowing that it might be false and misleading, to shape US and global public opinion against Russia, should drive a stake through the heart of US credibility – or at the very least make the American public, and the world community, ask themselves whether they can ever again take US intelligence assertions at face value.

These opinions, statements and thoughts are the sole opinion of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of RT.



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