Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who needs intelligence?

Apparently not the State Department's lead man on South Asian Affairs.

Today the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on US-Pakistan relations with regard to the war in Afghanistan.
Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs was the sole witness.

The front page of today's Washington Post reports that the Bush Administration's National Counterterrorism Center has written a threat assessment report stating that al-Qaeda is gaining strength and has established a safe haven in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, on the Afghan border.

A large portion of the over three hour hearing entitled "Pakistan at the Crossroads; Afghanistan in the Balance," was devoted to the Pakistan's ungoverned tribal region of Waziristan, where al-Qaeda has allegedly established a safe haven and where militants are freely crossing the Pakistan-Afghan border.

When Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked Secretary Boucher to comment on the intelligence report, Boucher replied that he was not familiar with the report. Congressman Van Hollen pressed him, incredulous that the Washington Post had more to say about a report with potentially huge policy implications than the “top analyst for South Asia in the State Department."

"I guess the Washington Post was briefed before me," Boucher quipped.

Like Congressman Van Hollen, I find this lack of adequate intelligence at the State Department disconcerting.

Then again, what good are intelligence reports if our nation's leaders don't even bother to read them, and vote to authorize war anyway.

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