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24 January 2015


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I will hear TTG's and other opinions before I comment. pl


Dear Colonel Lang,
Sorry for the off-topic request, but both you and Walrus have before informed your readers about the war in Ukraine, and I would dearly love to hear your opinion on the contents on the following post of mine, which (perhaps unfortunately) might fall within the Colonel's past experience:
This link is for my English-speaking friends, who most likely for quite some time filter out highly depressing posts and videos about the senseless bloody war in eastern Ukraine. This short video excerpt doesn't require translation, but begs for some explanation.
Today the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region of Ukraine came under artillery fire which caused numerous civilian casualties. As always, both the Ukrainian government and the Donetsk separatists deny responsibility. The video is a report by local TV news about the aftermath. The scariest moment (for an American) comes at about 2:32 mark - the journalist tries to talk to a passer by - an armed uniformed soldier, as he covers his face and hurries away, saying: "Out of my face! Out of my face, please!" - in what sounds to me like native American English.
Wow! If the guy is a volunteer fighting for a cause - why cover the face? If he works for our government - shouldn't we know about that? Or is he from some private outfit like Blackwater (Xe) - not that it would be any better? I wonder if some journalist would ask a Pentagon spokesman about that peculiar episode.
Thanks in advance


I think that the merger is a dangerous one. I think of what Gareth Porter writes about Operation Merlin.

It appears that the CIA had the idea of doing this covert op that involved pushing an unusable nuclear trigger to Iran and other countries, and for that they needed whitehouse approval. During that push the CIA changed their assessment regarding Iran, saying for the first time that the Iranians had a nuclear weapons program.

It reads as if they changed the assessment to better justify the operation.

"The CIA did not claim that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme when the planning of the operation began in 1996, and continued to offer no firm conclusion about Iran’s nuclear intentions through 1998.

Only in mid-1999, when the CIA needed to justify the operation to get White House approval for it, did it insert one reference to “Iran’s nuclear weapons research and development programme” into its regular half-yearly intelligence assessment of Iran’s WMD policy for the first time.

The cables show that sometime in 1996, the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division (CPD) came up with the idea of getting experts at a national laboratory to design a key part in a nuclear explosive device called a “fireset” or “firing set”, among other terms, that was so seriously flawed that it could not be made to work. The device would then be dangled in front of Iran, in the belief that the Iranians would snap it up and expend huge amounts of time, money and manpower to try to get it work.

In September 1996, the CPD started looking for a Russian émigré nuclear weapons specialist “asset” who knew about “fireset” technology. As a result, CPD recruited a former senior Russian engineer identified in redacted CIA documents and testimony at the trial only as “Merlin”."


If analysis and operations become one, a repeat of such events and dynamics will become more probable, because the analysts will be under pressure from the glamorous, cool and gung-ho 'doers' to be team players i.e. the operations side will end up driving analysis.

If anylsis is to be objective and impartial one does not want that.

It may work on a project basis though where you're chasing, say, a terrorist cell or something of that sort.

On the national level, I fear the effect will be detrimental.


Interesting, but complex. ...

"desire to do away with the divide between analysis and the clandestine (collection?) service in favour of organising into self contained regional groups."

I have of course no idea what I am babbling about, but the way Pat Lang explained the intelligence process makes me slightly hesitant (Jeffrey Sterling case). Isn't it obvious analysis and collection always have to work hand in hand. Just as collection must be a regional affair.

Although strictly the idea of a National Director of Intelligence, which was meant or explained as dealing with inter-agency rivalry didn't surface so much in Pat's report. Maybe I should read it again.


LeAnder and CP

I also think the merger is dangerous and likely to lead to yet more group-think. pl

The Twisted Genius

I seriously doubt this is about frank and fearless high quality intelligence. The National Clandestine Service (NCS) is the most powerful element at the CIA and within the entire IC. The NCS doesn't want this power diluted by being broken into regional centers. IMO that's what this early retirement is all about. Brennan began as an analyst but is a bureaucrat at heart. My guess is that he foresees fellow bureaucrat-analysts rising to lead these regional centers just as he rose to be COS in Riyadh.

Regional centers are not needed to promote cooperation between analysts and collectors. That cooperation is now robust and encouraged throughout the IC. This is a cooperation between two different disciplines with different approaches and mindsets. Breaking down the organizational barrier between the two would contribute to groupthink although I fear the real danger is that the analysis would bend to the collection rather that the other way around as Walrus fears.

The use of dedicated "centers" is nothing new at the CIA. They have the Counter Terrorist Center, Counter Proliferation Center and others. This did not take away from the separate operations and analysis directorates. I just noticed the DIA organization now includes regional centers (Americas, Asia/Pacific, Middle East/Africa, Europe/Eurasia), but the Directorate for Analysis and Directorate for Operations are still there. These centers are new to me. I don't know how they fit in.


The lore of Britain, as I remember Pat once called it, although I do not remember the context:

I am not in any way trying to suggest there is a connection!!!!!!!!!



I was once asked to look into the activity of an entertainment industry management buyout firm, or more precisely its expansions on on German ground. Ii discovered that the larger exercise apparently was enormously well connected politically over here. They slightly later raised captial over here too, if recall correctly.

I couldn't help but to return, and looked into the latest issues. This is interesting. I did in fact wonder recently to what extend something like "We are the People", Pegida movement could be created by not so visible actors. Blame it on my PR background:


True to my left leanings, this caught my attention:


Not only because of the name, but also since there was among other some obscure financial data docs floating around the web at that point, seemingly originating with the investment firm involved in the management buyout. On the surface it looked like a really a peculiar high profile sponsership recruiting email, somewhat connected to Scottland. Made no sense, since it looked like nothing more than some type of private email. One minor item: Interestingly the idea of attention on small businesss surfaced in the context of the founder of that enterprise after he left:

"Wikipedia: The agreement covers aspects of banking activity, notably lending, pay and bonuses with the intention of promoting lending to businesses, particularly small businesses, curbing the size of bankers' bonuses and promoting transparency with regards to executive pay. The agreement was finalised on 9 February 2011."

And what the hell is this out of Canada, online since 2009?


Apparently they don't need any updated marketing designs on their webpage. But Merlin Ent Inc? Accident?

But no doubt, if you would want to prevent your own population from getting more unruly, during an envisioned clash with the ME, you maybe should look into the issue that speculation capital does not necessarily help tocreate jobs at home.


summary, I am attracted to connecting dots too, but I am absolutely (actually 100%) sure of my highly limited abilities in this context.



"The Matter of Britain." pl


" IMO that's what this early retirement is all about. Brennan began as an analyst but is a bureaucrat at heart."

Thanks, TTG. I wasn't completely sure how to deal with the information: I looked up the people surfacing in the WP article. Interestingly I have come to appreciate the WP recently. I deeply distrust The Daily Beast almost from the moment someone linked to it. Maybe, not even quite sure, I distrust the color red--may sound odd considering I am indeed a leftie--of its design. Or its specific attempts at superficial balance. ...

But basically I distrust the argument, that a closer alignment between analysis-collection-execution--would help give analysts the ability to modify execution.

I could of course tell you why. But I'll leave it at that.


Ok, true. I am showing my philological deficiencies. Or my aging mind, in hitting the precise term at the right moment. I remember though, I loved it when you mentioned it. ;)


And now this interesting "Ukrainian" fighter courtesy of Nuland-Kaganate:



King Arthur is the main business in the matter of Britain. Roland in that of France, el Cid Campeador in that of Spain, etc. pl



We're going to have our hands full.


The Twisted Genius

azozy and anna-marina,

I wouldn't read too much into these sightings of Ukie soldiers speaking American English. The Azov Battalion has attracted foreign volunteers, most notably a Swedish neo-nazi sniper. Kolomoisky allegedly hired Greystone Limited mercenaries. There are a large number of foreigners fighting on both sides in this war. If these sightings are American soldiers, which I doubt, we shouldn't admit it. It would be further evidence of the U.S. doing a crappy job of training another foreign army.

I'll write some of my thoughts on events in the region in the next day or two. The purple assed mandrill of peace has clearly fled the snow covered steppes of Ukraine.

alba etie

To paraphrase Peter Gabriel - we may have once more "shocked the monkey " in Ukraine .


Is anyone a better dialect specialist who can pin down where the accent is coming from? I'm wild-guessing Newark or Washington, somewhere northeastern seacoast.


Sorry for this mythical interlude, but I have to admit that the Sterling/Merlin case is interesting.


Yes, true, Roland prominently surfaces in France.

But there is a variant in Scottish lore,if I recall correctly, Roland/Rowland the warrior son of king Arthur that follows Merlin's advise. I encountered him first in King Lear.

The Magician/Sage was my absolute favorite puppet in my Punch and Judy show's (I think that's how you call it) "actor set".

I somehow cannot forgive the CIA for turning Merlin the sage into such a bad adviser. ;)


Col, I've been wondering about group think in government analysis compared to the overwhelming amount of open source information now available to the average person. A regular person can read most of the world news of interest over morning coffee and be far less subject to organized group think almost inherent to closed government entities. For example it is possible to read Iranian papers, Russian news, Ukrainian news all within minutes. Can open source information keep group thinking in check in a bureaucracy? Will open source info one day be more reliable if for no other reason than biasing can be offset by multiple perspectives?



Open source is more reliable now and has been for a long time except for things like targeting studies and espionage success in determining intent. pl

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