Thursday, January 21, 2010

US Intel Does the China Kowtow

From the land of I-Kid-You-Not comes this story of Kowtowing to Beijing on the part of our intelligence community. Sing to the tune of Kumbaya, please:
The White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for China, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing's military and its cyber-attacks.

The downgrading of intelligence gathering on China was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said.

The decision downgrades China from "Priority 1" status, alongside Iran and North Korea, to "Priority 2," which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.
And why are they doing this? Rational reasons like budget, resources, even more urgent needs? Nope:
But administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the new policy is part of the Obama administration's larger effort to develop a more cooperative relationship with Beijing.
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! [sputter, choke]. Hahahahahahaha. [drinks water]. Hahahahahahaha!

What else can you do but laugh at the stupidity of this? The article reports opposing claims: (1) it won't have any effect on intel, just a number, and (2) over time quality of China intel will fall. If (1) is true the Chinese will know it, so no effect on relationship. If (2) is true, we shouldn't be doing it for any reason. The report also shows that at least one priority is Iran -- just another way our obsession with the Middle East is crowding out the really important stuff in Asia. It also shows how China, by cheaply feeding Iran's nuke program (at a profit!), is getting the US to consume its resources on secondary targets. Analysts in Beijing must surely go to bed laughing each night at news like this, as they contemplate American boys dying in Afghanistan to make Central Asia safe for Chinese expansion.

But to do it to further a more cooperative relationship with Beijing? I just can't stop laughing. Why doesn't Panetta have the intelligence community date coma victims instead? That will be an experience just like trying to establish a cooperative relationship with China, and it will not impair our intelligence gathering.

Seriously, it might be worth attempting to relate to Beijing, but not by reducing our espionage efforts.

Ok, let's start a pool: how many days after this news will it be before Beijing does something stupendous espionage or hack on the US intelligence community? I'm picking eight days -- the amount of time between the US and China resuming military exchanges, and the harassment of the USNS Impeccable in international waters by Chinese vessels.

Let's hope this news is some kind of disinformation.
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Unknown said...

I am really beginning to think that Hillary Clinton would have made a much much better and more effective President! Or even McCain. Why were so many of us so blind?

Marc said...


Are there any readers out there with a little more inside info on the various intel agencies in the US?

How many levels are there?

What intel gathering is not done at Level 2 that is done at Level 1?

Is Level 2 akin the what comedian John Cleese once referred to as the "Axis of Somewhat Evil" or the "Axis of Occasionally Evil"?

Mark said...

And as part of the reciprocal goodwill gesture China will also significantly reduce its espionage efforts against the US.............. Right???

BIT said...


Last night, I expalained the concepts of "directly proportional relationship" and "inversely proportional relationship" to my daughter for her math homework. I think to answer your question precisely would be it is an "inversely proportional relationship" based on the past experience. I'm surprised that most of the world still doesn't come to understand how China is gaining more and more ground while we are making more and more concession.

Michael Turton said...

And the sad part is that they keep imagining that they can make up the lost ground by making still more concessions....

Anonymous said...

How about one day?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone honestly believe the US intelligence community is that naïve? I have no doubt that internally they are still doing clandestine spying operations against China. If they aren't then the world is in deep shit.

Anonymous said...

I agree that spying on China is wasteful and counter-productive. Just nuke the fuckers.

Tommy said...

"Does anyone honestly believe the US intelligence community is that naïve?"

Some may be. But of greater concern is the patchwork of politicians, businessmen and other interests who bend over backwards to make concessions to the Chinese so that they can improve the business environment.

Also of concern is the selection of genuinely naive Westerners who really think that the Chinese authorities have the interests of the rest of the world in mind. Yes, there are many people like that out there, or need I cite the masses who were mislead by Red Star Over China decades ago and who continue to be blinded by the legions of pulp "China Dazzle" books on the bookstore shelves.

In sum, these groups can exert pressure on the intelligence community and on the military as well.

Moreover, even if the intelligence community has not downgraded its intelligence gathering in fact, the formal announcement that it has done so can do damage by lowering the guard of government bureaus, enterprises, individuals and NGOs who read the formal announcement.

Marc said...

Thomas said, "Also of concern is the selection of genuinely naive Westerners who really think that the Chinese authorities have the interests of the rest of the world in mind."

I'll go you one better. I'll bet you it's Western business and political leaders who think they can handle China and not let things get out of control--like those otherwise intelligent people who reply to Nigerian banking offers in their email knowing it's a scam, but thinking they can out-scam the scammers.