Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A leap from here to there & where

As sort of promised (or sort of threatened -- your choice of words) a few days ago, here is a review of Henry "Hank" Crumpton's book, "The Art of Intelligence." (See May 15 post.) The review comes from Sue Mi Terry of The Wall Street Journal. It was published May 18 in the Journal. My own thoughts regarding the book and the review are irrelevant at this point, so instead I will ask you to turn your attention for a moment to the magnificent specimen of wolfhood leaping from the snowy bank of a cold stream to .... to what? To where? To the opposite side of the cold stream, obviously .... well, maybe obviously, but the answer to the question involves what is on the unseen other side of the cold stream. More snow? That would seem to be the logical conclusion. But, perhaps summer is on the opposite side of the stream. Perhaps, it is not a stream  at all, but a lake, and our friend wolf is destined to find himself over his head in deep water. Remember, Horatio, there are more things in heaven .... and, why does our wolf make the leap in the first place? Whatever .... I will leave it to you to write your own ending to the story told in this photograph. By the same token, write your own ending to the music: Would Johann Pachelbel tap his foot to Yngwie Malmsteen's rendition of his magnum opus, Canon in D Major, or would he run from the room screaming?

As threatened, a book review just for you:
"The Art of Intelligence"

By Sue Mi Terry
The Wall Street Journal

'Go get 'em," was the directive from President George W. Bush. It was a Saturday morning soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Years later, veteran CIA officer Henry "Hank" Crumpton recalled that, on the drive back from Camp David, he was stunned. The lead role in the imminent Afghanistan campaign had just fallen on him and his crew—men who had "no military experience" and had made "only a few visits to South Asia, and never to Afghanistan." But it was the president himself who had asked him to go. "So we go," he thought. "As hard and as fast as possible, go."

At the heart of Mr. Crumpton's memoir, "The Art of Intelligence," is an engrossing tale of how a seasoned CIA officer spearheaded the first campaign in America's war on terror. Under his direction, in the fall of 2001, small teams of CIA operatives and U.S. Special Forces, together with Afghan allies, came to kill thousands of al Qaeda and Taliban combatants and to break their hold on Afghanistan in less than three months. Even though Osama bin Laden slipped away, and the Taliban eventually returned to foment a new insurgency in Afghanistan, this ground-breaking campaign was a success beyond all reasonable expectations.

For all its engaging detail, there are few revelations in "The Art of Intelligence." The overthrow of the Taliban has been chronicled before—by Mr. Crumpton's fellow CIA officers in other memoirs, such as Gary Berntsen's "Jawbreaker" (2005) and Gary Schroen's "First In" (2005), and in works of history such as Doug Stanton's "Horse Soldiers" (2009). Nevertheless, Mr. Crumpton's narrative, especially when chronicling the response to the 9/11 attacks, moves like a thriller, presenting a story of ingenuity and courage under fire. Along the way, he casts light on the transformation of the CIA in recent decades.

Mr. Crumpton first became interested in CIA service, he tells us, when he was a boy. At age 10 or 11, he wrote a letter to the agency explaining his desire to join it one day. To his surprise, he received a reply thanking him for his interest and encouraging him to apply when he got older. At the time—the mid-1960s—the CIA was at the height of its Cold War glory, waging battles against communism around the world and engaging in paramilitary operations in Southeast Asia.

But the ethos that had animated the agency's founders was shattered by the opposition to the Vietnam War. A significant percentage of the American elite, from whom the CIA had drawn its initial recruits, turned against the war and against the intelligence community. One result of this shift in outlook was the Church Committee hearings of the mid-1970s, which uncovered past CIA assassination plots and other covert activities. A couple of years later, there were severe cutbacks under Jimmy Carter's CIA director, Stansfield Turner, who was not shy about laying off veteran Cold Warriors.

Thus the CIA that the young Mr. Crumpton joined in 1981 was an agency in crisis—and in the midst of a cultural transformation. More and more CIA officers were cut in the mold of Mr. Crumpton himself, a small-town Georgia boy who had graduated from the University of New Mexico, not Harvard or Yale.

The agency was partially revived by William Casey, who as Ronald Reagan's CIA director oversaw a vast covert program to undermine the Soviet Union—most spectacularly in Afghanistan, where the CIA funneled weapons to the mujahedeen. Mr. Crumpton was not involved in these covert actions; in his early days at the agency he was focused on traditional intelligence gathering, mostly in Africa. A crisp style makes his personal recollections from these years compelling, not least when he recounts how he recruited various spies—from repugnant delinquents motivated by greed to idealistic nationalists motivated by ideology.

Mr. Crumpton steadily rose into the agency's senior ranks and returned from overseas in the late 1990s, when the Cold War was over and the agency was searching for a new mission. These were the years when the focus was on economic intelligence and other "soft" subjects. They were also the years when the al Qaeda threat was growing. Mr. Crumpton was soon at the forefront of the effort to respond to this threat.

In 1998-99, on loan from CIA, he served as deputy chief in the FBI's International Terrorism Operations Section. He then served as deputy chief of the CIA's counterterrorism center, between 1999 and 2001. Mr. Crumpton and his colleagues, he notes, were stymied by a pervasive caution among policy makers and bureaucrats, and among their own superiors. Mr. Crumpton says that he pushed for sending Special Operations and CIA commando teams deep into Afghanistan before 9/11 to engage al Qaeda, but to no avail. There was, he says, insufficient political will in Washington. At one point in 2000, Mr. Crumpton writes, "we had Bin Laden in our electrical-optical sights, but we had no realistic policy, no clear authority, and no meaningful resources to engage the target with lethal speed and precision. It was all sadly absurd."

That "absurd" policy did not change when the Bush administration came into office. But it changed with a vengeance after 9/11, when Mr. Crumpton and his fellow operatives were unleashed to take risks that would have been unimaginable before. Under President Obama, the pace of counterterrorist operations has expanded still more, including drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

That expansion, in turn, has led to a major institutional change at the CIA. The agency, which had all but gotten out of the paramilitary business after Vietnam, has returned to its old form. In fact, the CIA's greatest successes in the past decade have come from identifying and killing terrorists; its biggest failures have involved assessing non-terrorist targets, such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Mr. Crumpton's memoir is a compelling account of the changes that have allowed the CIA to fight the war on terror with unprecedented resources and success. There is no doubt that the CIA will in the future have to devote more resources to intelligence gathering. The agency should apply to its traditional operations the same ruthless, results-oriented ethos that Mr. Crumpton and his colleagues applied to fighting al Qaeda.

Ms. Terry, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, has served as a senior East Asia analyst at the CIA and as a member of the National Security Council. A version of this article appeared May 18, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Agency Goes to War.



16 comments:

EstelleAnita said...

Hei!!

what abeautiful musi to wake up to Pachebel!!!god!!ILOVE LOVE it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanx Fram!!Making my day!!!!
about the wolf..i think he jumps of happiness and pure nature lust!!He just does it!!!whats behnd..well who cares....thats the story of life...

It may be a metaphor...referring to politics too..one have to do a jump sometimes..to the better or the worse.?.anyway.it is possible to change the course if we dont like it.

Fram Actual said...

There is no music, no sound, which can surpass Johann Pachelbel's Canon in terms of pure beauty. At least, that is how I feel and think, Anita. It is serenity at its purest, and transcends even the melodies of Nature.

Yes, the wolf at the stream might well be a metaphor referring to politics or to war or to the question of good vs. evil. Is he leaping because he wishes to leave somewhere or because he wants to go somewhere? Or, as you suggest, does he leap in pure joy for being alive?

I am glad you thought about and wrote about the wolf leaping the stream. Thank you.

Smareis said...

Olá Fram Actual,

Essa imagem do lobo é maravilhosa, um belo salto.Um salto pra liberdade é uma boa idéia. A arte da inteligência deve ser um livro envolvente e com muitas revelações.
Gostei muito dos dois videos.

Parabens pela postagem

Um grande abraço!

Fram Actual said...

Yes, Smareis .... thank you, for your visit and your words.

I cannot recall using this photograph of this wolf before, but I have used one of him running through the snow and another of him with his mate, and, possibly, he is in others that I do not remember using. The blue-eyed wolf has appeared here two or three times. They are all magnificent.

I guess in my mind there is no such thing as freedom. I might explain that sometime, and, in the meanwhile, there is no harm in thinking about it or hoping to find it.

Yes, the book should offer much, and it should be read by many. Knowledge is illusive, and we should seek it everywhere and anywhere.

And, the videos .... I am glad you liked them. If I should be born again, I would wish to come back as a guitar man.

EstelleAnita said...

Well Fram.i wonder what makes you wanne leave .is it something in here..on the blogs?or is it a private matter?
Remeber nothing stays for ever.Also pain.

Come back when you feel too.You can NOT close this blog.It means too much ,not only for you..but many more people..


However.I undestand you.In 20 days i leave for cypruzz..When you have time..come and look !

Auf widersehn my friend!!

EstelleAnita said...

ps nice photo by you on the bike..and what great stomach musckles!!wowowoowowowowo

Fram Actual said...

Yes, Anita, it is both. Depending on the situation, I often think blogs create many problems in a person's life which are easily avoidable. In sentence, who needs them?

From my standpoint, the best element about blogs is to catch a glimpse into the lives of other people, many of whom live on the other side of the world from you. That is fun. Other aspects of "bloglife" are not so much fun.

In short, I did use the word suspended. The first five months I was on the blogs, I was a spectator only and without my own page. There was a period of three months in 2010 when I did not come near the blogs. Perhaps going in and out is the best way to handle them so they do not come to handle you.

As you probably were able to imagine, the photographs are all of a teenage "boy." As a person's knowledge hopefully grows over the years, without a doubt the waistline most certainly will. It is strange .... but, only a few hours before you wrote your comment, I was thinking about my blog and debating whether or not to remove those photographs from it.

I assume our paths will cross on the sea of blogs before you depart for Cyprus, but, in the meanwhile, I will be the first to wish you "bon voyage."

EstelleAnita said...

thank you fram.now i understand more.but dont let it go to you.you r much to precious for that.but i undestand.it is not easy.think you are very feelingly and warm person.
i am writing this from cellphone.god.we r very sick.was to the emergency again.we have the kissing sickness.monocluose.caratene for a week.new pencillin.
is gonna be alot of moviewatching.see you soon fram
xxx

EstelleAnita said...

about your photoes.i think you are the same as a teenage.same muscles.same nice body.same nice smile.same good person.dont take them away.

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Anita.

I am going to vanish from the sea of blogs for a couple of weeks and dive into the sea of dreams, so forgive me if I do not leave any comments for a while. I appreciate your friendship.

Take care, and you had best get well before you leave for Cyprus.

EstelleAnita said...

Well fram.do not dream life away.(as may be i do)
Our friendship i think is very old.
It stands in good and bad times.
Yes,,we have to get better.But alexander is already better with the new medicine..except he is going to the toilet alot.The sumerholidays will be some quiet ones..

But fram.I dream of Tuscany valleys ,green pastiures..museums.ect..So ..sitting here i will do such things in the blog to the departure.
I think of you and all the best must happen to you.
We see later.Perhaps.Kiskiss.

Smareis said...

Olá Fram,

Passei pra ler sua postagem e desejar uma excelente semana.
Gostei muito dos dois video.

Grande abraço!

Wind said...

Well, your blog is closed, as far as I see...but your wolf in the picture will jump into unknown whatever you choose to do.He is jumping. He goes further no matter what! Look at him!
The entire world jumps, I think...having no strategy...only jumps to the opposite side...
Fram, what means 'opposite side'?
Something else? Something new? The same thing in another place? Different?
We never change, I think...and we never learn,too...like in that song from Coldplay...but it is important to jump....
Have a good day and excuse my english!

EstelleAnita said...

heheh..see!!here comes all your friends!!visiting you!!

think its time to show up now.we.I.miss you.

take care voff vofff:))))

EstelleAnita said...

wow!!

Splendid!!
music of J.S. Bach, Prelude No. 12, F-minor, BWV 857 from the Well-Tempered Clavier Das Wohltemperierte Klavier
what a good taste you have.and Rembrandt!!Jesuzzzzzz!

you r a lucky fellow living cose to that museum..what in good lord why is he there??he do not belong there..in that musuem..but soo great anyway!!

suicide..hmmm..what was he thinking??but great.the world is more then a dance on roses..so i like to eat it all..

think its very strange..every time i call for you..you show up in a way or another..sometimes i really think i have magic gifts!!

ok.see you soon dear frammy!!

EstelleAnita said...

tomorow i will be leaving on the vacation.hope to see you soon.hope also everything is goodwith you.Peace.
xxxxx

Something special ....