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Whose Intelligence is Better?

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The Sunday talk shows’ dissections of who’s to blame for the attacks on U.S. outposts in Arab nations included an eye-opening statement from Liz Cheney, former principal deputy assistant secretary of State for near eastern affairs. In a blast at the Obama administration on ABC’s “This Week,” the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney went after the effectiveness of the overall U.S. intelligence effort going back a decade.

“The key on the intelligence here, it wasn't just India that we missed. It was also, frankly, Syria, the nuclear power plant that was being built in the Syrian desert, which was in 2007 that the Israelis came to us and said, "Here, we have it." On Iraq, the Israelis had better intelligence than we did about the development of that nuclear program. …I think that our own intelligence has not been very effective at identifying and predicting where other nations stand in this.”

Asked by Government Executive to respond, Paul R. Pillar, who retired after 28 years with CIA who worked on the Iraq intelligence estimates, said, ”What Israeli intelligence? Did Israeli intelligence say Saddam did not have an active nuclear weapons program in 2002-2003? That's a new one on me.” He added that “the nature and extent of India's program was not 'missed’ at all.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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