Heard them crackle electrical chanties.
Said her beau, "Have no fear,
For the reason is clear:
You simply have amps in your panties
There's the way things ought to be,
and the way things are
Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
we blended with the crowd
We got computer, we're tapping phone lines,
I know that ain't allowed
--Life During Wartime,
This is about the new-and-improved underwear bomb (not) and a brief analysis thereof. Intelligence is the focus, but first, some history.
The major deficiency of U.S. policy and operations since World War II has been intelligence; WWII could be viewed as a failure of strategic intelligence. The intel breakdown in pre-World War II scenarios was not in the collection cycle but in the policy application phase.
It is safe to say that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Cordell Hull interpreted intelligence to reflect outcomes that were aligned with their goals. In short, the intel was a tool to be bent to their will, much the same as we saw with President G. W. Bush's actions in 2002.
WWII intelligence was largely a U.S. product with input from the British, Dutch and other major players. Historically, however, we realize that the input from other nations was often self-serving, designed to play U.S. policy-makers.
Korean War intel was largely a military product that was sufficient at the Division and Corps Level but broke down at Theatre. This was because the command structure (=MacArthur) totally misread the battlefield reports as they did not fit into his conception of the field forces reality. The problem was not external. The military collected, interpreted and disseminated the product in a correct manner, however, it was largely ignored.
This shows failure may happen at many points along the intel cycle, from gathering through application, and the failure may be one of incorrect input (intentional or not), or one of human bias. [Ranger has discussed Human Intelligence (HUMINT) versus Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) in the past, and one is not preferable to the other, nor may one exist successfully independent of the other. However, bias is always problematic.]
In Vietnam, the U.S. in country depended largely upon reports that were generated by the South Vietnamese government, data that was often faulty and self-serving. Unfortunately, this fact was largely ignored since an ally is always believed to be honest and trustworthy. As a result, projects like Phoenix were based upon faulty and misleading intel provided by a foreign power.
In the 1980's, when U.S. doctrine attempted to assimilate the experience of Vietnam, it failed to recognize this key deficiency in the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) and Counterterrorism (CT) arenas since the only intel available was often foreign-based and produced.
Which brings us to 2012, and questionable intel is still chewing on our shorts. I will use the case of the second underwear bomber as a template for the problem, beginning with the facts, ending with an analysis. Put on your thinking caps.
Tomorrow: Amps in Their Panties II