- Posted June 22, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Intelligence Failure or Eyes Shut?
Back in the late 1960s my family was living in Aurora, Illinois where my Dad was pastoring. One day we had been invited to one of the member's home for supper. We were all ready to go except my brother, Lynn.
Dad told Lynn to go to his bedroom and put on his shoes. Lynn came back shoeless and said he couldn't find his shoes. This went on two more times before in frustration, Dad marched Lynn to the bedroom, opened the closet door and pointed at the shoes in plain sight.
Lynn protested and said he could not see the shoes. Dad told him the shoes were right in front of him. Lynn still protested. Getting angry, Dad turned to Lynn to find my brother standing there with his eyes shut tight. Dad didn't know whether to laugh or punish Lynn for being stubborn.
I was reminded of this story after reading the Wall Street Journal report that President Barack Obama approved the set up in Iraq of an intelligence gathering mission a few months ago. A fusion intelligence center was set up in the capitol of Baghdad for the sole purpose of keeping an eye on Sunni militants and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Yet, we have been told by the President, leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees, the military and the intelligence community that the successful romp of ISIS came as a complete surprise. We've been told that Iraqi soldiers shedding their uniforms and fleeing is a surprise.
But what was the mission of this "secret" intelligence gathering operation in Iraq?
According to the Journal, the center was to:
1. Provide intelligence to the government of Iraq
2. Conduct surveillence flights over the country and spotlight ISIS positions
3. Provide the Iraqis with photo images of ISIS camps in the desert
4. Assess the capabilities of Iraqi security forces
Information, however, was shared sparingly with the Iraqi government as the US thought it was unreliable. The Special Forces team sent in April to evaluate the Iraqi military found many shortcomings, undisciplined troops and Sunni officers forced out of service.
So why such surprise that ISIS with its Sunni support has been able to take over a third of the oil-rich, but religiously and ethnically fractured nation in less than two weeks?
We are left to conclude one of two things:
1. This was a massive intelligence failure assessing the danger the divides in Iraq portended
2. The President and the intelligence community looked directly at the impending crisis with eyes shut tightly
I am not sure which is the correct conclusion.
From the Cornfield, what I do know is that the US must either play the cards with which it has been dealt or fold, walk away from the table.
I also know that bluffing may have got the US to the table, but is not enough to claim the jackpot in this high stakes game of international poker.