US spy agencies' focus on Qaeda left many vacant national security flash points: Report
Washington, Mar. 21 : A panel of White House advisers has warned President Barack Obama in a secret report that U.S. spy agencies were paying inadequate attention to China, the Middle East and other national security flash points.
The report warned that the spy agencies ignored the national spots because they had become too focused on military operations and drone strikes.
According to the Washington Post, the panel, led by influential figures, including new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former senator David L. Boren concluded in a report last year that the roles of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other spy services had been distorted by more than a decade of conflict.
The document was distributed to senior national security officials at the White House whose public remarks in recent weeks suggest that they share some of the panel's concerns.
Members declined to discuss the contents of the report, citing the confidential nature of the group's work.
Another panelist, former congressman Lee H. Hamilton, said traditional espionage "has suffered as the CIA has put more and more effort into the operational side."
According to the report, U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that demands on spy agencies have grown in recent years, driven by political turmoil associated with the Arab Spring, the cyber-espionage threat posed by China and the splintering of militant groups in North Africa.
The pressure has been compounded by shrinking or stagnant budgets for most agencies after years of double-digit increases.
But officials disputed the suggestion that spy agencies have faltered in their ability to stay abreast of developments.
Officials who have reviewed the panel's report, however, said it documents numerous intelligence vulnerabilities created by the flow of people and resources to conflict zones.
The CIA's stations in Iraq and Afghanistan were among the largest in agency history, with thousands of case officers, analysts and support workers assigned to fortified compounds in Baghdad and Kabul and smaller bases outside the capitals, the report said.
Those deployments have diminished with the winding down of those wars.
Boren also warned that repeated deployments to war zones have warped the training of a post-9/11 generation of spies.