On the dumbness of "intelligence".
CIA stands for the Central Intelligence Agency. I understand that, by “intelligence” they are referring to information, rather than skill in its use – but, nevertheless, one does expect intelligent behaviour from an agency bearing that name and having that role. Recent events, however, suggest that, perhaps, the CIA should look at the quality of either its intake or its training.
Hezbollah has discovered more than a dozen CIA spies in Lebanon. It is feared that they are likely to be executed, if they have not already been. So, too, CIA spies in Iran have been uncovered and apprehended, in a double blow for the iconic agency.
I was struck by reports that the CIA spies in Lebanon were meeting, in a large group, at a Pizza hut. Apparently, the code word for the venue, in their “secret” conversations, was “pizza”. Hmm. I wonder if anyone could guess what that meant? Former officials were the source of the code word. Present officials deny the code word “pizza” was used. My take on that is to ask: who has “face” to lose? Those who no longer work in the US government – or those who do?
Regardless of whether or not that particular code word was used or not – which, if it was, is a spectacular instance of catastrophic dumbness – the other aspect of the situation is equally troubling. Is it not conspicuous for a large number of agents and their contacts to be meeting in a public restaurant all at the same time? Is this not likely to attract attention? Indeed, it did...with the result that the spy network was apprehended and rolled up.
If these reports are true – of a ludicrous code word and attention grabbing meetings – then I have to wonder at how such things can be. It would seem that the CIA’s agents in the Middle East, have been living life without a full appreciation of the risks of their role. They have lived as if in a TV show – where the good guys are never caught and nothing ill ever happens to them. No-one who truly understood, deep down, the risks of the job, would choose to meet, in a large group, in a public place...it is just too likely to be noticed. A little thought, without any special training at all, would suggest many different ways to organize meetings, that are much safer, and less likely to be noticed. However, this was not done, it seems: foolish risks were taken, instead, as if, in fact, there were no risks at all.
I am left to wonder at the age of the agents in question. Were they young and inexperienced...and, perhaps, a little unprepared for their roles? Did they see it as a game, and not as a very perilous life, indeed? No-one of any maturity, with any perspective on the consequences of being revealed, in such a role, could have behaved, as these “spies” are said to have done.
If it transpires that these operatives were, in fact, very young, it would be wiser, in future, to use older, more experienced field operatives, with a better appreciation of the fragility of life, and the precariousness of their position, as foreign agents, in the midst of hostile territory.
That being said, I hope the operatives, young or not, return home safely to their families, intact and untortured – though I rather feel that is as much a vain hope, as their actions were foolish, in meeting in Pizza Hut, in the first place.
That pizza better have been worth it.
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