Espionage is a constant in human civilization. Spying features prominently in the Old Testament and it’s often called the “second oldest profession” with good reason. The ancient Chinese sage Sun Tzu wrote eloquently about the strategic importance of espionage and counterespionage fully 2,500 years ago. As long as people have lived in anything resembling societies, they have been stealing secrets from each other.
Although America has the world’s best-funded intelligence services, and our behemoth seventeen-agency Intelligence Community is sufficiently vast to please any Beltway bureaucrat, there are persistent calls for our spies to do more. This has become a drumbeat of late, as the Obama White House fumbles aimlessly around the Middle East in its not-quite-a-war against the Islamic State, the notorious ISIS.
Beyond the politicization of our intelligence regarding ISIS, which is known to be a problem, with inaccurate good news being valued over more accurate bad news by certain senior policymakers, many believe that we simply don’t know enough about what the black-clad jihadist madmen in Syria and Iraq are up to.
In particular, we’re hearing increasing cries for more spies on the ground, what professionals term human intelligence or HUMINT. Ritualistic chants for “more HUMINT” occur any time Uncle Sam finds himself in a jam somewhere, and they usually come from people who don’t know much about the spy business. They also find fault with our alleged overreliance on technical espionage, and their particular bugbear is signals intelligence or SIGINT.
Read the rest at the New York Observer …