U.S. espionage requires new forms of intelligence-gathering
Founded in the 1940s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) soon became the core of national security and espionage. However, a new millennium saw development in intelligence-gathering techniques, and many now question the role the CIA plays in international affairs.
In 1947 the United States government created the Central Intelligence Agency, or the CIA. The CIA was placed in charge of "coordinating the nation's intelligence activities and correlating, evaluating and disseminating intelligence affecting national security." Since its creation, the American people have painted the CIA as a very shady cloak-and-dagger agency that does "dirty work" to keep this country safe.
To be honest, no one really knows what the CIA does do. They do collect human intelligence from around the world, but no one knows the specifics of their actions and even congress knows very little about what occurs during CIA operations. So, in some ways, it is correct that the American public has painted this abstract view of the agency since the specifics of the actions are not viewed by the public. However, there have been no major terrorist attacks on U.S soil in the past 11 years and for the most part, the CIA is sort of like the invisible hand that keeps America safe. Some may say that the CIA has failed largely because of the 9-11 attacks, but perfection can not be realistic in a world where numerous threats to national security are planned and thwarted every year.
Recently, however, the CIA has been on the front of nearly every newspaper in America since the Iranian military claims to have captured an American CIA operative and has sentenced him to death. This alleged spy, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, is an ex-marine corp translator and both his family and U.S government officials deny claims that he is a spy. Hekmati did not deny claims though, and confessed on an Iranian news network that he is a CIA operative sent to infiltrate the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. Currently, the U.S government is in the process of releasing Hekmati.
Wether Hekmaite is an operative or not, the CIA does employ spies throughout the world to gather intelligence. Although agent 007 is a very interesting idea, these spies do not drive Aston Martin's or ask for things "shaken, not stirred." Although the world of spies is no doubt very interesting, it is much different than the average American may think.
"A new breed of fighting is now here. Wars will now be fought online by the NSA, intelligence will be gathered by computer automated drones that hover above and CIA operatives on the ground below." --Trevor York, '12
In Lindsay Moran's novel Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy, she describes her life as a covert spy for the CIA. According the Moran, intelligence is largely gathered by paying informants, or "agents" as they are called in the agency, for secrets about foreign governments. Paying off foreign agents is how a large portion of human intelligence or HUMNINT, is gathered.
The CIA plays a major role in keeping this country safe, but they are in no way the only agency that handles intelligence. In fact, intelligence and special operations are the way of the future. Wars will no longer be fought with hundreds of thousands of men on the front lines, such as they fought on D-Day or in the Civil War. Technology has completely changed the way America protects itself. Yet, to put it more bluntly, America's deficit has changed the way that America protects itself.
Columnist Trevor York, '12.
On Jan. 5th, President Obama took a step towards this new military by cutting of $400 billion from the Department of Defense. Officials say that the Army and Marines will take the biggest hits since they built up their forces to fight in the Iraqi War, which is now over. However, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Special Forces branches will continue to grow since they may be used to train armies in foreign countries and they are cheaper to maintain.
Yet the intelligence community has experienced some recent setbacks such as the capturing Hekmati, who may or may not be a spy. Other events have questioned the effectiveness of the American forces such as the recent drone incident. In December of 2011, an advanced U.S. drone aircraft was flying over Iran and was taken down by Iranian forces. This only raised tensions between the two countries since President Obama did not actually apologize but simply asked for the plane back. But nonetheless, these flagrant failures are strongly drowned out by the great success that the American government has done in protecting this country since the 9-11 attacks.
The wars of the 20th century are over. No longer will mass amounts of men be told to go to the frontline. A new breed of fighting is now here. Wars will now be fought online by the NSA, intelligence will be gathered by computer automated drones that hover above and CIA operatives on the ground below. Intelligence is the new way of protecting the secrets of America and special operations will be the new way of protecting this nation and teaching other countries how to protect themselves. Maybe recent budget cuts on the Depart of Defense will lead to a more streamlined government, a leaner fighting force that will not protect this country with tanks and warheads but instead, critical thinking and decisive key strokes.
For more columns, read the Jan. 23 article, EDITORIAL: First semester report card.