CIA Too Busy With Drones to Spy: Report

Hagel panel says agency isn't gathering enough intel
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2013 8:11 AM CDT
CIA Too Busy With Drones to Spy: Report
Chuck Hagel, seen in this file photo, was one of the leaders of the panel making the report.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(Newser) – US spy agencies have neglected intelligence gathering operations in strategically critical places like China, the Middle East, and elsewhere, because they've been too busy flying drone strikes and conducting quasi-combat operations, a classified report warned President Obama last year. The panel, headed by Chuck Hagel and former Sen. David Boren, found numerous intelligence vulnerabilities brought on by the decade-long focus on counterterrorism, and called for a drastic realignment, the Washington Post reports.

"The intelligence community has become to some degree a military support operation," Boren tells the Post. He called specifically for more surveillance of China, not because "we're going to come to blows," but because "in the long run, what's more important to America: Afghanistan or China?" Intelligence officials, however, insist that they have hundreds of analysts tracking China, and other matters unrelated to counterterrorism. But in a possible sign that the panel's warnings are being heeded, the CIA is relinquishing its drone program. (Read more counterterrorism stories.)

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