Special Ops Can Gather Crucial Intel—But Lack Tools to Use It

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


In the fight against terrorism, some of the most indispensable weapons are the most ordinary of objects: A scrap of paper with a name scrawled on it, found in the pocket of a suspected insurgent; or his cellphone, programmed with numbers. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, Special Operations forces have stepped up efforts to collect anything that might broaden its understanding of insurgent and terrorist networks—so-called pocket litter, documents, and computer hard drives. But according to a report from a House commiteee, they lack the capability to actually do anything with the material they gather.

This troubling observation is buried deep in the House Appropriations committee’s 476-page report on the FY2010 defense budget, which notes that Special Operations personnel have, on multiple occasions, informed lawmakers that they need better technology to quickly process intelligence finds in Iraq and Afghanistan and share the resulting information with relevant agencies. “The Committee is concerned about the urgent need for the modernization of Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) capabilities to process, exploit, and disseminate critical operational intelligence from deployed locations overseas,” the report says. “[W]ithout specialized expeditionary processing, this information becomes inacessible and of no value to SOF in immediate urgent operational missions, and over the longer term to the war fighter, the intelligence community and others in need of access.”

To address this shortcoming, the appropriations committee added an extra $14 billion to help Special Operations Forces analyze and share the intelligence it collects before it becomes useless. I’ve called the committee for details, and will post an update if I learn more.

h/t: Secrecy News.

 

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate