The war in Afghanistan is an unwinnable quagmire and poor US
intelligence is leading to the deaths of Australian soldiers, a visiting
former CIA officer says.
Robert Baer, a decorated CIA field officer of two decades
experience who had spent years in the Middle East, said any chances the
US and its allies had of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan had
already been squandered. The Coalition was fighting an unwinnable war,
he said, and this was the case because victory required reliable
''[US intelligence agencies] have the same problem they had before 9/11. It is a system that doesn't work.''
That system sees CIA operatives and
allied intelligence officers unable to gather reliable information
because security concerns do not allow them to travel widely. And most
do not speak the local language. ''They're all stuck behind the wire;
they don't get out … it's like the crusades where you're stuck on your
castle imagining what the natives are doing,'' he said.
Describing Washington DC as a ''blank spot on the map'',
he said that despite the massive growth of the intelligence agencies
post September 11, 2001, there remained systemic failings.
''American intelligence after 9/11 has been unable to
co-ordinate … the FBI will not share with the CIA. CIA has operational
databases which they won't share with even others inside the CIA.''
All of this led to a dysfunctional intelligence
community unable to provide reliable, contemporary intelligence that
could allow the Coalition to win in Afghanistan.
''Twenty-two American soldiers have been killed since
Friday, and Australia has lost 21 men … Afghanistan is a quagmire and it
can only be fought with an effective counter-insurgency. It cannot be
fought with Abrams tanks and F16s,'' he said.
The author of four books and a film consultant, he has
previously described how the CIA's role as a provider of human
intelligence - on-the-ground intelligence gathering by field officers -
has been steadily degraded under poor management.
Earlier this week Mr Baer said the Australian government
should confront Washington with the poor intelligence on Afghanistan
that was recently released by WikiLeaks.
''The Australians should take the WikiLeaks information
to the US [administration] and say: please tell us you have better
information than this,'' Mr Baer said.
Mr Baer is in Australia to speak at the Australian Security Industry Association Limited conference in Sydney.