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What good is the CIA?

The fact that so much of what the “intelligence” community does is done in secret makes it a little hard to judge the worth of their efforts. But here are a few things to consider. 1) When they do accomplish things, it often turns out badly [1]. Very [2], very [3] badly [4]. 2) When they don’t accomplish things, the bad results are avoided perhaps only by the grace of God (and the more cool-headed minds that stand between the U.S. intelligence community and whatever it is they are trying to accomplish). Case in point: intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programs turns out to be pretty much a bunch of junk [5]. Speaking of which, I liked Alexander Cockburn’s recent column on selling bridges to the New York Times. (Full column available to Nation subscribers only, but this intro is a nice taste.)