Magazine article Mother Jones

The Cia's Weather Underground

Magazine article Mother Jones

The Cia's Weather Underground

Article excerpt


Are Republicans putting the intelligence community's climate projects on ice?

For Navy Capt. Tim Gallaudet, global warming isn't a political matter-it's a practical one. Over the next few decades, Arctic summers are expected to become ice-free, creating another ocean for the Navy to factor into its long-term planning. "The ice," he says, "doesn't vote."

Gallaudet, who holds a Ph.D. in oceanography, is the deputy director of the Navy's climate change task force, which was established in 2009. It's part of a growing effort by the military and intelligence communities to get a grip on the national security implications of global warming.

Unsurprisingly, some of these programs have received a chilly reception from congressional Republicans. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), one of Congress' fiercest opponents of taking offi cial action on climate change, has made it his mission to kill the Central Intelligence Agency's Center on Climate Change and National Security; he once offered a budget amendment to shutter the offi ce. "The CIA 's resources should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves-not polar bears on icebergs," he has said. Barras-so's measure failed, but other Republican lawmakers-including the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees, respectivelyhave also expressed skepticism about the CIA 's climate work.

Such complaints are "little more than a smoke screen," says Thomas Fingar, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which pulls together the assessments of the intelligence community for policymakers. …

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