China Report Fallout

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

China Report Fallout


Byline: Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

China report fallout

U.S. intelligence analysts and others in several agencies are trying to find out how they were excluded from a highly classified report on China that identified 10 years of intelligence "surprises" related to China's military development.

What has current China analysts in the CIA and elsewhere worried is their fear that the report, labeled "Top Secret" codeword and designated "HCS," for humint (human intelligence) control system, will trigger a far-reaching review similar in scope and aggressiveness to the presidential panel that probed failures related to intelligence on Iraq's weapons.

Copies of the 95-page report and associated briefing slides have been recalled from a limited distribution and are to be locked away to prevent congressional oversight panels from seeing them, we are told.

The China report was ordered by Dennis Wilder, a longtime CIA analyst on China who is now on the White House National Security Council staff.

Critics within the intelligence community say Mr. Wilder, by limiting participation in the study to pro-China analysts, was trying to exonerate analysts, like himself, who missed the Chinese military developments over the past decade.

One analyst told us the intelligence failures on China were the result of key analysts, including Mr. Wilder, "carrying out their own private foreign policy" aimed at minimizing China's military buildup.

Many dissident analysts now are wondering why they were excluded from the China study and suspect that it was part of an effort to cover up past intelligence failures on China.

Also, the intelligence community is set to start a second study of intelligence lapses on China. That inquiry will look at the failures to know key intelligence on China, whose communist rulers are intensely secret about even the smallest political, military and strategy issues.

The report on China "unknowns" will reflect the oft-stated views of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who warns that when it comes to intelligence, what you don't know can be as important, or as dangerous, as the known intelligence on a subject.

Mr. Rumsfeld put it this way to British interviewer David Frost:

"There are things we know we know, and that's helpful to know you know something. There are things we know we don't know and that's really important to know, and not think you know them when you don't. But the tricky ones are the unknown unknowns, the things we don't know we don't know. They're the ones that can get you in a bucket of trouble."

Several key Chinese military developments will be addressed in the Pentagon's forthcoming report on Chinese military power with the phrase "the Pentagon does not know" about key aspects of the armed forces and its strategies. …

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