Green Room

US intel community: Hey, everyone was surprised by Russian invasion

posted at 2:44 pm on March 1, 2014 by

No kidding. Eli Lake reported on Thursday that American intelligence rejected the threat of a Russian invasion despite all of the mobilization going on across the border from Ukraine, only to have Russian force seize Crimea the next day. Now the same sources tell the indispensable Lake that they’re still surprised at the aggression, although they’re distinguishing between an invasion and an invasion-invasion:

U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence on the fast moving situation in Ukraine tell The Daily Beast that analytic products from the intelligence community this week did not discount the prospect of Russian provocations and even light incursions in the Russian majority province of Crimea, the home of Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea.

Nonetheless, until Friday, no one anticipated a Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.”Nobody thought Putin was going to invade last night,” one Senate aide who works closely on the Ukraine crisis. “He has the G8 summit in Sochi coming up, no one really saw this kind of thing coming.” This source also stressed that events are still moving quickly on the ground. “There is still a question about whether this is Russian troops coming across the border or Russian troops moving around the installations in Crimea.”

I doubt the Ukrainians are making those distinctions. Now that the invasion is under way, though, US intel says it’s a textbook operation. Plus, the Obama administration is making it easy for Putin to act:

“Putin’s aim is to show that he is in the catbird seat, and there is nothing we can do about it,” this former officer said. “He’s like a kid with a can of gasoline and a book of matches, and he laughs as Obama tries to deliver lectures on how fire is dangerous. Indeed, Putin throws banana peels on the ground, and Obama manages to slip on every one of them. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Be sure to read it all. And I’d like to clarify one point about Eli’s earlier report: it was the intel community that got this call embarrassingly wrong, not Eli. His reporting is as solid as ever. That’s something to keep in mind when we use the earlier report in other analyses.

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I guessed the Russians would invade even though I’m just a nobody from Nowhere, Indiana. I saw those reports claiming the Russians weren’t going to invade based upon the fact that no (or not many) medical units were taking part in the Russian Army ‘exercises’ alongside the Ukrainian border and wondered at the time how the Intel community could sound so definitive given the picayune, open-to-interpretation nature of the medical unit data. Evidently the Russians didn’t think they would need a large number of medical units for the Ukrainian operation, and they were right.

We need to stop calling these Ivy League James Bond wannabes ‘the Intelligence Community’ since there seems to be precious little intelligence exhibited.

The CIA itself has become hopelessly politicized, its ability to furnish untainted analysis compromised. Either dissolve that agency and replace it with something better or revamp it entirely. As a start, Brennan needs to be fired right away, now, with a quickness.

We can endure a bad President. We’ve had bad Presidents, before. What we cannot afford are incompetent analysts and spies.

troyriser_gopftw on March 2, 2014 at 8:18 PM

To be honest, none of this is our business. We should not be wasting our treasure and definitely not young men fighting for Ukrainians. We should stand neutral unless Americans are targeted. Let the Euros go fight for their democracy.

MoreLiberty on March 1, 2014 at 5:34 PM

We don’t need to put boots on the ground in the Ukraine in order to compete geopolitically with the Russians, although it’s always presented as an either we do nothing or we do everything proposition–especially with disciples of Ron Paul and other assorted fringe-types who seemingly don’t understand what diplomacy entails or what strategy is, although some confusion is understandable since the current administration seems not to have a coherent strategy given President Obama’s indifference to and lack of knowledge of foreign affairs.

Our military is an instrument of foreign policy, and for our country, anyway, the use of military force has usually been a last resort. I don’t understand why you and yours don’t understand that. We can stymie Russian ambitions through other means. I don’t recall Reagan, for example, ordering armed intervention as a habit yet we somehow managed to hold the bad guys at bay.

troyriser_gopftw on March 2, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Mr Putin has learned that aggression goes unpunished. Which country will he menace next?”

VorDaj on March 2, 2014 at 6:49 PM


ss396 on March 2, 2014 at 8:36 PM

I can see Obama’s unpreparedness from my house.

I wish Palen would say.

esnap on March 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM

I guess it hasn’t dawned on he American public yet, but everything the Obama administration comes into contact with becomes totally inept. Almost everybody Obama has appointed requires adult supervision just to use the restroom. And the U.S. Senate has abetted him every step of the way.

savage24 on March 2, 2014 at 11:09 PM

Why is anyone surprised? Immediately after his election he pulled the plans for missiles in Eastern Europe, after those countries stuck their necks out to host them, in his and Hillary!TM’s silly “reset”. Before the 2012 elections, he told Medeved to relay to Putin his increased “flexibility” following his reelection. He brandished his “red line” over Syria, spent days looking for a way out of any commitment, and, following an off-hand remark by Ketchup-Boy, gratefully took Putin’s offer, the terms of which have been reneged on by Putin and Assad. What has Obama and his crew done to suggest to Putin that a push into Ukraine might be ill-advised?

tpitman on March 3, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Actually, wikileaks showed that the US saw this as possible more then a year ago. So… nice try administration…

Karmashock on March 3, 2014 at 7:18 AM

The lesson of history is that BOTH World Wars started EXACTLY in this way – think about it.

And I hate to say this because I know what the backlash will be – Palin was NOT surprised.

PJ Emeritus on March 3, 2014 at 9:39 AM

American intelligence

…this administration? O X Y M O R O N !!!!

KOOLAID2 on March 1, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Hey! Give ’em a break, they were too busy watchin’ us to worry about the Russians.

yesiamapirate on March 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Proving once again the worth of our intelligence establishment.

oldennis on March 3, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Dad and I were watching the closing ceremonies at the Olympics. There was a shot of Putin and some Olympic mucky-muck standing there. I told my Dad it looked like Putin was guy who was planning an invasion.

How come I’m evidently so much smarter than all those intelligence guys?

trigon on March 3, 2014 at 11:50 AM