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. Very, very badly.

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.

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.)