When I saw DHS is acquiring more drones this morning, I joked that the policy response of government agencies when they fail at their core function is to ask for more drones.
I swear, when I made that joke, I had not yet read how the CIA closed its climate change center because David Petraeus thought it more important to hunt terrorists with drones.
The center was designed as a small unit of senior specialists focused on the impact that environmental changes could have on political, economic and social factors in countries of concern to the United States. The analysts probed questions such as, under what scenarios might a massive drought cause large-scale migration, and when might a government’s failure to respond to a devastating flood open the door for terrorist groups to win over the local populace?The diddling Director, it seems, thought taking out an American teenager with a drone was more important than responding to a crisis that is already leading to migration and increased credibility for terrorist groups.
Analysts at the center worked to develop warning software that combined regional climate projections with political and demographic information, and held climate war games looking at what might happen in extreme scenarios, such as if rapid glacial melt caused the ocean’s major currents to shut down.
The center didn’t focus on the science behind climate change but instead relied on data from other government agencies as well as recommendations — including ones in a report released just over a week ago — from the National Academy of Sciences (Greenwire, Nov. 9).
But congressional Republicans skeptical of the science behind climate change sought to block the center’s funding shortly after it was launched. Those efforts failed, but sources say the center received little internal support after Panetta left the CIA in 2011 to take the top job at the Defense Department. Under his successor, David Petraeus, the agency was highly focused on terrorism, specifically targeted killings using armed drones. [my (Wheeler's) emphasis]
Even without the devastating take down of Petraeus's record by Michael Hastings,* the reporter who took down General Stanley McCrystal, it's pretty clear that we as a nation are in a much better position with someone, anyone, else at the helm of the CIA.
*The nickel tour of Hastings: Iraq surge was the aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing, his bronze star was political in nature, the Afghan surge was a failure, his first tour in Iraq (training security forces) was a miasma of corruption and weapons going to death squads.