In a word, incredible:
[…] The melancholy truth, according to my well placed sources, is that even after the intelligence disasters of 9/11 and Iraq, President Obama has a better chance of getting up-to-the-minute information on, say, Hamas, from newspapers than he does the PDB – the President’s Daily Brief – served up by the Directorate of National Intelligence and CIA.
‘So,’ I asked a former intelligence agency head over seafood this week, ‘if I’m President Obama, and I call Leon Panetta into the Oval office and ask him to tell me how Hamas leaders are holding up under the Israeli assault, will he be able to tell me?’
The former official shook his head, nearly blushing.
No. ‘That’s not the kind of information’ they focus on.
‘Well, what do they focus on?’ I asked.
If the viability of Hamas isn’t important right now, what is?
He said the CIA, State Department and Pentagon intelligence agencies do have people specializing on the Palestinians, and even Hamas. But it’s not likely they would have up-to-the-minute information on whether, say, in response to Israeli military pressure, its leaders are fighting among each other, unifying, or even where they are.
They just don’t have that kind of stuff, he said.
What about the NSA? I asked. Could the CIA’s Hamas guy call his NSA counterpart and get cell phone intercepts from Gaza to help fill in some holes?
‘They won’t give it to him, because they don’t want their information to help CIA look good.’