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However, doing it in a way that does not harm non-targeted populations requires nuance and trained people, he said.

“If we’re going to perform a deception where data can go almost anywhere, we have to be very careful not to harm that environment that is a central treasure of ours,” Mr. Schaffner said, noting that blowback must be prevented at all costs.

President Obama on Monday issued a directive to the military’s command structure making several changes, one of which is shifting responsibility for military deception from the U.S. Strategic Command to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.


CIA analysts are bound to provide government policymakers with objective analyses and assessments free of policy designs.

So current and former intelligence officials were surprised by a recent news report revealing that a group of agency analysts celebrated a policy victory of sorts several years ago by issuing a special coin after they had prevented President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from ordering an attack on Syria’s secret desert nuclear facility.

According to journalist Bob Woodward, the analysts worked to dissuade Mr. Bush from attacking the al Kibar reactor facility, which Israeli jets eventually destroyed, claiming there was “low confidence” that it was for nuclear arms.

“At the CIA afterward, the group of specialists who had worked for months on the Syrian reactor issue were pleased they had succeeded in avoiding the overreaching so evident in the Iraq WMD case,” Mr. Woodward wrote in The Washington Post.

“So they issued a very limited-circulation memorial coin. One side showed a map of Syria with a star at the site of the former reactor. On the other side the coin said, ‘No core/No war.’”

A spokesmen for the director of national intelligence had no immediate comment.

John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations and the State Department’s key arms-proliferation policymaker in the Bush administration, said he is concerned about the reported CIA politicization.

“Thank goodness the Israelis didn’t listen to them,” Mr. Bolton said. “This is a real breach of the ‘wall of separation’ between intelligence and policy.”

A former senior intelligence official said he was astonished that CIA analysts would take such a blatant policy position.

“Whose side are these guys on?” the former official asked.

A second former official said that until the Woodward report, it was thought the State Department and White House National Security Council were suppressing intelligence on the Syria-North Korean reactor facility to avoid upsetting the six-nation nuclear talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

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