“Well, I’m not sure what the issue is. I mean obviously that’s why you get briefings to try to deep dive into it to see whether it’s a lack of intelligence gathering or whether there were some signs that analysts just didn’t see.
The Crotchniks and Christniks are blaming our President for not anticipating Putin’s next moves. How dare they! The Pube Party has been having a field day making laws that shame the human penis and vagina, while the real big bad wolf, is seen as their bosom crotch buddy.
Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s history as a tough-as-nails leader bent on restoring Russia’s sphere of influence, the U.S. intelligence community failed to read the signs when it came to Ukraine.
That has members of Congress asking why there was no clear warning that Russia would respond militarily to the abrupt departure of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by sending troops into Crimea — and what intelligence agencies plan to do about the oversight.
“We have to better deploy our resources… because we have large resources and it should not be possible for Russia to walk in and take over the Crimea and it’s a done deal by the time we know about it,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told POLITICO as she left a closed-door briefing for committee members on Ukraine and other issues. Feinstein indicated that the intelligence community has already moved to re-focus on the region.
(PHOTOS: Ukraine turmoil)
“We’re going to look at the priorities and talk with the administration and talk with various people in the intelligence community,” she added. “I think some changes have already been made.”
The top Republican on the panel, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, agreed something was missed.
“Well, I’m not sure what the issue is. I mean obviously that’s why you get briefings to try to deep dive into it to see whether it’s a lack of intelligence gathering or whether there were some signs that analysts just didn’t see. But it’s pretty clear that there was no indication that this was coming like it did,” Chambliss said Tuesday.
“I’m not pointing the finger at anything because I don’t know what the answer is,” he said. “I don’t know who dropped the ball.”
A range of lawmakers and intelligence community experts are puzzled about why U.S. intelligence agencies seem to have misjudged Putin’s intentions and whether the lack of warning fits a pattern of other significant intelligence shortcomings in recent years.
(WATCH: Driving the Day: Hill, business brace for Ukraine aid)
The answers could affect how the huge but shrinking intelligence budget is allocated in the future, possibly focusing more attention and resources on traditional adversaries like Russia and China and a somewhat less on the overarching focus of the past decade: terrorism.
Earlier warning of Putin’s move might have given the U.S. and other allies more time to try to dissuade him and prompted more effort in doing so. But it’s unclear whether the Russian leader would have bowed to such pressure.
Other senators leaving the same briefing Tuesday afternoon described the present state of intelligence on the issue as muddled and sketchy.
“There just seemed to be a lack of current intelligence, but I can’t go into details,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). She called questions about a lack of warning “very valid,” but declined to elaborate.
(Also on POLITICO: Hillary Clinton’s Ukraine — and 2016 — problem)
Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — who’s been highly critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy — portrayed the U.S. as being blindsided by Putin’s actions. “I think it’s very clear that this whole operation took this administration and the intelligence community by surprise, but it shouldn’t have,” McCain told the Daily Beast.
“From everything I’ve seen, this was not anticipated,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Monday. “I think there will have to be a whole evaluation of what our links into Russia are and [into] determining their policy.”
King said it was evident that U.S. policymakers such as Obama viewed Putin’s move as unlikely — until it happened.
“As far as the administration, I think they had to be taken off guard,” he said. “They were making these very tough pronouncements that there will be consequences and he won’t do it. I don’t think they would have done that if they were thinking that Putin would do this.”
(Also on POLITICO: What the White House is thinkin on Ukraine)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Tuesday that he also plans a review of Ukraine-related intelligence, but he stopped short of calling it an intelligence failure. “It was the analytic product, the certain conclusion in one particular case that nothing was going to happen in 24 hours—that was just wrong,” Rogers told the Daily Beast. “There was another thing out there from another agency that was different.”
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Obama was satisfied with the intelligence he received on Russian intentions in Ukraine. But spokesmen for the U.S. intelligence community defended its work.
”Prior to and throughout the situation in Ukraine, the intelligence community has provided timely and valuable information that has helped policy makers understand the situation on the ground and make informed decisions. That continues to be the case today,” said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “Any suggestion that there were intelligence shortcomings related to the situation in Ukraine are uninformed and misleading.”
The Central Intelligence Agency says it’s always noted the possibility of aggressive military action.
“Since the beginning of the political unrest in Ukraine, the CIA has regularly updated policymakers to ensure they have an accurate and timely picture of the unfolding crisis,” agency spokesman Todd Ebitz said in an email. “These updates have included warnings of possible scenarios for a Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Any suggestion otherwise is flat wrong.”
While officials appear to disagree about the insights offered by U.S. intelligence, it’s beyond dispute that a lot of public commentary pundits offered as the Ukraine crisis unfolded was less than clairvoyant.
“Why Russia Won’t Interfere” blared the headline on a Feb. 24 op-ed by Carnegie Moscow Center’s Dmitri Trenin in the New York Times’s international edition .
“Moscow does not need to govern more people; it needs to raise the health, education and work standards in its own people’s lives,” Trenin wrote. “Despite what some Ukrainians suspect, Moscow is unlikely to try bringing about the breakup of Ukraine in order to annex its southern and eastern parts. That would mean civil war next door, and Russia abhors the idea. Moscow’s best option at this point is to stand back and wait, while quietly favoring decentralization in Ukraine.”