First the Obama administration withdrew all U.S. military forces from Iraq. Last month, we learned that the State Department was joining the Obama retreat when the New York Times reported that the Department had “slashed—and may jettison entirely by the end of the year—a multibillion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission here.”
Now we learn that the Obama administration has ordered the CIA to slash its presence in Iraq as well. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Central Intelligence Agency is preparing to cut its presence in Iraq to less than half of wartime levels, according to U.S. officials familiar with the planning, a move that is largely a result of challenges the CIA faces operating in a country that no longer welcomes a major U.S. presence.
Under the plans being considered, the CIA’s presence in Iraq would be reduced to 40% of wartime levels, when Baghdad was the largest CIA station in the world with more than 700 agency personnel, officials said….
The move comes amid worries over possible gaps in U.S. intelligence about the threat posed by al Qaeda in Iraq…. The plan would also reduce the U.S. intelligence presence in the region as neighboring Syria appears to be verging on civil war.
Like the State Department reductions, the Journal reports that:
The planned reductions at the CIA represent a major shift from the approach under consideration just six months ago. Late last year, the CIA and Pentagon were considering several options for CIA and special-operations commandos to team up in Iraq, according to current and former officials. One option was to have special-operations forces operate under covert CIA authority, similar to the arrangement used in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
“There was a general consensus,” said a former intelligence official, “that there was a need for this in Iraq.”… The result is a degraded U.S. awareness about the activities of al Qaeda in Iraq, particularly at a tactical level, officials said.
“Half of our situational awareness is gone,” said one U.S. official.
Remember when Vice President Biden claimed Iraq would be a major “success story” of the Obama administration? Not looking that way today. Despite Obama’s assurances to the contrary, the pathetic American retreat from Iraq continues apace.