Tuesday, March 31, 2020

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Are Having Problems Assessing The Pandemic In China, North Korea, And Russia

Reuters: U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. spy agencies seek to assemble a precise picture of the world’s coronavirus outbreaks, they are finding serious gaps in their ability to assess the situation in China, Russia and North Korea, according to five U.S. government sources familiar with the intelligence reporting.

The agencies also have limited insight into the full impact of the pandemic in Iran, although information on infections and deaths among the ruling class and public is becoming more available on official and social media, two sources said.

The four countries are known by U.S. spy agencies as “hard targets” because of the heavy state controls on information and the difficulty, even in normal times, of collecting intelligence from within their closed leadership circles.

An accurate assessment of those countries’ outbreaks would aid U.S. and international efforts to limit the human and economic tolls from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, experts say.

The agencies are not just looking for accurate numbers, but also for any signs of the political ramifications of how the crisis is being handled.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I would add Iran to the list. I can understand why it is hard to understand what is happening in North Korea, and to a lesser extent China. But the Russian stats should not be that hard to figure out.

Update: This is what U.S. intelligence should focus on .... Before this pandemic ends, intel agencies should prepare for a world of threats(David B. Rivkin, Jr. and George S. Beebe, The Hill).

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