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January 5, 2010
The CIA takes on global warming
Buoyed perhaps by the brilliance of its recent National Intelligence Estimates - including a recent one which suggested Iran had given up its nuclear weapon efforts, the CIA is adding global warmng to its portfolio:
The nation's top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government's intelligence assets - including spy satellites and other classified sensors - to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests. The collaboration restarts an effort the Bush administration shut down and has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The effort is not without its critics:
Controversy has often dogged the use of federal intelligence gear for environmental monitoring. In October, days after the C.I.A. opened a small unit to assess the security implications of climate change, Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said the agency should be fighting terrorists, "not spying on sea lions."
Now, with the intelligence world under fire after the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day, and with the monitoring program becoming more widely known, such criticism seems likely to grow.