How the Spooks Missed India's Bomb

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Why didn't the CIA see India's nuclear tests coming? Because they didn't have the right mindset. The head of an inquest into the intelligence failure blasted agents Tuesday for believing the country's Hindu Nationalist BJP party "would behave as we behave" -- and that they wouldn't live up to their campaign promises, specifically the one about adding nukes to the country's arsenal. As retired admiral David Jeremiah looks set to report to Congress, the spooks thought the Indians would balk at the cost, like a U.S. politician. That's why they didn't spend enough money or time watching the subcontinent, says Jeremiah.

Faced with such stinging criticism from the man he tapped to head the inquiry, all CIA director George Tenet could do was mutely protest that "no one was asleep at the switch." A better defense might be simply to point out the agency's location: After all, who in Washington would believe that politicians keep their promises?