U.S. intelligence refers to some of the most formidable and top intelligence available in the world. The United States has long led the way in the practice of gathering the most up-to -- the minute and esoteric intelligence regarding the actions of other countries, other armies and the other enemies. The current modern age has demonstrated the steady advancement in this regard of a range of sound technological tools which America has harnessed consistently for the effective pursuit of the most current and hard to gather intelligence.
The use of combat drones has been something that America has long used to gather intelligence and to engage in warfare with enemies or suspected enemies. However, in the last 12 months, the usage of drones has steadily decreased. "The number of drone strikes approved by the Obama administration on suspected terrorists has fallen dramatically this year, as the war with al Qaeda increasingly shifts to Africa and U.S. intelligence craves more captures and interrogations of high-value targets. U.S. officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday that the reasons for a shift in tactics are many -- including that al Qaeda's senior ranks were thinned out so much in 2011 and 2012 by an intense flurry of drone strikes, and that the terrorist network has adapted to try to evade some of Washington's use of the strikes or to make them less politically palatable" (Taylor & Wong, 2013). But even so, the press reports that there is a strong and sizeable need and desire to close the chasm in human intelligence regarding al Qaeda's operations (Taylor & Wong, 2013). At this time there appears to be less of an interest in the use of drones and more of an interest in commando raids such as the one in Libya just a few days ago that caused a desired and sought-after terrorist suspect to be captured (Taylor & Wong, 2013).
However drones have been causing recent controversy in the news, with Pakistan claiming that U.S. drone strikes have killed 67 civilians since 2008, though the U.S. claims that it has always followed international law (BBC, 2013). AU.S. drone strike was recently reported to have killed senior Shabab members in southern Somalia (Aljazeera.com, 2013). These reasons along with the bad press that has accompanied them are part of the factors for why the U.S. is steadily moving away from the usage of drones in their military and intelligence gathering.
Recent news has demonstrated the sheer outrage over U.S. spies and the viewed violation of privacy of ordinary Americans. As one former British intelligence official said, "Finding out what other governments are thinking is what [intelligence] agencies do,'…Those words were echoed by the U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who told Congress on Tuesday that it's 'kind of a basic tenet' of U.S. intelligence gathering to determine the intentions of foreign leaders" (Simmons & Neubert, 2013). As Clapper says, this is not a perennial practice and the use of foreign spies occurs not only in the U.S. But all over the world. Relying heavily on human spies is one way for governments to keep their people safe. This is one of the oldest ways of gathering intelligence and it will no doubt be used for decades to come, if not forever. As intelligence head Clapper has described, it's absolutely standard procedure for U.S. intelligence to eavesdrop on the leadership intentions of foreign allies, particularly when the implication is that they're eavesdropping on us (Mardell, 2013). While some have viewed all the press that the U.S. spy community has received of late as completely negative, other major players in the community have said quite plainly that spying is simply what spies do. "The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington says if anyone was expecting apologies or embarrassment from the leaders of America's intelligence community they were in for a disappointment" (Mardell, 2013). Part of the uproar that is occurring is based on the fact that U.S. civilians have found out that American intelligence spies and entities like the NSA have been also gathering intelligence within our country, directed at common civilians. "The Obama administration is in its current mess because Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor doing billions of dollars of secret work for the government, gave a troubled 29-year-old high school graduate access to a vast array of secrets. The system is in need of reform and the smaller, more agile European services may…