- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Courtesy of Wired‘s Noah Schactman, here is National Intelligence Council Chairman Thomas Fingar’s testimony about the first ever National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change (pdf).
I attended Fingar’s testimony on the Hill this morning and was struck less by the NIA’s findings — droughts and crop failures might lead to instability in the third world and coastal flooding may threaten the U.S. defense infrastructure — than the unique nature of the report itself. Fingar acknowledged this in his testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:
This study used a fundamentally different kind of analytical methodology from what is typical for an intelligence product such as a National Intelligence Estimate. We depended upon open sources and greatly leveraged outside expertise.”
Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Rep. Anna Eshoo and her fellow Democrats at the hearing were excited about a greater future role for open-source intelligence gathering, and Fingar seemed receptive to the concept. But from his testimony, it didn’t seem as if the research conducted contained any new information that couldn’t be inferred by a layman reading the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was the starting point on the NIA’s research. As such, the NIA doesn’t really seem to accomplish much beyond stressing the urgency of climate change by describing it as a security issue.
This makes it all the more odd that the actual text of the NIA was classified by the National Intelligence Council. Fingar suggested that releasing specifics about how certain countries would be specifically affected would complicate U.S. diplomatic efforts, though my guess is that the countries in greatest danger from global warming are already well aware of it. Rep. Ed Markey saw a White House agenda in the classification:
If people know specifically what these problems will be and where they will be and who they will affect then perhaps we will finally have the political will to solve the problem… The president doesn’t want America to know the real risks of global warming.
I’m mostly curious to know if the report actually contains information that isn’t already public knowledge. If nothing else, it would be nice to think that this partisan tug-of-war is being fought over a document that actually matters.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |