Babbin claims CIA climate program diverts “valuable assets,” CIA disagrees

Washington Examiner contributor Jed Babbin claimed that the administration is “reassigning some of [the CIA's] most valuable assets to study global warming.” In fact, the CIA has said the climate data sharing program “draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event.”

Babbin claims Obama is “reassigning some of [CIA's] most valuable assets to study global warming”

From Babbin's April 26 Washington Examiner op-ed:

Espionage is probably the world's second-oldest profession. But Obama and congressional liberals treat its U.S. practitioners as if they were engaged in the first.

These politicians are waging war against our intelligence community, reducing its capabilities and reassigning some of its most valuable assets to study global warming. Intelligence priorities are politicized, operations are micromanaged and classified information is leaked.

[...]

Obama has revived a program that consumes some of the satellites' fuel in measuring global warming. Other classified sensor systems are also reportedly used to that end.

Obama claims the global warming effort doesn't interfere with intelligence gathering, but every picture of a polar bear's behind is one less picture that might reveal Osama bin Laden's location.

CIA says climate program draws on information “that is collected in any event”

CIA: Climate efforts assist scientists “without a large commitment of resources.” As Media Matters for America has noted, in a September 25, 2009, press release announcing the establishment of the Center on Climate Change and National Security, the CIA stated: “The Center will assume responsibility for coordinating with Intelligence Community partners on the review and declassification of imagery and other data that could be of use to scientists in their own climate-related research. This effort draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event, assisting the US scientific community without a large commitment of resources.”

Program reportedly has “the strong backing” of the CIA director. The New York Times reported on January 5:

America's top scientists and spies are collaborating in an effort to use the U.S. 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 shut down by the administration of President George W. Bush and has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

National Academy of Sciences president said program is “basically free.” The Times further reported:

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of the monitoring team, said the program was ''basically free.''

''People who don't know details are the ones who are complaining,'' Mr. Cicerone said.

NY Times: Officials said climate program has “little or no impact” on intelligence gathering. The Times report stated that "[t]he 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." The Times further reported that federal officials said the program “has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering” :

The monitoring program has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering, federal officials said, but instead releases secret information already collected or takes advantage of opportunities to record environmental data when classified sensors are otherwise idle or passing over wilderness.