LTG Michael Flynn, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, said the United States knew seven to ten days in advance of the crisis in Crimea, that the Russians were about to take military action, source here.
In an interview with NPR, LTG Flynn said that the US was watching the military exercises outside of Ukraine in addition to other indicators.
In my opinion the US Intelligence Community is, therefore, being unfairly blamed for a lack of action on the part of the United States. What is not being said is why the US failed to act, operationally.
Why, before Russian troops were put in Crimea, did the US not warn off President Putin? Why did the US wait until after tensions became gunpowder-explosive, to begin diplomatic talks? Why did President Obama not make a public remark that Russia should not increase tensions in already fragile Ukraine?
The use of information, Public Diplomacy, diplomacy, military shows of force, starting economic measures – all elements of national power that the United States had at its disposal – none were used in advance of Russian moves to intimidate Ukraine and sieze Crimea. As a leader, Mr. President, you failed to elicit or seek the proper advice from your key advisors in time to prevent a crisis. Perhaps your team is trying to insulate you from blame. Perhaps your team has their priorities mixed up. Perhaps your team is composed of the wrong people. Perhaps your team isn’t good enough.
This was not an intelligence failure.
Mr. President, you failed.