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C.I.A. Puts an End to 'Unnecessary, Wasteful and Totally Out of Place' Climate Change Unit


"It’s critically important for the C.I.A. to focus its resources on preventing terrorism and keeping Americans safe.”

The CIA's Center on Climate Change and National Security has been closed only three years after being established.

This unit was started in 2009 not to study the science behind climate change but to use intelligence to evaluate how various potential results of global warming could impact national security. The intent of the center was to provide policymakers with this side of information, which the center's website states it has done for years. Here's more about what the unit was expected to do:

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.

“Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well positioned to deliver that intelligence,” Director Leon Panetta, said at the time of he announcement.

Although the officially established center is now being disbanded, the New York Times reported CIA spokesman Todd Ebtiz saying that the duties once prescribed to the climate change unit within the agency would be conducted by another department focusing on economic security.

“The C.I.A. for several years has studied the national security implications of climate change,” Mr. Ebitz said in an email, according to the Times. “As part of a broader realignment of analytic resources, this work continues to be performed by a dedicated team in a new office that looks at economic and energy matters affecting America’s national security. The mission and the resources devoted to it remain essentially unchanged.”

The Hill blog pointed out that the service Greenwire first reported about the center's closure, stating that it "received little internal support" after Panetta left the CIA to take on the position of Defense Secretary.

The Times reported Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) saying closing the center was "the right decision."

“I offered an amendment on the Senate floor to eliminate the center because it was unnecessary, wasteful and totally out of place," Barrasso said in a statement according to the Times. "It’s critically important for the C.I.A. to focus its resources on preventing terrorism and keeping Americans safe.”

Earlier this week, the Atlantic Wire pointed out that the center was involved in helping fund a report released by the National Research Council that stated weather events from climate change would "produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global system to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response."

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