Monday, September 7, 1998 Published at 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
What the CIA didn't know
The CIA did not spot Indian nuclear test preparations
With the failure of US intelligence to detect both the East Africa bombings and India's recent nuclear tests, Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus investigates whether the CIA is losing its edge.
The bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam came from out of the blue. America's huge and sophisticated intelligence gathering machine seemingly provided no warnings of the attack.
But the setback in East Africa is not the agency's only recent failing.
In May 1998, India conducted a series of underground nuclear explosions. And not for the first time, the US intelligence services failed to spot the preparations for the tests.
We live, so we are constantly told, in an information age. Round the clock news broadcasts, e-mail and the Internet give people unprecedented access to information.
And amidst this avalanche of so-called open source material there is much useful intelligence - you have simply got to know where to look.
The intelligence services no longer have a monopoly on information gathering. And their world is changing in other ways too.
Gone is the existential Soviet threat - replaced by a world more like the 1920s, where future threats are harder to define.
The CIA must also learn to work more closely with US law enforcement agencies like the FBI.
The CIA is a little over 50 years old. Seventy percent of the CIA's effort was directed at the Soviet Union and it still failed to see the internal weaknesses that finally precipitated the collapse of the Soviet regime.
There are now signs that the CIA is more ready to look at its failings.
How it addresses these problems will determine its effectiveness during the decade ahead.