W. Patrick Lang

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W. Patrick "Pat" Lang is a retired United States Army colonel, who publishes the Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, and President of Global Resources Group, a consulting firm. He has also worked with the Future Millennium Foundation, a not for profit family charitable and developmental foundation sponsored by a Lebanese industrialist and politician. This foundation was involved in vocational training and micro-credit lending as well as support to the Peace Process. In this capacity, he registered as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. [1] He is a frequent contributor at National Journal.

Before retirement, he was in United States Army Special Forces, and then was Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism, and then Director of the Defense HUMINT Service (i.e., human-source intelligence) at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He taught Arabic at the United States Military Academy.

Civilian-military relations

He has expressed concern over the argument of Sen. Jon Kyl and Kit Bond that the generals should direct U.S. policy in the field, as opposed to Sen. Jim Webb that the President retains final authority. [2] He continued this concern over recent statements by GEN Stanley McChrystal.[3]

Cross-cultural awareness

A substantial part of the problem in the Iraq War, he believes, is the assumption, by Americans, that other peoples want the same culture.

How did Americans come to believe that the entire world is embarked on the same voyage, and that we are the navigators showing the way to a bright future? Our own culture is a rich blend, brewed from such elements as enlightenment, optimism, Puritan utopianism, a Calvinist tendency to not forgive sinners, and the settler’s lack of respect for the weak and “native” peoples of the world. In the United States, such threads have pushed us to believe that we are all in a melting pot of common ideology. This belief system has been fed to us in the public schools, through Hollywood, and now in the endless prattle of 24-hour news networks. It has become secular religion, a religion so strong that any violation of its tenets brings instant and savage condemnation. So called “neoconservatism” isn’t some kind of alien ideology; it’s merely a self-aware manifestation of the widespread American belief that people are all the same. The repeated assertion by U.S. President George W. Bush that history is dominated by the existence of “universal values” is proof in the pudding.[4]


As part of a February 2009 National Journal panel response to how President Barack Obama should proceed with respect to Iran, he wrote, "The structure of the question implies a situation in which the United States has more or less complete freedom of action in which to pick and choose among options. That is not the case. ... America stands on the brink of disaster economically. The shape and condition of our social contract a year from now is debatable if the economic crisis can not be mitigated. In that context it is doubtful if we can afford the two wars we are now fighting much less the costs that would inevitably derive from yet a further war against Iran...The United States should seek an understanding with Iran in which the Iranians insure that the IAEA has such complete access to its nuclear facilities that there can be no credible claims that they are building nuclear weapons. The Iranians should also give up their support for violent groups that are not willing to transform themselves into democratic political parties. In return the Iranians must be accepted as a major power in the Islamic World." [5]


He responded to Michael Scheuer's comment in the above National Journal panel, "If they want to wage war against each other, God and Allah bless them -- and let America steer clear of the mayhem until one destroys the other or they destroy each other." with "This creates the impression that you subscribe to the notion that "God" and "Allah" are two distinct beings or at least conceptualizations. Since I know you, I doubt that you intend this to be a literal rather than a figurative expression. Nevertheless, such an expression is deeply offensive to Muslims. How did you intend this? As I think you know, I am not a Muslim."

Philosophy of intelligence

Among the problems he sees in American intelligence are:[6]

  1. Leadership: A problem not unique to the United States, there are failures in managing all phases of the intelligence cycle. The public, Lang believes, thinks that the leadership of the United States intelligence community is filled with executives "reminiscent of “George Smiley,” the wonderful British spy and spymaster whose presence fills the earlier novels of John Le Carre. The character, “Smiley” is wise, sadly pessimistic, a profound student of mankind and devoted to his “people.” While such people do exist, top-level executives are apt to be managerial rather than subject matter specialists. They often fall into the trap of mirror-imaging.
  2. Analysis by Committee. "Much the same phenomena exist on the analytic “side” of the intelligence business. Brilliant people from the best schools “sign up” for a career in intelligence work from a sense of patriotism, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to “make a difference” in the world. What typically happens to them after that is that they are “eaten alive” by bureaucracies utterly controlled by the “managerial” mentality."
  3. Domination of the Intelligence Function by the Executive Branch..."All these groups are deeply imbedded within these “ministries” of government in a constitutional system which ensures that the authority of the political party that controls the white House will control the intelligence agencies as well. This means that the temptation that will always be presented to politicians to attempt to shape” both information collection and the analysis of that information to their taste is likely to be overwhelming."

Apropos of domination by the Executive Branch, in a 2003 New Yorker article, quoted him as saying “The Pentagon has banded together to dominate the government’s foreign policy, and they’ve pulled it off. They’re running Chalabi. The DIA has been intimidated and beaten to a pulp. And there’s no guts at all in the CIA.”Seymour Hersh quotes Lang [7] }}</ref>

Iraq War

With respect to improvised explosive devices in the Iraq War, he was quoted, by the Washington Post, as not being surprised that the Iraqis used U.S. techniques, since they had been in U.S. military schools until the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. [8] The article suggested that U.S. forces could make assumptions about U.S. techniques in the IEDs, in order to counter them.


  1. "W. Patrick Lang", Allexperts.com
  2. W. Patrick Lang (27 September 2009), "They had a lean and hungry look", Sic Semper Tyrannis
  3. W. Patrick Lang (3 October 2009), ""A General's Public Pressure" - Ackerman", Sic Semper Tyrannis
  4. W. Patrick Lang, Jr. (February 2007), "What Iraq Tells Us About Ourselves", [{Foreign Policy (magazine)
  5. W. Patrick Lang (9 February 2009), "(Response to) Obama's Approach To Iran: How Should He Proceed?", National Journal
  6. W. Patrick Lang, Bureaucrats Versus Artists
  7. Seymour M. Hersh (12 May 2003), "Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?", New Yorker
  8. Bradley Graham and Dana Priest (3 May 2005), "Insurgents Using U.S. Techniques: Iraqis' Borrowing Could Help American Forces' Response", Washington Post