This is a difficult period for CIA and a tough time for someone to argue its merits. But I am proud to have worked at CIA for thirty plus years. The Agency did some extraordinary things for this country. I was part of those successes. I do regret some of the things I did not do, some of the questions I did not ask, some of the actions I did not take. As to personal responsibility, I am a product of CIA's culture and I influenced that culture. I share its credit for what it did well and share the blame for its shortcomings.
Given the chance to offer personal views on the Intelligence Community, it is tempting to range widely and address all aspects of the business of intelligence-the implications of the end of the Cold War, the national security problems now facing the US, and the full range of intelligence activities--from R&D through the various collection disciplines and into finished intelligence. I believe, however, it is worthwhile to focus on a few key issues and some ideas for how to improve performance in the future. I also plan to center my comments on CIA. It is in real trouble and is the core of most debate. That does not mean that I believe the NSA Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office and other elements of the intelligence community are unimportant but I will leave them for another discussion. Finally, I am not going to spend a lot of time on past shortcomings--there are already too many experts and amateurs wallowing about in that area.
I would like to address five issues:
1. The need for a strong, independent central intelligence agency and some concerns about the increasing dominance of the Department of Defense.
2. Concerns about the clandestine service of CIA.
3. Oversight and management of the Intelligence Community.
4. Analysis and the customer.
5. Economic security and intelligence.
--I believe that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (who is also the Director of Central Intelligence) should not serve a specific term. The position should be filled by someone chosen by the President and who is a peer of other key policy makers in the national security arena. Line officers in the CIA should be intelligence professionals. The Deputy Director of CIA should be an intelligence professional, possibly from the clandestine service. I am not arguing that no one from the outside can be brought in, but key line jobs-- like the heads of the military services--should be held by professional officers. Intelligence is a profession.
--Being independent is not enough. To be effective CIA must have clout--clout with other organizations that compete for influence and money, especially the defense and State Departments. Authority overseas as the focal point for activities and liaison, leadership in R&D and the procurement of intelligence collection systems, and a real claim as the premier analytic organization are key attributes.
--Over the past few years CIA appears to be treated as just another unit in the intelligence community. The Intelligence Community Staff, DCI centers for narcotics, terrorism, and nonproliferation were set up at the expense of CIA central role. Defense, in particular, has been given control of more and more activities where CIA once played an important if not dominant role. The imagery business is the most striking example, but there are many CIA currently appears to be just another agency in the Defense budget process. CIA is just one of several organizations that compete for influence overseas ( a situation that must delight and confuse our foreign partners and targets). Much of the current debate about intelligence addresses the issue of DCI authorities. A strong and independent central intelligence organization is at the core of DCI authority.
--The emphasis on support to military operations has been healthy. The "bloody end of the stick", "the point of the spear", "getting the intelligence to the warfighter" are good slogans and sound principles. Most of expensive technical collection systems are justified because they support the military in war. Consequently the military should have a strong voice in what must support military operations. But it has other objectives that are equally important--providing intelligence and supporting activities aimed at avoiding the use of military forces and addressing the complex set of issues outside the military sphere.
--Covert and political action (under the control of a civilian intelligence organization) probably is more important now than at any time since the end of WWII. It appears that the capability and will to conduct such activity is woefully lacking. When it comes to imposing US will, we are more comfortable sending fighter aircraft to strike targets than using covert military or political action to influence the outcome. Covert action is a useful tool only when it is part of a much broader and integrated policy initiative. Political actions is not a panacea and requires a clearly developed objectives. Accepting these conditions, covert action is an instrument of the US. In my judgement, paramilitary "covert" actions should be run by a civilian organization.
--Heavy involvement by the Defense Intelligence Agency in clandestine operations is a mistake--not just for the nation but for DoD. The clandestine operations business is filled with pitfalls, requires a major infrastructure, and oversight. Protection of overseas facilities and preparation of the battle field are legitimate areas, but it is not hard to imagine CIA, DIA, and the FBI running into each other on a regular basis only to acquire marginal information. It also is easy to imagines the Secretary of Defense spending a lot of time on the Hill explaining what went wrong.
--One additional point on Defense and intelligence. Without CIA and support from civilians outside CIA, imagery satellites, the U-2 and the SR-71 would not have been so aggressively pursued. The military services necessarily focus on their own interests and enhancements that help their forces. They have not been major supporters of national programs until they found they could not do without them. Defense also will eat up all the collection resources to support current crises. It is important to have a strong civilian organization that competes for these resource operating from a different set of priorities.
CIA needs to revitalize itself as a technological leader. While it may not drive technology today, it can take the lead in applying commercial technology to intelligence with streamline procedures and a minimum of bureaucracy.
--The clandestine service of the Cold War does not serve present needs. It probably got too big, too walled off, and too isolated. Much of its "culture"--independence and flexibility,--must be maintained. But like the US military after Vietnam, it needs an overhaul. Introducing rules, directives and structure may make the senior managers fell more comfortable, but a clear statement of mission, training and new creative ideas that originate inside the organization probably are most critical. Most important is strong leadership from within.
--Cutting back on the number of clandestine stations overseas (and cutting back the State Department presence) makes little sense. Regular contact with foreign governments, the elite in a country, the opposition and future leaders is a primary task of CIA overseas. These activities are not substitutes for diplomatic presence but additive and involve people and relationships that are different than those of State. It also is useful to have lines of contact open when diplomatic channels are clogged or strained. The clandestine service needs to be world wide. Our ability to predict where the next crisis will occur is not particularly good.
--Targets of the clandestine service have changed. Recruitment of agents of real or potential adversaries is still of prime importance. But in most countries access to those with influence, whether they are controlled agents or not, is equally valuable. Being in the right place and having entree to the right circles is extremely valuable. --we need to reassess what is valued about officers in the clandestine service. There will be increasing need to work in teams and in task forces. More and more of our business is going to be done by multi- disciplinary teams targeted on specific problems and missions. That does not mean that we should make generalists our of all case officers -- tradecraft and experience in operations remain key.
--The clandestine service has not valued assignments outside its core activities. over the past ten years or so, senior executive positions in the Agency were usually filled by officers from the Directorate of Intelligence. Officers from that organization usually had served in a variety of positions inside and outside CIA. The career promotion boards in the clandestine service did not credit work outside the service. Having DDI fill most senior officers in CIA meant there were real gaps in knowledge about how the clandestine service functioned. They were not in a strong position to question how things were done. I have specific examples in officers from the clandestine service that worked as special assistants when I was DDCI. They were not credited for that assignment by their promotion panels.
Management: The DCI's primary management team is composed of the Director of NSA, the Director of DIA, the Director of the NRO, the head of INR and often someone from the CIA other than the DCI or DDCI. This group cannot provide strong advice on issues that affect the intelligence community as a whole because their interest necessarily must be driven by the interests of their own organizations. CIA tends to be the loser in this process because it is not represented by its head--the DCI must be seen as ecumenical. The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is not an important source of support for the intelligence community or a valued critic. It does not seem to carry weight with the National Security Advisor or the President and it has little visibility in technical circles or in Congress.
--It might be useful to create a real board of directors to advise the DCI. While it is not customary for advisory boards in government to have much clout, there is no reason why a board drawn from industry, academia, retired military and intelligence officers, information gurus and scientists could not be given some authority for directing the intelligence community and CIA in particular. It could have direct impact on new programs and personnel appointments. It could give on programs and activities. It could be both an internal critic and an external supporter.
Oversight: There is no question that an organization that has special authorities and operates in secret needs strong oversight--by its own Inspector General, by the Executive, and by Congress. But oversight is more than a search for any violation of the rules or the law. It should also be advocacy. Good oversight should identify what went right as well as what went wrong. I understand why the oversight committees are angry about not being kept well informed--they have assumed that responsibility for their fellow members and feel hung out when some flap occurs on a situation about which they are not up to speed. But sometimes what happens to them becomes more important that how well CIA does in accomplishing its fundamental mission.
--Oversight should involve assessing the impact of intelligence on policy. The question of whether the Mexican financial crisis was well covered by intelligence probably is as important as transgressions in Guatemala. The quality of policy and the impact of intelligence on that policy are important questions that need to be addressed. Has CIA had an impact on US policy in Bosnia? If so, why doesn't someone say so? If not, why isn't that the subject of review?
--Oversight itself needs to be reexamined now after 20 years of proliferating organs and activities. The way we do oversight today is not consistent with a serious, effective intelligence effort over the long haul. It had gotten too political, too publicity prone and lines of responsibility are too confused. It is time to examine the executive orders, laws and directives that bear on clandestine operations and on other aspects of intelligence. Although I am not a fan of "blue ribbon" panels, a group of former legislators, some legal experts, some retired clandestine service officers and others could develop a comprehensive package for consideration by the Executive and Congress. Strong oversight but enabling. Clear and concise direction that gives guidance but provides the maximum flexibility.
--Although some critics argue that the importance of technical intelligence went South with the end of the Cold War, nothing could be farther from the truth. Today a number of countries sell advanced weapons systems and the support to go with them in the open market. Some very sophisticated threats can be put in place rapidly. This poses a real challenge to intelligence. The answers are not available just by reading the sales brochures.
--In this age of one liner, many believe that information equates to understanding. Continuity and experience still count for something. Experienced analysts with a deep sense of history and access to the full range of classified and open source information are key to serving the policy maker. The capital stock of expertise needed for deep analysis is being depleted.
--The current written product of CIA--current intelligence, research products and estimates--need updating. The customers should get a product tailored to their needs. They should be offered some choices in how they received information. They should be able to talk to key analysts. Consideration should be given to resurrecting the National Intelligence Survey program that provided detailed country by country information on subjects ranging from geography to financial systems. Such a program, run by CIA with participation of the DoD and other agencies, would provide an important base of information for the entire government.
--Teaming with the outside world is imperative. national Estimates should be drafted by floating teams of experts drawn from the press, academia, the business and scientific worlds, and"even" foreign experts.
--Perhaps the major challenge is to tap all the sources of information and integrate them into the final product. Information systems and analytic techniques to help the analyst move through this maze are slow coming and will cost a bundle, but they are worth the time and money. While "surfing the net" is the current fad, intelligence must focus on national security policy that deals with sensitive and often dangerous issues. There must be security and control--not strong points of the Internet world.
--CIA should continue to be in the military analysis business. It is important that alternative views about the military threat and effectiveness of US military operations be available. CIA should maintain an independent imagery analysis organization. It should be in a position to assess the impact of the air strikes in Bosnia. It should be deeply involved in assessing the implications of introducing NATO ground forces into the region. This type of analysis makes military planners and policy makers uncomfortable. Certainly if done in public or used for political purposes by the Congress, it can be destructive. But issues like this are too important not to use the full resources of the government.
--More can be done to support the interests of the US in the area of economic analysis. Some consideration should be given to establishing a partnership between CIA,m a university, and some private or federally funded group. The objective would be systematic, all source analysis of current or prospective economic issues. That analysis could be based on classified and unclassified information and be made available to government and (in some sanitized form) to the private sector., An example of the work that could be done: Vietnam. A broad body of information should be available to the US government and potential investors. For example, information on the current infrastructure or lack thereof -- telecommunications, electric power, transportation, banking an finance, and labor. In addition, information on the basic strategies of other countries. How are they investing? Where and how do they arrange credit, buy land, hire labor, contract for services? Who are the principal players?
Is this the job of the CIA? I believe