A Framework for Reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community: Chapter 2

A Framework for Reform of the
U.S. Intelligence Community

Chapter 2: National Interests and Intelligence Community Mission


Any coherent reform or reorganization of the Intelligence Community must make at least implicit decisions (or assumptions) about the nation's foreign interests and the role of intelligence in serving them. Strong presidents traditionally have provided such guidance explicitly. Sometimes Congress has played a role as well. At other times, academics or individuals of particular insight--such as George Kennan's containment strategy of the late 1940s--were major contributors to development of national decisions about foreign policy. A key reason for the drift of U.S. intelligence today is that the Clinton Administration has not articulated such a vision for the post-Cold War period, and none has sprung from other sources.

Even when presidents articulate general national strategic objectives--articulated formally in the form of annual National Security Strategy documents, for example--intelligence agencies often must made subordinate decisions about how to translate national goals into intelligence missions. In some areas, particularly at levels below those of grand strategy, Intelligence Community leaders regularly in the past made such decisions in the absence of guidance from presidents. But those leaders now are very weak. They seem incapable of formulation of any programmatic vision. Indeed, they seem generally unable or unwilling to exercise initiative in many areas.

There are many aspects to this process of translating national objectives into intelligence missions, but there is a relatively small number of key components. The reform debate must keep these elements under consideration if the reform/reorganization process is to be useful and constructive.

Scope of Mission

Intelligence agencies need guidance about the breadth of the issues they are required to monitor and to evaluate.

Historically, the mission scope has been a variant of "everything of national security importance to the United States." It was a good definition. It still is. For good reason, this definition makes no mention of either the existence or the end of the Soviet Union or the Cold War--although obviously the USSR was a major object of American security concern for years. This broad definition allowed expansion, contraction, and alteration of intelligence efforts as situations changed. It can well handle the disappearance of the Soviet Union, just as it can address the emergence of new national concerns and foreign policy opportunities. Indeed, the large number of people who believe that reassessment of intelligence is essential because the Soviet Union has disappeared simply display a lack of understanding of the nature, importance, and role of intelligence.

This point is critical and merits elaboration. U.S. intelligence, contrary to popular perception, never focused entirely on the Warsaw Pact countries. There never was a Soviet-focused "mono-culture" that was Cold Warrior in character(9). If anything, intelligence officers, mindful of Sun Tsu's directive about knowing one's enemy and wary of the many methodological pitfalls to collection and analysis of intelligence information, were almost entirely ideologically neutral students. This is true of friendly and allied intelligence services as well, in my experience. I believe intelligence officers generally are more objective than academics--who often fall into line with a favorite campus ideology. Indeed, it was the low incidence of ideologues at CIA that made the arrival of a few in senior positions--and a relatively modest number of ideologically mandated judgments--so conspicuous during Robert Gates' tenure as Deputy Director for Intelligence.

The multi-faceted nature of CIA's responsibilities shows up in its organization chart. See Figure 1. This 1990 CIA organization chart shows the Directorate of Intelligence's structure before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It indicates that only one of 11 offices was focused on the USSR. Recognizing that the Office of Soviet Analysis was a big office, and that some Warsaw Pact-related topics were covered by the Offices of European Analysis (Eastern Europe), Weapons and Scientific Research, and Imagery Analysis, the chart accurately suggests that a distinct minority of the DI's personnel strength was devoted to the Soviet Union and related topics. Actual personnel strengths assigned individual duties are cl assified. Nor was work on the USSR critical to bureaucratic success; many senior DI people, including former DDI Richard Kerr, never worked directly on Warsaw Pact countries.

Budgetary figures show a similar minority of assets devoted the Cold War topics, particularly for CIA. Former DCI Robert Gates has said that the share of the entire Intelligence Community budget devoted to the Soviet Union peaked in 1980 at 58 percent (10). This included the heavily Soviet-oriented military intelligence agencies and presumably included the cost of technical systems designed to collect against the Warsaw Pact, but which also were used against other targets. Gates later said 50 percent of Community resources were devoted to the USSR in fiscal 1990 and 34 percent in fiscal 1993; also in 1993, only 15 percent of CIA resources were devoted to the former Soviet Union (11).

Still, there is reason to revisit the issue of mission definition because the nation itself seems so unsure of its interests and concerns. Many commentators have noted an isolationist streak in the electorate in recent years, while neither the Clinton Administration nor academic foreign affairs specialists have reached anything close to consensus on the real national interests of the United States in the next century. Executive Branch and Congressional guidance on true national interests--and thus intelligence priorities--is important to rebuilding an Intelligence Community that serves national needs in cost effective ways that also restores the nation's confidence in it.

Almost by definition, the Intelligence Community cannot meet national intelligence needs if the nation does not collectively know what those needs are. This lack of national consensus is not the fault of intelligence. Representative Norm Dicks, ranking minority member of the HPSCI, put the point well:

What should American foreign policy and national security policy look like? Intelligence is just one aspect of that... Until you have an answer to the first question, I think it's hard to say exactly what you want out of your intelligence apparatus. (12)

Henry Kissinger has noted that it took a full four years after the end of World War II and the destruction of the war-time national foreign policy paradigm before the containment policy of the Cold War won acceptance by the Truman Administration (13). It may take longer this time.

This construction of a national decision about American interests should not degenerate into a debate--by either the Commission or the Congress--about specific intelligence targets. These are the objects of secondary and tertiary decisions. Instead, the focus of the debate should be global and strategic for several reasons:

  • Only senior decisionmakers, reflecting the national mood, can make the major strategic decisions that guide more specific organizational and budgetary decisions. Senior decisionmakers should not force the Intelligence Community to try to figure out what policymakers might have said they wanted if they had made a decision. Nor should they avoid the big decisions while opting to make the operationalizing decisions best left to intelligence professionals.

  • The effort at defining American intelligence interests should focus on general areas of priority--as well as directives about what activities are beyond the realm of intelligence activities. Thus, an important area of concern should be whether the Intelligence Community should enter areas like health and the environment where its contributions may be modest, and in which other government agencies, universities, and private sector organizations also have capabilities. The Clinton Administration apparently has done this to a limited extent already.

  • If bounds on appropriate intelligence activities are emplaced, the consumer community needs to know clearly what are, and what are not, areas in which they may request Intelligence Community assistance. If consumer agencies need analytic help in areas of low intelligence priority, they need to be told to allocate resources in-house, find replacement non-government advisors, or make plans to do without.

  • The Commission and the Congress should resist the temptation to micro-manage resource allocations by "targeting" specific issues, countries, or functions. This may be fun, but it will detract from a full plate of more pressing issues. Moreover, it is likely to be useless because amateur intelligence advisors of the PFIAB or the Congress have no crystal balls either. Naming specific targets may even counterproductive if limits are very narrowly placed on intelligence as a result of vain Congressional or presidential overconfidence in some detailed vision of this complicated, ever evolving world.

    The Commission and Congress should also avoid concentrating on "threats." Protecting and furthering U.S. interests depends on monitoring "situations" and opportunities as well as threats narrowly defined in military terms. Threats are latent or real, depending on intent as well as capabilities. Evaluation of intent is almost always complex. Moreover, threats can change rapidly, and the relative strengths of potential threats can change considerably over time. There also are many international issues the United States needs to monitor, regardless of whether they become threats or opportunities to exploit; tracking these can give policymakers time to head off latent threats before they develop into actual ones.

    Intelligence must be able to focus on the currently innocuous in order to be able to identify the future threat or opportunity. This inevitably will result in devoting resources to following some issues that never make it to senior policymakers' front burner. Thus, guidance should be more comprehensive in scope but less restrictive in specific directive than the prescription of SSCI ranking minority member Senator Bob Kerrey:

    We [of the Congress] should do the work of describing the threats and prioritizing the threats. (14)

    Moreover, there simply is very little reason to think the Congress can do a better job of identifying threats than the Executive Branch of government, including the State and Defense Departments and the intelligence agencies.

    Consumers of Intelligence

    Any intelligence function must make at least implicit decisions about who its main (or most important) consumers are. In recent years this, too, has not been well done. CIA, in particular, has sought to rationalize its existence by expanding its list of consumers and currying favor with new constituencies in the face of growing criticism. Yet it has no clear priority scheme. Consumers too often do not understand or accept that they are not CIA's only customers and they do not understand that the Agency's products were not designed specifically for them--generating much of the criticism that intelligence is "useless" or that it was made by a bunch of eggheads who were writing for themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth (15). This expansion of missions and consumers incongruously has come as many uninformed commentators regularly complained that the end of the Cold war has left intelligence without a job to do.

    Instead, Congress and the Commission could perform a valuable service by identifying general issues and specific categories of consumers that are most critical to serve. Should military attack remain a key topic, or should we presume a friendly world that contains no intent hostile toward us? Should the Intelligence Community shift gears to help the Environmental Protection Agency with atmospheric studies or the Centers for Disease Control with work on the spread of AIDS? (16) Should we get involved in industrial espionage--an area the Intelligence Community has resisted? Or, in response to the Clinton Administration's priorities as embodied in its 1995 National Military Strategy document, should intelligence refocus toward serving the information and analytic needs of military forces more likely to be employed in peacekeeping and "nation-building" as part of what the document calls a more activist "strategy of flexible and selective engagement?" (17)

    Should intelligence products be brief and cursory to meet the time-constrained needs of senior policymakers only? Should work be detailed, and thus focused on the staffs of such senior officials, who in turn can spend more time digesting intelligence messages to pass to their principals in position papers and so forth? Should we return to preparing detailed compendiums of data on subjects and societies throughout the world to meet the needs of forces deployed to now unforeseen missions in the complex world of "operations other than war?" Or, more reasonably, what mix is likely to be best?

    Keeping in mind the changing nature of the world and thus intelligence topics and consumers' needs, the emphasis should be on guidance to both producers of intelligence and the consumers who must understand the instructions intelligence has received. Constraints should not be too severe. Decisions of this sort will have organizational, staffing, and budgetary ramifications the Congress should understand before it makes the decisions.

    Time Horizons

    Of critical importance for organization and, especially, resource allocation is a decision about what future period is relevant for the Intelligence Community to consider. Until fairly recently, CIA considered its appropriate time horizon to be fairly long. It was, I believe, generally longer than the focus of either the Defense Intelligence Agency or the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). The Directorate of Intelligence made forecasts in some areas that went out 20 years, and collectors and analysts tried to anticipate events "over the horizon"--situations policymakers did not then know they were likely to be worrying about in the future. CIA did this because it knew that developing information sources and expertise was and is time consuming, and that it could not wait until policymakers expressed interest in subjects to begin to develop them.

    In just the last few years, however, this attitude has changed markedly. For reasons that heavily reflect its changing internal culture, CIA has begun to think much more myopically. It even claims now that it is emphasizing "tactical" projects and largely eliminated "strategic" work. In the DI, these terms are new ones for what formerly were "current intelligence" and "research," respectively (18). The change is major and is formal policy. In August 1994, an Office of European Analysis (EURA) officer told a CIA group that, whereas as 10 years before, 75 percent of EURA's efforts were devoted to "strategic" work and 25 percent to "tactical" issues, all its efforts were then "tactical." Executive Director Leo Hazlewood told an internal group in late 1994 that the change affected both analysis and collection.

    In other words, CIA has given up its former mission of trying to develop the analytic expertise and the information assets to forecast another Pearl Harbor in favor of collecting information to serve the analytic priority of drafting the short, pithy pieces for the National Intelligence Daily (NID) and other current intelligence publications. These are the very publications that many intelligence consumers over the years have compared unfavorably to State/INR's Morning Summary and to good daily newspapers (19).

    This change is enormous--and it is enormously irresponsible. CIA bureaucrats claim it reflects two factors: policymakers' wants for help in putting out the daily fires they are preoccupied with; and, budget constraints that preclude the expenditure of resources to monitor and to anticipate events that may not come to pass. There is some truth to these points, however self-serving they also are (20). The Executive Branch and Congress should know explicitly that the failure to devote resources to long-term collection and to the development and maintenance of analytical expertise risks major surprises--and major intelligence failures--in the future.

    Performance Criteria

    The Commission and the Congress could serve a valuable service by articulating clearly--for both intelligence professionals and consumers--general standards of professional performance. I do not mean another dry reminder that government employees are expected to show up for work on time and cannot take gifts exceeding some dollar value. Rather, I mean performance in at least two general ways.

    Which Paradigm of Service?

    The government as a whole needs a senior-level discussion about the basic standards of service the Intelligence Community is to strive to achieve. An easy but useful shorthand is the question of whether intelligence should focus on the nation's and policymakers' needs, or intelligence officers' perceptions of what policymakers want to see and hear (21). The difference is fundamental. This discussion has long been a part of the debate over the proper relationship and "distance" between policymaker and intelligence outfit. Sherman Kent articulated one major position in 1949 (22). Others, including Roy Godson, also have commented on the issue, but it is not by any means resolved (23). The issue merits another high-level public discussion.

    In the name of providing better service, CIA in the early 1980s began to tailor its analyses--that is, its messages, not topics for study--to provide support for arguments that would help buttress the perceived policy objectives of policymakers and powerful legislators. CIA in this way "politicized" itself. This issue was at the heart of former Director Robert Gates' contentious 1991 DCI confirmation hearings; thirty-one senators voted against Gates despite President George Bush's aggressive lobbying. Many intelligence professionals believe senior CIA officers took this path primarily to curry organizational and personal benefits and that the ideological motive was fairly minor (24).

    But whatever its motive, the result was not only the transient rewards of pandering, but seriously damaged long-term institutional credibility for CIA as a whole. Former Secretary of State George Shultz wrote of a discussion he had in 1987 with then-National Security Advisor Frank Carlucci:

    I told him that I had no confidence in the intelligence community, that I had been misled, lied to, cut out. I felt that CIA analysis was distorted by strong views about policy. (25)

    The issue has not died. Indeed, the situation may be worse than ever. President Clinton and Vice President Gore publicly rebuked intelligence analyses on President Jean-Baptiste Aristide of Haiti in the fall of 1993. Clinton denigrated the testimony of National Intelligence Officer for Latin America Brian Latell before 13 senators on Aristide's past and likely ruling style, saying CIA information is "not always accurate." (26) Gore called the intelligence information on Aristide "uncorroborated," and said the information originated with Aristide's enemies (27). While there is some dispute about the facts of Aristide's past, the message Clinton and Gore passed to the Intelligence Community in the episode was that the White House will publicly repudiate intelligence information it does not want to hear. To win kudos from the White House, so the implicit message went, intelligence people should give its occupants what they want to see and to hear. It was a terrible message to send to intelligence officers already conditioned to be receptive to the perceived wants of consumers about analytic message content.

    DCI James Woolsey took no discernable action to reestablish performance standards, and the Agency has created for its analysts and managers what one disgruntled CIA employee a "political correctness" course to provide analysts with guidance on how to please the Clinton Administration (28). A DI branch chief who took the course disgustedly agreed in June 1995. This perception is but another indication of the level of ethical depravity to which CIA has sunk that cries for radical internal administrative change. It also merits a clear statement of performance standards by the president himself--whether Clinton or a successor--and the Congress.

    There must be a thorough overhaul of the ethics that guide daily conduct at CIA to reflect sound performance standards. These changes must be incorporated into the institutional framework of incentives and individuals' performance standards that may appear to outsiders to have minute effects on day-to-day business. However, these seemingly minor elements have major influences on the overall performance of CIA and the rest of the Intelligence Community. They went seriously awry in the 1980s.

    Congress and the Commission have major roles to play in stipulating clearly that they expect changed performance criteria. Failure to state explicitly such a demand will send a signal that the watchdogs do not understand intelligence or that the ethical system of recent years is acceptable. Either message would be very unfortunate. Senior career CIA officers can continue conduct to business as usual under a number of organizational schemes, but they cannot do so if the president, the DCI or Congress alter their ethical and performance paradigm.

    Standards of Success and "Failure" Intelligence officers, consumers, and the knowledgeable citizenry need to know better what intelligence success means, and to be disabused of some erroneous concepts of "failure." No small part of the disillusionment policymakers have had with intelligence is that they--consumers of intelligence--have inflated and unrealistic expectations of what the Intelligence Community can do. Another is that there is an asymmetry between the large numbers of quiet successes and the relatively few, but often publicly acknowledged, failures. For reasons that remain unclear to me, large numbers of policymakers, members of Congress, and citizens imagine that intelligence should be: omnipresent; always prescient; always accurate; objective but providing data and forecasts that support with their own predispositions but not those of their political opponents; cheap; and, totally respectful of people's rights. These are not realistic expectations.

    This collective naivete helps account for the moderate outrage that accompanied revelations in early 1995 that CIA personnel had dealings with Guatemalan military people implicated in the deaths of an American settler and an insurgent married to an American woman. With no public claims that its personnel directly did anything wrong, CIA has received criticism simply for having dealings with alleged murderers (29). But the world is a violent place filled with nasty people. Were CIA to avoid unsavory characters in favor of contacts only with the Mother Teresas of the world, it would be virtually useless. Yet the Agency lets domestic sensitivities affect its mission performance. Angelo Codevilla recounts how in the mid-1970s, for example, CIA stopped dealing with Middle East terrorist groups lest it be held "responsible" for terrorist attacks (30). How is CIA to stop such attacks unless it knows and deals with potential perpetrators?

    These misguided expectations also lead to less than effective use of the often considerable abilities of intelligence and they encourage behavior that makes intelligence even less useful. Intelligence people put on their trousers one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, and they are hurt by criticism of their failures, especially when the attacks are not warranted. Their natural reaction to criticism is to try to minimize it. They do this in several ways. One particularly common and dysfunctional reaction is to try to please their customers. That means trying to provide what they perceive the customers want.

    In analysis, this has meant "cooking the books" on occasion. More frequently, it has meant waffling on issues--failing to definitively state a position--or publishing two or more positions on complicated issues so that they could claim later that they did indeed make the right call. For example, the head of the staff that prepares the President's Daily Brief stated to other DI people in 1991, as the USSR was crumbling, that it did not matter what happened in Moscow, CIA had forecast all possibilities and thus was "covered." Neither of these tactics is very helpful to policymakers, but they directly stem from insecure intelligence bureaucrats responding to the most extreme demands of the consumer community.

    Note as well the foolishness of such an otherwise bright man to think that noting all possibilities in CIA publications would protect the Agency from criticism that it did not accurately forecast events in the then-turbulent Soviet Union. In fact, in this and other cases, the plethora of conflicting judgments led consumers to believe that CIA did not forecast the fall of the Soviet empire--and had no idea it was on its last legs--when in fact many in the DI were well aware of the problems of the Soviet Union and had been for a long time (31). While the PDB chief was irresponsible, he was responding to the irrational performance standards of thoughtless consumers. And despite the awareness within the DI of the USSR's problems, senior managers apparently did not have the courage to make a firm, clear forecast. They thus deserve the criticism CIA has received on the issue.

    A more subtle example shows how CIA's efforts to satisfy consumers' wants have a way of rebounding to be cause for criticisms of failure. Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt, in discussing the future of U.S. intelligence, wrote:

    In any case, as our failure with respect to the pre-Gulf War Iraqi nuclear program shows, open sources and high-technology means of collection are not sufficient or can themselves be misleading. Despite its massive size, Iraq's program to develop nuclear weapons went largely undetected by American reconnaissance satellites. By using carefully planned denial and deception means, Saddam Hussein was able to keep the United States thoroughly in the dark about the program until after the war, when an Iraqi defector began to provide key data on Iraq's effort to build a bomb. The general capabilities of U.S. reconnaissance satellites, remarkable though they are, are becoming increasingly known in the world; against clever opponents, they can no longer be expected to make up for a lack of reporting as they once did in the case of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. (32)

    Shulsky and Schmitt make some good points, but they confuse to some extent the capabilities of satellites with the targeting of the assets. In 1988, I represented two National Intelligence Officers--NIO for Proliferation David Einsel and NIO for Warning Charlie Allen--in a joint CIA-National Intelligence Council meeting on priorities for targeting one technical collection asset against nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons programs in the Persian Gulf region. The NIOs and elements of CIA, particularly the DI's Office of Scientific and Weapons Research, wanted more resources devoted to NBC collection. In essence, we argued that we were not receiving enough data to adequately monitor the programs, that there were windows of opportunity to best learn of the development of the programs that would close, and that the issue would become more important to consumers in the future.

    Opposing this position was the DI's Office of Near East and South Asian Analysis (NESA), which argued that its consumers were primarily interested in monitoring the daily give-and-take on the Iran-Iraq battle fronts. With the collection resource limited, NESA said priority should continue to go to this mission. NESA's representatives finally lost this battle--which contained elements of bureaucratic turf squabbling, time preference, and honest intellectual differences over the relative importance of the respective issues. Collection priorities did change as a result of this meeting, but NBC collection opportunities were lost during the period the collection resources were devoted to other targets. Now, in retrospect, even knowledgeable commentators like Shulsky and Schmitt do not distinguish targeting from system capability, and thus misjudge a cause of the alleged failure.

    Angelo Codevilla described another targeting reason why such failures occur. In a discussion on U.S. imagery satellites, Codevilla wrote:

    From the late 1960s to the late 1970s ... there was a balance between high resolution (KH-8) and wide-area coverage (in the KH-9). But the decision in the late 1970s to rely solely on a few highly expensive copies of the KH-11 effectively gave up the balancing act. Henceforth, U.S. reconnaissance would monitor with high resolution the roughly 4,000 Soviet strategic targets already known to be interesting, and especially the 2,000 targets useful for arms control. Inevitably, this decision minimized "fishing expeditions," not just over the Soviet Union but over the rest of the world as well--even though the KH-11 itself (if one disregards its price) was better suited for fishing expeditions than its predecessors. But of course the price meant that only one or two would be in orbit and that its capacity would be too precious for fish expeditions. By the end of the 1970s a high-level committee (called COMIREX) would resolve the conflicting request from throughout the U.S. government for the services of only one KH-11 in orbit. Known targets got priority, and searches for targets indicated by other sources came in second. Hunches need not be brought to the table. Constant surveillance had long ceased to be a goal (33).

    Any reform of the organization of intelligence thus should also consider ways to improve the understanding of consumers about intelligence. These misunderstandings are behind part of the criticism of intelligence. The personal desires, biases, and time constraints of the president and members of Congress seem certain to make any proposal for formal training for these key consumers ineffective. Nevertheless, possibilities for improvements, particularly for middle ranking Executive Branch officials who advise senior officials and who can be ordered to attend classes, include:

  • Better briefings on intelligence issues for new senior Executive Branch officers and SSCI and HPSCI members and staff.

  • A standing, regularly taught class on intelligence organizations, capabilities, and limitations. Some Intelligence Community personnel should take the class as well--for their own edification and to provide the context of personal experience for other students.

  • More rotational assignments of consumers to intelligence agencies. This would serve the additional function of better communicating consumer needs to intelligence agencies.

  • Establishment of a liaison office, staffed by people from both intelligence and consumer agencies, which could serve as a clearinghouse for questions and requirements.

    CIA has addressed the issue in part by publishing a handbook on intelligence capabilities and long has conducted periodic surveys of consumer sentiment, wants, and so on. But much more needs to be done to make intelligence more useful.

    Consumers' expectations about the standards of intelligence "success" and "failure" should change in similarly dramatic ways. The consumer community should learn to expect and even to want some intelligence "failures." This may at first seem strange. Certainly we want no more Pearl Harbors. But no intelligence agency properly doing its job in a changing, confusing world will avoid all mis-calls. If they are always "right," the forecasts are likely to be so wishy-washy, or so temporally close to actual occurrence of an event, that they are operationally useless. That is, the warnings will come so late that policymakers can neither act to prevent unfavorable developments through diplomatic or other means, nor take adequate defensive precautions. The PDB chief's tactic for avoiding criticism was to cover all bases; EURA's was to go short-term or "tactical." Both responses sharply reduce the value of intelligence.

    Instead, intelligence should be encouraged to make forecasts that carefully cite degrees of evidence, key premises or assumptions, and analytic confidence. These warnings, plus the qualifiers, can alert senior policymakers to possible developments of importance in a usable context (34). In the case of a "low probability, high impact" event--be it opportunity or threat--policymakers may want to take initial preparatory action even if the likelihood of occurrence of the forecast event is low.

    Consumers should learn as well that some such preparatory actions can actually prevent the forecast event, making the initial forecast look erroneous. Yet it is in just such cases that intelligence arguably is most valuable. It looks "wrong" because it has caused--through carefully marshalled fact, sound analysis, and persuasive powers--the president to act to change the course of events in ways that advanced United States interests or prevented damage to our interests. This phenomenon occurs particularly in warning analysis--a subset of analysis designed to flag the potential development of events of major importance for national interests.

    Presidential willingness to act on tentative intelligence judgments requires good information and analysis combined with White House confidence in the capabilities and integrity of intelligence agencies. It also requires the leaders of intelligence agencies to have confidence in their subordinates and confidence that the president will not blame them for intelligence-based foreign policy initiatives gone awry. It thus requires mutual trust among intelligence producers and consumers that does not now exist. A key objective of the reform debate should be implementation of institutional changes that will foster development of this trust. Note that trust does not spring from altered organizational wire diagrams; it comes from shared aspirations, efforts, and sacrifices--as well as mutual loyalty and the maintenance of unquestioned integrity.

    Organizational Flexibility

    Any reorganizational or reform program should retain a significant degree of flexibility for the Intelligence Comunity. The presence of problems within intelligence agencies is not reason to hobble their ability to act or react through enactment of overbearing external controls.

    Intelligence requirements are in constant flux, reflecting changing policymaker needs and the evolving world situation. Intelligence organizations must therefore maintain sufficient flexibility to be able to respond rapidly and efficiently to the changing intelligence environment. This flexibility should be able to accommodate significant international changes in: political alliances; military threats; opportunities of all sorts; technological change that affects world economic, political, and military balances as well as the abilities of technical intelligence collection systems; Congressional mandates; and, rapid changes in funding levels. Reformers and legislators thus should resist the temptation to define the organizational structure and specific roles of the Intelligence Community too narrowly.

    A few examples demonstrate the point that intelligence long has maintained significant organizational flexibility. At CIA in the 1980s, at least three hybrid "centers" were created to pool operations and analytic personnel to address issues that had and have both collection and analytic aspects; this was done on the basis of sound judgment that collectors and analysts, working together, could better make sense of the information at hand and target collection assets. At the same time, organizational flexibility, response time, and security could be maintained. These centers, usually headed by operations officers, addressed terrorism and counter-terrorism, narcotics, and weapons technology proliferation. A separate organization to support arms control negotiations--known as the Arms Control Intelligence Staff (or ACIS)--was created in the mid-1980s. The Agency also regularly creates "task forces" to handle crises as they develop and maintains special rooms devoted to 24-hour intelligence management; in mid-1994, according to Director Woolsey, task forces on Korea, the Balkans, and Haiti were operational (35). Some of these task forces have done very good work.

    CIA's analytic offices regularly have reallocated resources in response to changing priorities. A Directorate of Intelligence-wide reorganization effective October 1981 shuffled most analysts and created geographically based, or "regional" offices out of the previous organization that had combined major intellectual disciplines--economics, political science, and military analysis, for example--in what were known as functional offices. Remaining world-wide functional issues were housed in the Office of Global Issues, which in 1990 shucked some responsibilities, emphasized some others a little more, and changed its name to the Office of Resources, Trade and Technology to tout its altered priorities.

    Individual offices regularly reorganized as well. Carpenters worked virtually constantly in the decade of the 1980s to tear down internal walls and fashion new spaces for expanded, diminished or moved divisions. Former Office of Soviet Analysis (SOVA) analyst Jennifer Glaudemans told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1991 about her experiences with reorganizations in SOVA:

    From April 1986 until August 1987, I had four different branch chiefs and from April 1985 until August 1987 I had four different division chiefs and I never changed jobs. With few exceptions, each successive reorganization brought in less experienced managers. When I worked on Soviet policy toward the United States from January 1988 until I left [CIA] in November 1989, I also had four different branch chiefs, two division chiefs and two group chiefs. (36)

    Not only were reorganizations numerous, they were arguably ineffective. They certainly did not prevent development of the sharp criticism that SOVA and CIA reaped in the 1990s.

    The Defense Department's intelligence complex has reorganized and shrunk in part to directly reflect the changes in political/military state of the Eurasian landmass. The National Security Agency has reduced the scope of the group that once focused on the USSR. The Defense Intelligence Agency, service, and major commands' intelligence units have also gone through reorganizations and "downsizing" in recent years. All of these were normal reactions to changed intelligence needs and budget allocations.

    We flatter ourselves if we believe we can accurately predict world events two decades hence, and imagine that we can now narrowly tailor organizations to suit our concept of the future. The world is unlikely to cooperate with such naivete. A far better approach is to anticipate likely general patterns and design intelligence organizations to be able to respond to every eventuality we now can contemplate, then give them room to handle still more--while assuring adequate oversight by both the Congress and the White House. This is not a remarkable concept, yet it seems absent in the popular discussion about how to "reinvent" intelligence in the post-Cold War period--as if that event altered the fundamental mission of intelligence.

    History demonstrates amply that organizational flexibility will not by itself ensure good intelligence performance. But it is an essential condition if the agencies are to make the best use possible of their limited resources.


    9. A Canadian professor used the term "mono-culture" to describe all Western intelligence during a conference on intelligence analysis sponsored by the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, Ottawa, October 28-30, 1994.

    10. Robert M. Gates, "Statement on Change in CIA and the Intelligence Community," April 1, 1992, unpublished paper presented to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, p. 33.

    11. George Lardner, Jr., and Walter Pincus, "Congress May Seek Review of All Intelligence Spending," The Washington Post, January 10, 1993, p. A4.

    12. As quoted by Donna Cassata, "Congress ready to assume floundering CIA's role," The Arlington (VA) Journal, January 10, 1995, p. A2.

    13. Henry Kissinger, "Ready for Revitalizing," The Washington Post, March 9, 1995, p. A21.

    14. As quoted by Donna Cassata, "Congress ready to assume floundering CIA's role," The Arlington (VA) Journal, January 10, 1995, p. A2.

    15. Another, similar myth is that analysts love to write highly classified papers. In fact, the opposite is the case because lower classification means a wider distribution of their work. Analysts' primary psychic satisfactions come from knowledge that consumers read, appreciate, and use their analyses. Thus, they strive to keep classification levels as low as possible.

    16. We should be careful about specifying what intelligence support for such work means. I know of no one who proposes duplicating the work of the non-intelligence agencies. But in the AIDS area, for example, CIA could help CDC by acquiring secret figures on rates on infection in countries whose governments are lying about the extent of the disease to avoid scaring off tourists (and their dollars) or precipitating domestic unrest.

    17. Bradley Graham, "Responsibilities of U.S. Military Expanded," The Washington Post, March 9, 1995, p. A36.

    18. Note that the juxtaposition of "tactical" for "current" and "strategic" for "research" represents a novel use of the terms. It reflects, I believe, a lack of understanding of the military's use of the terms. It may be another marketing effort to appear more responsive to Defense Department concerns after General Schwarzkopf's stinging attacks on the performance of CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency during Operation Desert Storm.

    19. Senator Patrick Leahy, former SSCI member, is reported once to have quipped that the only difference between the NID and The New York Times is that the Times has a cross-word puzzle.

    20. Such comments are self-serving because they rationalize expenditure of efforts in those areas that gain the Agency immediate positive feedback from consumers--and which help it rationalize its existence. Over-the-horizon work generates few kudos because it has not yet paid off in terms of warnings or judgments.

    21. See John A. Gentry, Lost Promise: How CIA Analysis Misserves the Nation, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993).

    22. Sherman Kent, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy, (Princeton, NJ; Princeton University Press, 1949).

    23. Roy Godson, ed., Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s (Lexington: Lexington, 1989) p. 6. See also Gentry, Lost Promise, chapter 2, pp. 5-18.

    24. SSCI spokesman Zach Messitte, in a telephone conversation on October 30, 1991, told me some 80 current and former CIA people with analytic backgrounds contacted the SSCI, most in opposition to Gates. See Gentry, Lost Promise, chapter 5, pp. 123-42.

    There is considerable debate about the extent of the ideological aspect of the politicization of DI analysis in the 1980s. Some believe that politicization in SOVA, in particular, was heavily motivated office beliefs similar by President Reagan's and Director Casey's anti-Soviet views. A larger number, I believe, attribute the politicization to efforts by ambitious bureaucrats to curry favor with those senior officials--and who provided messages they expected their readers to appreciate.

    25. George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (New York, NY: MacMillan, 1993) p. 864.

    26. Robert Novak, "Allegations About Aristide," The Washington Post, October 28, 1993.

    27. Kathy Sawyer, "Gore Defends Aristide, Whose Prospects for Return Seem Brighter," The Washington Post, October 25, 1993.

    28. See John McCaslin, "Inside the Beltway," The Washington Times, January 17, 1995, p. A6. My information is that a course entitled something like "Tradecraft 2000" is operational in mid-1995; it evidently is devoted heavily to reading policymakers' wants and satisfying them, while at the same time denigrating traditional research.

    Senior DI managers clearly disagree with such an assessment. DDI Doug MacEachen, in The Tradecraft of Intelligence: Challenge and Change in the CIA (Washington, DC: Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, 1994) argues on page 14 that the course is designed to foster better "'analytic tradecraft' values in the Directorate culture."

    29. Congressional outrage seems also to reflect inaccurate or duplicitous CIA reports to the Congress about what happened. This is another issue. CIA (and especially the Directorate of Operations) recurrently has mishandled its relations with Congress and deserves much criticism in this area.

    30. Angelo Codevilla, Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century, (New York: The Free Press, 1992), pp. 92-93.

    31. Indeed, some analysts and middle managers in SOVA tried to publish papers pointing to mounting Soviet troubles but were rebuffed by senior office managers. Then-SOVA director George Kolt once told his analysts that he was in fact SOVA's senior analyst. Kolt pointedly rejected assessments that differed from his own. His intellectual arrogance is largely, I believe, responsible for the critiques of SOVA's performance in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    32. Abram N. Shulsky and Gary J. Schmitt, "The Future of Intelligence," The National Interest, Winter 1994/95, pp. 65-66.

    33. Angelo Codevilla, Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century, (New York: The Free Press, 1992), pp. 113-14.

    34. Doug MacEachen, incongruously, has coined a new term "lynchpins" to describe this very well known concept of intelligence analysis. See MacEachen, The Tradecraft of Intelligence: Challenge and Change in the CIA (Washington, DC: Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, 1994), pp. 11-13.

    35. R. James Woolsey, "National Security and the Future of the Central Intelligence Agency," speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., July 18, 1994, p. 19.

    36. Jennifer Glaudemans, "Written Statement of Jennifer Lynn Glaudemans for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," September 25, 1991, p. 9.


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