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Thread: Overhauling Intelligence

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Overhauling Intelligence

    20 June Foreign Affiars / Real Clear Politics commentary - Overhauling Intelligence by Mike McConnell.

    ... by the time the Cold War ended, the intelligence establishment that had served Washington so well in the second half of the twentieth century was sorely in need of change. The post-Cold War "peace dividend" led to a reduction of intelligence staffing by 22 percent between fiscal years 1989 and 2001. Only now is staffing getting back to pre-Cold War levels. The National Security Act mandated that information be shared up the chain of command but not horizontally with other agencies. At the time of the act's passing, little thought was given to the need for a national-level intelligence apparatus in Washington that could synthesize information from across the government to inform policymakers and help support real-time tactical decisions. That reality, coupled with practices that led to a "stovepiping" of intelligence, arrested the growth of information sharing, collaboration, and integration -- patterns that still linger.

    All these shortcomings have made the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) and the creation of the post of director of national intelligence (DNI) timely and appropriate but, by themselves, insufficient. Indeed, these measures must be only the beginning of a larger reform. The state-sponsored terrorist groups that threaten the United States are accompanied by an ever larger number of nonstate actors moving at increasing speeds across geographic and organizational boundaries. These new actors blur the traditional distinctions between foreign and domestic, intelligence-related and operational, strategic and tactical. To respond, Washington must forge a collaborative approach to intelligence that increases the agility of individual agencies and facilitates the effective coordination and integration of their work...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    20 June Foreign Affiars / Real Clear Politics commentary - Overhauling Intelligence by Mike McConnell.
    Considering that McConnell was a Sr. VP of Booz Allen, one of the primary contractors in the outsourcing of intelligence, and considering that many in the IC believe the position of DNI is not only un-necessary, but counter-productive, I'm a little concerned about how committed he is to actual intelligence reform.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I've long contended that Robert S. McNamara

    was either the most brilliant person in the world or the USSRs best mole. Tending toward the latter...

    I'm now convinced that the unnamed person on the Committee who pushed for a DNI is the current Great Mole.

    (Which begs the question of why we attempt to operate and govern by Committee, Commission and Special counsel -- surely it cannot be to evade responsibility???)

    Bureaucrats to the left of me, bureaucrats to the right of me...

    Pogo was right, we have met the enemy and he is indeed us.

    To the point; prepare for a DNI power grab and a major turf battle inside and near the Beltway that will make La Affaire Plame look tame.

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    Default On the other hand

    We also know what doesn't work -- the DCI concept. Making the boss of one agency the nominal boss of the entire community just wasn't a good idea. One DCI after another proved incapable of providing objective leadership to the entire community. Not because they were jerks, but because the system sucked. If the IC doesn't get it right this time, congress will provide more assistance. So let's figure it out on our own.

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    It's been going on for awhile. The CIA is fighting for it's life, between this new level of bureaucracy (the Office of the DNI) and Rumsfeld's creation in 2005 of the Pentagon's Strategic Support Branch, on top of examining it's own pre-9/11 mistakes. No wonder that 70% of the current intelligence budget (for all agencies) is spent on contracts.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Of course you're both correct.

    Competition is the answer. If Langley, BIR and DIA were reasonably funded and worked their proper beats and if NSA, NRO and NGIA were tasked to support all of them (and the uniformed services without filtering by DIA...) and the NSC was the refereee with clout, life would be better for everyone. Regrettably, our bureaucratic elephant -- and Congress -- won't tolerate that. Too many pet rocks out there. So we're stuck with a DCI for a while at least. We'll see how it pans out. I'm not overly hopeful but McConnell or his successor(s) may surprise me and I 'd be more than happy if that occurs (provided I'm around long enough to see it ).

    Truman certainly erred in allowing the dysfunctional DCI setup; can't change it now. Same note, Bush erred on rolling over on the DHS setup -- we're stuck with that and the FBI having the counter espionage and counter terror functions as well.

    No one ever said we can't do dumb stuff...

    The good news is that a lot of people bust their tails to make it work in spite of the flawed design so I'm not despondent or even angry, just mildly irked.
    Last edited by Ken White; 06-20-2007 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Typo, BIR for BIA.

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    Default A Dearth of Fresh Ideas

    Threats Watch, 16 Jan 08: Money & Technology Will Not Save Us: Clear, Original Thinking Will
    From a security and intelligence perspective, the new year in the long war has started out like previous years. Faced with serious and often overwhelming problems, the government proposes several solutions aimed at improving our security that are almost certain to fail to achieve that objective.

    The FBI for example, would like to build a giant biometrics database to help identify terrorists and other evil doers. Additionally, the Director of National Intelligence is about to argue that the intelligence community should gain access to all Internet traffic transiting the US.

    Neither of these proposals, or their previously floated predecessors, is earth shattering in originality and there is a good reason to question their ultimate effectiveness. The government’s general approach to any sufficiently challenging problem is to throw money and technology at it, as if what is accounted for in a quantitative sense will overcome very real qualitative problems. It apparently goes unrecognized that by trawling through impossibly large amounts of data we will net innocents along with bad guys. Or that searching for original thought for its sake alone results in ventures likely to fail at both their stated objective and in the advancement of thought on these matters.....

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    In the development of software there is a paper on the "silver bullet". There is no such thing, and the fact (sic) can be applied to other areas of technology. Technology is a tool, the will, the knowledge, the ability, the scarce resource of creativity, the desire to utilize a tool must be in place before that tool has an effect.

    Massive listening programs have zero positive effect unless they are informed by forethought and consideration of specific scenarios. The volume of data as the article so elloquently states is so substantial that unless you know where to look you will never find it or only when trying to determine "what" happened much like 9/11.

    Creativity is not an excuse for gross abuse of constiututional rights, and thinking outside the box should not suddenly be expanded to a wholesale expansion of contractor activities. Recently I have been reading about the Wobblis and the Pinkerton agents hired to do what the government was restricted from doing. I'm hoping companies like Blackwater are not the new version of Pinkerton agents.

    As the article states people are creative and unless we are dealing with the indigenous populations we have little to see but the reaction to events in the future.
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    Default Assessing the Tradecraft of Intelligence Analysis

    RAND, 27 Feb 08: Assessing the Tradecraft of Intelligence Analysis
    Most public discussions of intelligence address operations—the work of spymasters and covert operators. Current times, in the wake of September 11th and the intelligence failure in the runup to the war in Iraq, are different. Intelligence analysis has become the subject. The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission was direct, and damning, about intelligence analysis before the Iraq war: “This failure was in large part the result of analytical shortcomings; intelligence analysts were too wedded to their assumptions about Saddam’s intentions.” To be sure, in the Iraq case, what the United States did or did not collect, and how reliable its sources were, were also at issue. And the focus of post mortems on pre-September 11th was, properly, mainly on relations between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and on the way the FBI did its work. But in both cases, analysis was also central. How do the various agencies perform the tradecraft of intelligence analysis, not just of spying or operations? How is that task different now, in the world of terrorism, especially Islamic Jihadist terrorism, than in the older world of the Cold War and the Soviet Union?

    The difference is dramatic and that difference is the theme of this report. The United States Government asked RAND to interview analysts at the agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community and ask about the current state of analysis. How do those analytic agencies think of their task? In particular, what initiatives are they taking to build capacity, and what are the implicit challenges on which those initiatives are based? Our charter was broad enough to allow us to include speculations about the future of analysis, and this report includes those speculations. This report is a work in progress because many issues—the state of tradecraft and of training and the use of technology and formal methods—cry out for further study. This report was long delayed in the clearance process. It has been updated and remains a useful baseline in assessing progress as the Intelligence Community confronts the enormous challenges it faces.....
    Complete 76 page report at the link.

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    Council Member CSC2005's Avatar
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    Default They talked to alot of people, but nothing groundbreaking

    This report is one of hundreds that have come out since 9/11 on how to fix analysis. I am sure this report was well funded, and the researchers did their homework and talked to alot of people. The most important issue was that analysis do not need lots of new tools or technology. A new system is not the silver bullet. Only through long term investment in people will analysis improve.

    The rest of the report just repeats what all of the other reports have said. The authors seemed to only have a very basic knowledge of the IC

    Quantico, VA

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSC2005 View Post
    This report is one of hundreds that have come out since 9/11 on how to fix analysis. I am sure this report was well funded, and the researchers did their homework and talked to alot of people. The most important issue was that analysis do not need lots of new tools or technology. A new system is not the silver bullet. Only through long term investment in people will analysis improve.

    The rest of the report just repeats what all of the other reports have said. The authors seemed to only have a very basic knowledge of the IC

    Quantico, VA
    Agreed 110%. I also noted that they offer no insight into their own record as analysts. This strikes as the RAND equivalent of hiring Tom Clancy to speak to the CIA on intelligence.

    I second the point on investing in people if you want better analysis. And that does not mean investing by promoting MANAGERS of the analytical effort. It means preserving and promoting in stasis the actual analysts versus the ever increasing levels of bureacracy above the analysts.

    I would add to that the best analysis is based on an anaytical body grounded in the operations of its field. For military it means being out there on the ground as an operator as well as being an analyst. For other agencies the same mechanism must apply. All of that means that the eternal search for one size fits all training for analysts is a pipe dream.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default New Boss same as the Old Boss

    One DCI after another proved incapable of providing objective leadership to the entire community. Not because they were jerks, but because the system sucked
    Unless you can fire people or zero out budgets, you are not the boss. Perhaps the corollary might be, the more complicated the title, the less power you actually will have ( "Hey, anybody hear much about the "Drug Czar" or the "War Czar" these days ?).

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
    Unless you can fire people or zero out budgets, you are not the boss. Perhaps the corollary might be, the more complicated the title, the less power you actually will have ( "Hey, anybody hear much about the "Drug Czar" or the "War Czar" these days ?).
    Yes the Czar and his entire family were "disappeared"

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    Default The DCI never was

    So get over it.

    There is/will be any time in the near future no monolithic intel community. Nor should there be. We keep each other honest by our separate lines of operation. The system sucks and can be streamlined, but not amalgamated.
    I have never been an analyst, but when I worked with the anal community, they often spoke of "constructive dissonance" in putting products together. That is, because a bunch of smart guys disagreed, they all worked harder to evaluate their own analysis (or something like that). More sharing and cooperation is great -- think we call it synergy.

    I've heard the personnel and resources call before also. Once again -- great idea that ain't going to happen. "I think that Lt Schmedlap from the Air Intel Center, who wrote such a great report about the Iranian nuclear program ought to move to DIA as a major."

    The current senior leadership, with 2 non-career CIA guys at the top of the intel community is about as honest as we're going to get. The residual problem is still how a coupla techies manage the dirty day-to-day operations of HUMINT.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Toward a Saner Surveillance Strategy

    Threats Watch, 05 March - The ongoing fight over what the US intelligence community is allowed to do under pending revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation has been clouded by suspicion, hyperbole, and a lack of knowledge regarding the intelligence business.

    The Way Forward

    Regardless of the political party in executive power, the need to detect and monitor the communications of our enemies will not abate and neither will the technical and legal problems. Passing a revised FISA law that focuses on people – those who need protecting and detecting - and not a given technology or physical boundaries will help reduce the chances that we will have to fight this battle again in the future.

    Political operatives do not implement intelligence policy: career professionals do. As someone who has conducted foreign intelligence eavesdropping missions, I cannot stress enough just how seriously the privacy of Americans is taken. The government’s career foreign intelligence eavesdroppers would sooner walk off the job en masse than “spy on Americans,” but there is no serious effort to explain just how strongly and how often intelligence officers are cautioned about our duty to our fellow citizens and the law. Clearing what is essentially administrative material for public release could help assuage concerns about the seriousness with which US intelligence agencies handle privacy issues.

    While the protocols in place that are designed to avoid gross violations of the law are generally successful, the reality that mistakes are possible necessitates strong and vigilant oversight capability is essential for the protection of civil rights. The fact that the Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board is effectively defunct and legislative oversight of intelligence in general has not been what it could be needs to be addressed in the pending legislation. Boosting oversight committee staff or allowing the GAO authority to act on behalf of oversight committees would show that the privacy and security are not mutually exclusive goals.

    The long war against terrorism is primarily an intelligence-driven war, and the US needs to equip itself in the best manner possible if it is going to succeed.
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