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12 October 2010

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Allen Thomson


> Under the old set up. the CIA used their director's second hat as first among equals to suppress the work of the other agencies in the community whenever they had the chance.

I'd be interested in examples that you saw of that happening. From where I sat in the middle ranks of the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence (OWI, OSWR, OSR) 1973-1985, then as a consultant to the NIC until the end of 1996, the interagency process, though often heated, sometimes very heated, seemed genuinely collegial. Of course, what you see depends on where you're looking from, and I can well believe that the view from DIA was considerably different from the one I had.

A thought: there's a bunch of NIEs and such on the CIA web site. Are there examples in those where you would say CIA, via the director's dual hats, suppressed valid opinions from other agencies?

walrus

I cannot speak as an intelligence professional, but I think I now understand a little of how organisational structure influences the intelligence picture.

Lately, I have had the pleasure of reading volume (5?) of the official history of British Intelligence in WWII. This deals with "The Double Cross System" of which much has been written.

The most interesting chapters concern not so much the operations, but exactly why the Germans believed what they did, and the complex interplay of the various German intelligence agencies and commands.

For example, every dummy military unit that was fed to German military intelligence was dutifully placed on the notional Allied order of battle, and over time, and despite easily available physical evidence to the contrary, they were never removed.

The British investigated this, and other matters, in great detail after the war, interrogating their former opponents, and concluded that parts of the German General Staff had an interest in magnifying the Allied threat. This was not about the well known problem of agent handlers increasing their budgets, seeking opportunities for corruption, currying favour or promotion, it was senior German Army staff officers who were taken in.

The final British conclusion was that unconscious self delusion in support of organisational priorities, to the detriment of national priorities, was a much bigger factor then anyone had realised at the time.

Good luck to Clapper in the hall of mirrors.

Patrick Lang

AT

There were many such examples on both the analytic and HUMINT ops sides. some of them are still classified.

A common device on the analytic side was the nearly universal use of CIA analysts as drafters for community papers and the appointment of CIA people as NIOs on a nearly universal basis.

On the HUMINT side I would like a few bucks for every source of mine who was mysteriously "discoverd" to have been of "prior interest" to CIA once we submitted the person to the national source registry (CIA run). Then there were all the operational proposals on which the DO refused to "coordinate" once they were sent to them. Such refusals were always without comment.

I haven't been directly involved for a long time. Perhaps the Peaceable Kingdom has arrives, especially with my departure from the scene.

As you say, what you see depends on where you sit. pl

Highlander

As you say,what you see depends on where you sit.pl


Ain't that the damn truth!

The Twisted Genius

AT,

I second our host's comments about the CIA suppressing the work of Army and, later, DOD HUMINT. Colonel Lang was not the only Army/DOD HUMINTer to have leads and sources taken from him as he described. In the early 90s, the CIA prohibited my team's military case officers from pursuing some very promising military leads. This decision made no operational sense, but it did reserve a lucrative lead pool for CIA use only. Years later, the CIA refused to coordinate a well planned DIA HUMINT proposal without offering any specific explanation. Months later this CIA office published a report consisting of the extensive targeting package we provided for coordination… shameful behavior and not at all professional.

To be fair, I have also witnessed many instances of excellent cooperation between CIA and DOD HUMINT. One CIA office openly acknowledged that our operations against one target were far better than theirs. Our cooperation as equal partners enhanced all our operations. Of course, their chief was also an Army reservist. Another major DIA project came into being because another CIA office vigorously championed the project among the rest of the CIA/DO offices. This eventually came full circle when that office came to DIA and asked for advice/assistance in establishing a similar effort. It was a shocking (to me) and refreshing change in attitude

The trend has been toward the Peaceable Kingdom, but we're not there yet. I'm sure the increase in joint CIA/DIA operations in the last decade has increased CIA/DO officers' comfort level with DOD HUMINT officers. However, IMHO the increased horsepower of the USDI and the presence of the ODNI enforces cooperation and honesty. A return to an all powerful DCI would be a giant step backward. As Bonzo's costar once said, "Trust, but verify."

Patrick Lang

TTG

While I share your caution, I hope that my attempts 15 years ago to bring these groups together did some good. pl

William R. Cumming

PL and blog readers. What percentage as a guestimate of all INTEL gathered from HUMINT is open source?
I assume SIGINET and SATINTENT have the lowest percentages redundant with open source but is that assumption correct?
What if an organization was created that only collected and analyzed and dessiminated based on open source materials but in fact was accomplished by fully fluent personnel in languages and cultures of the world? Reading blogs, newspapaers, journals, mags, etc. What would that cost the US and would such an investment be a waste of time or have some calibrating impact on the organizations that classify their collection activities? In other words the latter would have to have documented that there info came from other than open source materials. Probably a defective suggestion but would be of help to have explained exactly why? And of course battlefield INTEL IMO should always be indiginous to the military forces but is that also a defective assumption of mine?
Finally would it be of value if the INTEL community post attack was given access to the reasoning behind each Predator attack or mission? In other words exactly who does the post-mortem so to speak on each Predator attack and what could be learned from such Post-Mortem?

Pan

@Allen Thompson - Most of the NIOs I knew were from the CIA, and many favored CIA analysis over that of the other members of the ICs. I worked on a few pretty well known NIEs where CIA got the lions share of the critical drafting responsibilities and forced dissenting opinions from other agencies to footnotes or "boxes." Those of course never made it into the Key Judgments which we all know the pols only read.

Allen Thomson

TTG, PL:

Thanks for your comments. My experience with interagency interaction was on the analytical side (DI), so I can't really speak to what was going on with respect to the DO. (Other than to note that dealing with DO/SE/RR was a source of continuing and fairly deep frustration for CIA analysts.)

The Twisted Genius

PL,

Although some of us in the Army felt we were shanghaied 15 years ago, your efforts definitely started us down the road of greater cooperation. This evolution was needed and is now greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Patrick Lang

TTG

"we were shanghaied 15 years ago"

By me into DH? pl

Patrick Lang

WRC

IMO, "open source research," although an invaluable component of analysis is not HUMINT. pl

The Twisted Genius

PL,

Yes, we were shanghaied by you into DH. For those of us with nothing but field experience in small detachments, the shock of having to work as desk officers in cubicles in the National Capital area was profound. Most of us adapted, learned a lot and quickly began plotting our return to the field.

DH is still evolving, having gone through numerous reorganizations in the last 15 years. Its most recent "transmogrification" is returning it to, what I believe to be, the original DH concept of your day. You were ahead of your time.

Adam L Silverman

Sir: you and the rest of SST may find hid interviewm conducted by Professor Horton, interesting in light of the disussion in this thread:
http://harpers.org/archive/2010/10/hbc-90007598

Patrick Lang

TTG

Well, someone had to manage. you would have preferred someone with no field experience?

"the original DH concept of your day. You were ahead of your time."

So I learned.

Adam L Silverman

Mr Cumming: I have some thoughts on your question, as the open source (primary and secondary) research and analysis is my schtick. I have a due out for Friday which I've been working on, but I promise to make time over the weekend to try to provide you something of a satisfying answer. I apologize for the delay, but I'm just taking a break from working on it...

Pan

WRC - IC open source analysis like you describe is done by the DNI's Open Source Center (formerly the FBIS).

William R. Cumming

Thanks for all the comments and understand PL's comment which is helpful and which I agree with.
My points were directed in part to identification of source material and if those doing open source did not have access to classified materials and the converse also true perhaps it would be easier to understand then the blended material in NIEs and other analysis. In other words if capability not motivation is the end game for INTEL then perhaps it would be better to have a clearer statement as to what was regarded as accurate based on open sources and what was accurate based on classified sources. Or perhaps all INTEL should include the following disclaimer: ITems listed below have been verified by ? Items listed below have not been verified!

Patrick Lang

WRC

You don't understand the analytic process. Estimates are made on the basis of fused information of all levels of classification or the lack of it. Analysts make judgments as to the validity of information. That is their function. They are not there to catalog information for the consumers to make judgment about. pl

William R. Cumming

Agree with your comment PL and understand your point of view. My questions are based on what explanation is given to non-INTELL types for which the information is intended on the blending process. So the validity of infor is always the lowest common denominator?

Patrick Lang

WRC

You sound like a neocom in this. They, too, disputed the ability of the analysts to judge the validity of the information. pl

Pan

Analytical products always have at the end their list of sources for the finished product. Everything in a product can be traced to sources.

Patrick Lang

pan

Of course, but that does not obscure my essential point which is that if WRC's apparent opinion that consumers should be the analysts and analysts should be clerks. pl

walrus

WRC:

"Agree with your comment PL and understand your point of view. My questions are based on what explanation is given to non-INTELL types for which the information is intended on the blending process. So the validity of infor is always the lowest common denominator?"

The previous system was apparently gamed to provide justification for the Iraq war.

There is also the need to make distinctions between reliability and accuracy of information that no mere "consumer" can possibly perform. Leave it to the analysts.

William R. Cumming

What does the term "actionable intelligence' mean?

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