Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hokey Smoke!

Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader,
--Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

The Roman promoters really did things right.

They needed a show that would clearly excite.

The attendance was sparse so they put on a fight

Threw the Christians to the lions, sold out every night

--Give the People What they Want
, The Kinks

But here, cleverly disguised as a bomb, is a bomb

--The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (1961)

This, too, shall pass

--Jewish folklore


The WaPo's David Ignatius offered a "Fix-It List for The Spies" following a recent Washington conference on how to fix the intel community.

President Bush broke the Central Intelligence Agency's credibility with Rice, Cheney and Rumsfeld's policies, which allowed Defense Department (DoD) agencies and non-intelligence offices to co-opt the functions of the CIA. The agency was buried with Tenet's infamous "slam dunk," the famous end-run to war.

While the agency had failures in the lead-up to war, they occurred due to our leaders' insistence on designer intelligence favoring their predetermined plans. The President, Vice President, DoD, National Security Adviser and Department of State wanted a war, so they produced intel to justify and validate that decision, rubber-stamped by Congress.

Ignatius says the next president, "will see the power of intelligence reporting but should also understand how the CIA has declined as an effective (and secret) arm of the commander in chief."
This is the crux of the intelligence problem.

Both Porter Goss and William Tenet felt that they worked solely for the President -- faulty logic. The CIA doesn't work solely for the President. The CIA works for the U.S. policy makers and taxpaying citizens. We taxpayers can't read their reports but our lawmakers should assuredly read CIA intelligence briefs before voting on issues of war and peace. Briefings to the intelligence oversight committees are not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of a democracy.

What is the value of a vote based upon emotion versus facts, or at least predictive estimates based upon intelligence indicators? The President is not the Decider when it come to declaring war. Congress must be in the intel loop or its powers will be usurped and will osmose into the actions of an imperial President.

Ignatius says the the impending reorganization "should be rationalized." However,
before rationalization a realistic mission for the CIA should be defined. The CIA was the premier civilian intel agency of the U.S. government until it became a subsidiary of the DoD under Hayden's stewardship. But the CIA does not work for the Secretary of Defense.

There needs to be a clear demarcation between civilian and military intelligence functions, as the two are not necessarily the same. A reorganization should address the areas of intersection.

Notably absent from discussions on reorganization is discussion of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counter-intelligence mission. The FBI used to be the tool that protected the homeland from the terror threat. Where does this function reside now, and what is the action agency?

The FBI was and is the best tool to address domestic threats.
The Department of Homeland Security is a redundant make-work project addressing a function that was already adequately addressed. The only FBI deficiency was in the area of resource allocation and interface with state and local law enforcement.

Ignatius reports,

"Art Brown, a longtime CIA case officer in Asia, said that when he finally came in from the cold, he realized that '99 percent of what we were producing overseas, nobody was reading.' That's got to stop."

Intel estimates must be declassified and disseminated to members of Congress. Reports and estimates are useless unless they are read by the key players in our government. Keeping congressmen out of the loop is not democracy.

Washington should learn from what's working in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Out in the field, you can see one intelligence community. The kids operate together -- analysts and collectors, military and civilian," said one former top DNI official. David Kilcullen, an Australian who is a counterinsurgency adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, explained how soldiers and spies who understand tribal cultures are putting al-Qaeda on the run.

But why should Washington learn from what is working in Afghanistan and Iraq? In the long-term, nothing is working. Despite operational successes, winning or losing is not determined by one good capture in a chess game.

What is happening to America while we guard street corners in Kabul and Baghdad?

Military intelligence as it applies to the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) should not determine the reorganization of intelligence assets in the U.S.
Intel is either civilian or defense in orientation, predictive or useless. These are the yardsticks.

Iraq and Afghanistan will come and go. Meanwhile the long-term interests of America are a constant needing to be addressed by the intelligence community. The definition of these interests and the implementation of policy to address and safeguard those interests are the function of intelligence.

Operational in-theatre military actionable intelligence does not equate to predictive national level intelligence. Military nuts and bolts, on-the-ground intel is separate from that required by national command authority. Intel in theatre is tactical; CIA intelligence is strategic -- two different animals.

Our leadership must define the collection requirements and the government must act upon these estimates once the intelligence is interpreted.

We must also remember that intelligence agencies are not action agencies. Strip the paramilitary direct action function from the CIA and put it in DoD where it most appropriately belongs.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah everything I've ever heard about CIA has led me to believe that they have plenty of intelligence from plenty of sources...they just don't have the manpower/womanpower to analyze it all and sort what's actionable from what's just chatter.

This is what sort of makes me think that the government(s) will build artificial intelligence systems long before the private sector. If they have too much information and can't manage it all, AI is the way to go.

Not that I have any idea how an AI would work ;-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Ark, if there is ai then is there also artificial ignorance? jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

ARK our leadership must focus the intell communty by dictating realistic guidelines as to what is essential for collection and analysis. A shotgun effect is not acceptable. jim

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 6:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about sort of a reverse shotgun where all the pellets are sort of sucked up into the barrel?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 7:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's worst than you think if you have time check out Hire a Spy. It's chilling in the fact that they don't have the US interest at heart but what will get the company that they work for more $.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 8:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Ranger, I think this says as much about our national level of geopolitical confusion as the conflation of strategic intelligence with tactical intelligence.

The problem with using the CIA to obtain predictive, geopoltical intel is that first you have to have some sort of idea what you want to do, where you want to go and what sort of country you want to be. Then you can prioritize your intel needs.

But we are bereft of ideas and our "leaders" aren't leading, they're reacting. We've fallen into the typical mode of thought of a decaying empire; our vitality exhausted, we just try and lay our hand over everything we can reach, trying reflexively to prevent "threats" for reaching us. We have no way of seperating the immediate threat to a company in the Panshir Valley from the long-term threat of mortgaging our fiscal security to China and the EU - since we don't know our objective (or define it in unrealistic, short-term, hegemonic ways) we have no way to prioritize these threats. Hence the problem you describe.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the whole idea of a centralized clearing house intelligence service is more than wee bit flawed.

most of the historical coups of intelligence came from lucky, or talented amatuers. very little in the way of honest and actionable information has ever come from CIA, KGB, or any other institutionalized service. simply put, spies don't roll like that.

we used to have great fun needling the spooks in vietnam. one of our favorites only gets better with time, like a fine wine. we would hoist our glasses and propose:

to our gallant counterparts of the central intelligence agency! proudly overthrowing castro for the last twelve years!

when gaius marius needed intelligence on the germans, force structure and plans, he sent sulla, a light skinned blond roman, and a spanish roman officer to infiltrate. they lived and worked with the germans for two years, and slipped back into the roman lines with ample and valuable information.

that's intellegence work. a "service structure" would have doomed that operation. it would have been blown, probably before they had a chance to learn the language.

the pinkertons (lincoln's intelligence service and the forerunners to the oss/cia/ and secret service) did little to inform the union cause. they missed the booth plot forming right under their noses.

the effective oss operations in ww2 were the ones that sent live, human agents into occupied france and italy to help arm and organize resistence. many of those brave souls were captured and died horrible, painful deaths. the structures they helped to create and strengthen became vital military assets.

the organization of the highland tribes in south east asia was also an effective program (but, wait, that was mostly special forces. . .and there was that whole abandoning them to genocide thing at the time of the bug out)

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 11:06:00 AM GMT-5  

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