Although organized intelligence activity developed very slowly in America's first century, it has since grown dramatically in scope and complexity. Expanding U.S. security concerns prompted the creation of permanent intelligence organizations in the late 1800s, which would grow, albeit unevenly, into the precursor of the modern American intelligence system by World War II. That conflict produced an explosion in intelligence activity, but it was really the advent of the Cold War that created and shaped today's Intelligence Community. The intelligence challenges posed by the Soviet Union and its allies encouraged greater variety in both the technological means of acquiring information and the organizations established to manage them. This trend, combined with the continued importance of intelligence programs serving—and controlled by—specific government departments, produced an intelligence system lacking a strong center, which well before September 11, would lead to calls for major reform.
Evaluations of the U.S. intelligence community commonly are framed in terms of whether or not the community predicted certain types of salient and visible events. This type of scoring of intelligence performance presents a very incomplete and misleading picture of how intelligence contributes to national security. Many intelligence predictions or would-be predictions are inherently self-negating, and, for several reasons, most of them simply have no effect on the national interest. Proper understanding of the role of intelligence must look to functions much broader than prediction.
The nature of intelligence work requires spies to maintain steadfast dedication to the best interests of their country, while carrying out acts of profound deceit and betrayal. In this article, CIA veteran James Olson explores this moral paradox by reviewing the history of intelligence in the United States, and posing a series of realistic scenarios capturing the brutal nature of the war on terror. He concludes by calling for a national dialogue to determine a set of moral guidelines to guide intelligence work.
History is replete with examples of militaries that have used denial and deception to gain victory on the battlefield. Denial withholds accurate information from an adversary, while deception puts forward misleading information that conforms to the expectations of an opponent. Recently, the advent of the information age has allowed small non-state actors, particularly terrorist organizations, to engage in denial and deception—with often devastating results. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adjust, which has allowed terrorist groups to carry out their attacks while hiding in plain sight of their targets.
The role of the Intelligence Community in policymaking is often misunderstood or overlooked when analyzing states' behavior. This article introduces a framework that clarifies the roles of each actor in the relationship between intelligence analysts and policymakers, and how the interactions of the two synthesize to produce actionable policy. There are many obstacles for both parties in reaching valid, fact-based conclusions from intelligence. Understanding these obstacles will allow for greater opportunities to avoid them and produce better, sounder intelligence analysis and policy creation.
Of the many challenges faced by the Department of Homeland Security and its intelligence enterprise, developing a common culture remains one of the most daunting tasks. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB) provides an analytical methodology that could cultivate a common analytical culture in the homeland security intelligence community, which is key to the community's effectiveness in thwarting a terrorist attack against the United States.
Since 1975, members of Congress have displayed four general responses to the call for greater intelligence accountability. Some have taken the approach of 'ostriches,' content to bury their heads in the sand and continue the earlier era of trust, when lawmakers deferred to the decisions of the executive branch within the domains of intelligence and defense. Others, indeed a majority, have chosen to become unabashed boosters for intelligence—'cheerleaders' who view their job primarily as one of explaining the value of intelligence to the American people and supporting intelligence missions with strong funding and encouragement. Taking the opposite approach, another group of lawmakers, the—'skeptics'—have consistently found fault with America's attempts to spy on adversaries or overthrow regimes that fail to serve U.S. interests. Finally, some members of Congress have been 'guardians,' striking a balance between serving as partners of the intelligence agencies on Capitol Hill, and, through a persistent examination of budgets and operations, demanding competence and law-abiding behavior from these agencies. Ultimately, it is the guardians that should serve as models for the future.
The article examines the report by the CIA's Office of the Inspector General that details CIA accountability regarding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Released amid bitter controversy on August 21, 2007, the report exhibits a flawed methodology that focuses on assigning personal blame and results in a distortion of the facts of events leading up to 9/11. In particular, with the sole purpose of finding fault in the work of individuals at CIA, the report fails to provide an accurate description of the facts leading to the events of 9/11. Due to its focus, the report neglects to take note of organizational factors that caused the broader U.S. national security system to fail in preventing those attacks. Instead of focusing the public's attention on the real causes of the system failure, the article argues that the CIA's Inspector General's report, by portraying an inaccurate description of the facts, serves to mistakenly direct attention away from the necessary effort to reorganize the U.S. national security system and will potentially lead to the wrong reform measures.
This article is based on an interview conducted by the SAIS Review with John O. Brennan, the former interim Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Mr. Brennan had a career of over 25 years with the CIA, serving in a variety of senior positions throughout the Intelligence Community. He is currently President and CEO of The Analysis Corporation.
This article is based on an interview conducted by the SAIS Review on Thursday, October 18, 2007, with a former intelligence officer. He is currently employed with the MASY Group, a Northern Virginia based company that provides operational and risk management consulting services to the public and private sectors.
Since independence, India has faced a variety of insurgencies and political challenges in its Northeast Tribal Areas. Many of the ethnic minority insurgents in the area are also found across the border in Myanmar and have received logistical and material support from Myanmar insurgents. While the Indian government recognizes this connection, it has focused primarily on security issues to the detriment of the political, economic, and cultural grievances in the region. To address these problems, the Indian government should expand its cooperation with Myanmar in anti-corruption, political reform, trade, infrastructure, and cultural initiatives.