21 February 2006

Reforming the Intelligence Community

Count me as less than impressed with some parts of the Intelligence Community (IC) in the US.

First the End of the Soviet Union. The CIA cherry picks evidence across many reports and summarizes them to show that they were firmly in-touch with what was going on and even predicted major slowdown and instability. Color me less than impressed with a snippet here and a snippet there and extracts from larger documents. Strangely enough you didn't actually *hear* that sort of thing from the CIA at the time and that really influenced things. Many analyses and reports have been done on this, but, basically, one gets the feel that the 'Kremlinologists' were asleep at the wheel.

And then there is the whole 9/11 Commission report. Say what you will about the grandstanding of various members of it, the actual conclusions look to be valid and point to an endemic problem across the entire IC.

The CIA does not stand alone in the IC (hence it is a 'Community'), but what it is lacking is the first name in its Agency... Central. One would think that a Central Intelligence Agency would be the hub for all National Intelligence and serve as a grand synthesizer and analysis area to give a comprehensive view of the world. What one does not expect is for it to be an agency that is heavily wedded to spooks, spies and nefarious sources of information all on its lonesome. When the Agency was created it was an amalgam of the old OSS enhanced by clandestine operations and follow-up analysis. Somehow, the cachet of being on the clandestine side began to actually drive analysis in and of itself, and started staking out a bureaucratic 'turf' for the CIA. Mind you, this is true of all groups within the IC, each has turf to defend and their own agendas.

So turf-wars, Not-Invented Here syndrome and ignoring or running down non-traditional sources to one's own turf became the normal mode of operations during the Cold War. One could operate a system like that against an antagonist that stuck to the rules of warfare, had a relatively non-dynamic way of approaching the world and was, generally, not looking to turn a major portion of the planet into a wasteland to achieve its means. That sort of opponent was put down with the help of such bureaucracies, but now after that foe is gone, the bureaucracies remain the same. New opponents require a new way of looking at the IC as a *whole* and how Intelligence gets processed.

Individual organizations, such as the DIA, NSA and NGA, along with Departments of State, Justice and Treasury all have individual slices to add to the overall picture. Other Departments have individual branches or functions for economic, agricultural and other Intelligence which is currently not seen as an integrated whole of the IC, but play a critical role in setting context for Intelligence analysis. The CIA, however, has two distinct functions which the Executive branch needs to disambiguate: Clandestine and Covert Operations, and, Intelligence analysis.

To properly better define these functions and eliminate the cross-influence of them, requires that something like the old OSS be formed as a part of the US Special Forces, for doing the work of running spooks, spies and other such in foreign lands. By making such military based, they will fall under the UCMJ and make the Executive directly accountable for them. This will eliminate the awkwardness of a civilian agency, the CIA, from having a para-military arm and clearly define limits for what can and cannot be done in foreign lands as the Legislative branch sets up the UCMJ.

The other function of the CIA, that of Intelligence analysis, needs to be divorced from the *means* of getting Intelligence and concentrate on the actual job of analyzing the full spectrum of Intelligence. This will require a major change in the operations of all governmental groups currently having a part of the IC pie. So this new agency will have to have inroads and associations across the IC and be prepared to help organize and differentiate Intelligence needs via cross-Agency groups. This no longer becomes "Central" Intelligence but "Distributed" Intelligence and takes a direct lead from modern day networked individuals and groups doing ad-hoc Intelligence analysis via Open Source Intelligence (OSI).

This Full-Spectrum Distributed Intelligence analysis organization will have two major components:

  1. A lead group that reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence. This is an inter-organizational arm that helps co-ordinate Intelligence efforts and the need for policy and infrastructure across all groups contributing to the IC. Perforce it is directly accountable for using the Executive foreign policy and CinC goals and ensuring that proper means and methods for their ends are put in place. This will require major support from the NSA for setting IC policy, but also cross-organizational cooperation in running integrated research and development programs and in cross-training personnel. Setting new personnel policy to *reward* non-niche individuals who garner skills in many areas is absolutely necessary in the modern networked world. Without people who can *connect* dots, the dots will remain unconnected no matter how good any individual is within one niche. There will always be *experts* but they will be few and acknowledged within the IC as such.

  2. The main group is the cross-organizational IC Programs groups. This is the group that actually sets up and runs broad policy groupings which identify the needs of any individual program for Intelligence across the board. This group will generate the *requirements* that are passed to the DNI support group. Intelligence *needs* must match up with Executive policy and goals and that correlation is handled by the DNI support group. The Programs group does the hard job of actually *running* cross-organizational programs that allow players from the entire IC to have a role within any individual analysis effort. Everything from OSI to the most secure of Intelligence gathering must be allowable to such efforts if their program leads require it. The program leads, and it is plural, will be chaired by a member from this new organization, but will have members from all IC members that have a role to play. Some efforts will be very targeted, others will be quite broad in scope and there is no set way to handle such things without doing a winnowing and re-sizing from the beginning and periodically for each program.

  3. Finally, there is personnel expertise councils. The IC currently has no means or method for identifying expertise of individuals, categorizing them, validating them or of making a listing of who actually knows what. This grouping is probably the largest gap in the entire IC and without it, there can be no full-spectrum Intelligence analysis.
I propose the name of this organization to be Networked Intelligence Agency. It is currently a three letter acronym not taken for much of anything else *and* correctly describes the role of the Agency as that of properly Networking skills to needs and ensuring those needs match up with policy. Strangely enough, it will not be staffed by current CIA hierarchy as the directives of the NIA, as set out above, do *not* match that of the current CIA. Also, this will require a total re-thinking of the actual *uses* of Intelligence analysis that go beyond any single organization or program and require a high level of cross-talk necessary for a new IC to arise. Overtime individuals will find that moving from DoJ to State to Treasury will make their skills a valuable commodity as they will be able to talk in many frameworks with many connections. Currently this sort of thing is frowned upon because such individuals are seen either as *outsiders* or not *team players*.

Each organization having a slice of the IC pie will be required to set have positions on the boards running the expertise councils. They will set objective standards and means and methods to allow individuals to get trained in and practice work in those areas. This is a critical part of modern Full-Spectrum Analysis and is currently not a part of the IC picture. Each organization will be putting NIA goals and priorities *first* on their agendas and allowing personnel to work in the new networked Intelligence environment. That said each organization will also run traditional, narrow based analyses as they currently do, and pass up all requirements to the DNI so the NIA staff can ensure that any additional help from other organizations is made available and provided. Small group expertise will *always* be a mainstay of the IC, but those groups need not be co-located or even geographically close to operate. Synchronous and Asynchronous work groups are successfully run by such corporations as Boeing, SUN, Microsoft, and all the major oil companies, there is no reason for Intelligence analysis to *ever* rest on a topic.

The upshot of this will be a slow dispersion of individuals from geographically critical areas into more diverse locations that are still *connected* by modern day communications networks. Actual, physical meetings may, in point of fact, never happen unless individuals are close enough to do such face to face collaboration or a topic actually *requires* it. Secured and networked workplaces in smaller cities and towns will allow for a distribution of the IC in ways that will allow it a more continuous mode of operation and give a higher diversity of analysis and viewpoints than can be currently achieved.

To those who want a *dot connecting enabled environment*: it is time to stop complaining, stop passing the buck and talk to your Representative or Senator about it. Do *not* allow Federal agencies to do this for you as they are ill-equipped to do so. Why is education so bad if there is a Federal Agency for it? Why are subsidies and hand outs given to large agri-business from the Department of Agriculture? Why is the IRS *still* not automated? Why did the FBI *fail* in their updating and upgrading of computer systems?

Because bureaucracies are *chained* to outmoded rules and regulations and special interests, each wanting their part of the pie to themselves. THAT must end.

But only if you, the citizen, puts forth an idea or lobbies for the need to be addressed. And continues to do so and be a pest. Do *not* take a 'I will have my staff look into it' as an answer. Tell anyone who hands you that, that you will report daily on the internet or to news organizations until you *get* an answer.

The tools of the modern press are as cheap as a PC and internet connectivity and can be had for free at many libraries.

Or for a cup of coffee at an internet cafe.

Learn this.

This is what the modern opponents of civilization use to their ends.

They forget: this sword has two edges. And they are *not* prepared for the backslash.

No comments: