IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century Executive Summary
The purpose of this study is to present ideas about the future
roles, organization, and management of a clandestine service as they were developed by the Study Group in the course of its "Intelligence Community in the 21st Century" (IC21) study. The body of the paper consists of explications of twelve principal "findings" concerning this clandestine service. Some of these findings represent radical departures from the status quo. Others simply reaffirm and revalidate existing arrangements that have been under question.
While this study stands on its own, its observations and
conclusions are compatible with the other IC21 studies. Moreover, when looked at in the context of the Committee's examination of the Intelligence Community (IC) as a whole, the following findings and recommendations have been extracted from this study for inclusion in legislative proposals to reorganize and better direct the IC in the future:
The U.S. requires a clandestine service of the highest professional standards and competence. Clandestine collection must be focused principally on select, high priority national and military requirements. Yet, it is necessary to have at least a minimal clandestine presence in most countries (a "global presence") so as to maintain a broader base-line contingency capability and to respond to transnational collection requirements. Clandestine operations require an extraordinarily high level of management attention, expertise and coordination.
There should be a single US clandestine service (the "Clandestine Service,") under the Director of Central Intelligence's (DCI) direct supervision. For intelligence collection tasking and requirements purposes, the Clandestine Service should respond to the regular community-wide collection management process. The Clandestine Service should be managed by a Director who is a career intelligence professional. The Clandestine Service should have a two-star professional military intelligence officer as a Deputy Director responsible for support to the military and for coordination, as appropriate, with the military services, regional commanders and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Clandestine Service should have organic to it the administrative and technical support mechanisms that are critical to its unique functions and essential to its success. The personnel system should ensure the recruitment of highly qualified junior employees, the development of talented clandestine operators and managers, and the aggressive removal of marginal and unsuitable employees. The military cadre of the Clandestine Service should consist of military clandestine operations officers having a viable military career track within that specialization and of the same high professional and personal qualifications as the civilian cadre. The DCI needs to reaffirm and reiterate throughout the IC, his designation of the Clandestine Service's role to lead the IC in its conduct of foreign clandestine operations, i.e., espionage, counterespionage, covert action and related intelligence liaison activities abroad. The Clandestine Service Chief of Station should act as the US government's on-site focal point for the deconfliction of all intelligence and law enforcement activities abroad with an appeals process functioning through the Ambassador and/or a Washington-based interagency mechanism. There are numerous other findings and recommendations within
this study that will be pursued by the Committee in other ways, particularly through the annual authorization and regular intelligence oversight process.
Definition of Terms: "HUMINT" and "Clandestine Service"
The terms employed in this study reflect some of its findings.
The most important example of this is the use of the terms "HUMINT" and "clandestine service." Originally, the Study Group had characterized this part of the IC21 study as being about HUMINT. The term is, however, a particularly ambiguous one, the use of which frequently masks if not perpetuates intellectual sloppiness. Properly speaking, HUMINT refers to a category of intelligence, that which is reported by a government information collector who has obtained it either directly or indirectly from a human source./1/ As such, the term hardly begins to encompass the subject under consideration: the proper mission, management and organization of the entity or entities responsible for foreign clandestine intelligence operations (i.e., espionage, counterespionage, covert action and related foreign liaison activities). Such an entity is a "clandestine service."
A clandestine service does much more than simply collect
"HUMINT" clandestinely, that is secretly exploit agents for the purpose of collecting intelligence. A clandestine service also works in liaison with other spy services to run all types of operations; it taps telephones and installs listening devices; it breaks into or otherwise gains access to the contents of secured facilities, safes, and computers; it steals, compromises, and influences foreign cryptographic capabilities so as to make them exploitable by US SIGINT; it protects its operations and defends the government from other intelligence services by engaging in a variety of counterespionage activities, including the aggressive use of double agents and penetrations of foreign services; and it clandestinely emplaces and services secret SIGINT and MASINT sensors. It also has the capability of using its techniques and access to run programs at the President's direction to influence foreign governments and developments, that is, "covert action."/2/ The unifying aspect of these activities is not some connection to HUMINT; rather, they are highly diverse but interdependent activities that are best conducted by a clandestine service. The terms "HUMINT service" and "clandestine service" can be used interchangeably only in ignorance or with a willful disregard for the actual meaning of the words.
A final note on the use of the term "clandestine service."
When referring specifically to an existing clandestine service, such as the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) or the clandestine element of the DoD's Defense HUMINT Service (DHS), this is done so by name. In discussing an ideal or future organization performing those missions, we have used the term "Clandestine Service" or CS as a proper noun.
Background: Clandestine Operations and a Clandestine Service -- How Important Are They? Do We Need Them? Will We Need Them?
There is no more beleaguered element of the Intelligence
Community than the clandestine service -- the organization currently known as the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO)./3/ It has been the subject of ceaseless critical scrutiny and even vilification from the press and more than occasionally from Congress since the Congressional hearings of 1975 and most recently since the arrest of Aldrich Ames, a DO employee, in February 1994 as a Soviet (and later, Russian) agent.
The tenor of much of the recent reporting is exemplified by a
statement in the U.S. News and World Report that the DO is at the center of a system of "incompetence, corruption, cover-ups, and ... failures."/4/ In Congress, there has been no reluctance on the part of some to make public accusations of DO malfeasance, ineptitude and even illegality. Recent examples are false charges of DO involvement with assassinations in Guatemala and of costing taxpayers billions of dollars by passing on Soviet/Russian disinformation that was used to justify supposedly unnecessary US defense programs. The political and editorial mood is such that charges of this sort, although they frequently prove to be overstated if not outright wrong, find immediate acceptance and make the public even more receptive to subsequent further "revelations." It would appear that the the current DCI, John Deutch, has been, at least to some degree, influenced by these stories and allegations, since he has publicly lamented the DO's "tremendous deficiencies" and reportedly put on his daily calendar a standing objective of "reinventing the DO."
Ironically, however, the DO of the last few years appears to
be at least as and possibly more successful than it ever has been. It has made significant advances in penetrating the great majority of hard target countries and a wide variety of terrorist and proliferation organizations. It has dramatically redefined and focused its activities on high-priority national intelligence issues. Its Office of Military Affairs, under an Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for Military Affairs (ADDO/MA) (created after Desert Storm had shown weakness in support to the military), received strong kudos from its military customers. In response to a perceived need to tighten up its bureaucracy, the DO has also dramatically reduced personnel (to the point that it is two years ahead of its Congressionally-mandated goals), closed down a sizable fraction of its stations and bases in the last four years, and drastically cut back on the number of personnel in the field. It has opened up some of its operations and brought in outside experts at an unprecedented level to the point that seniors from the Directorate of Intelligence, FBI, the military and DoD civilian organizations serve in positions up to and including the division chief level.
These positive assertions -- standing in such stark contrast
with the negative general assessment that recent accusations have fed -- are sustained by what little objective data there is available to assess the relative value of the DO's product. The Committee is aware of three studies attempting to develop hard data on the utility of the intelligence produced by the intelligence disciplines: the Strategic Intelligence Review (SIR) process of 1994, a survey of National Intelligence Daily (NID) citations, and the 1995 Comprehensive Capabilities Review undertaken by the Community Management Staff.
The twelve SIRs prepared at the DCI's request and under the
auspices of the National Intelligence Council in May 1994, identified 376 intelligence "needs" and rated the value of the contribution of the various intelligence disciplines (HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, and open source) in meeting those needs. An example of such a need is "International terrorist organization X's plans to attack US persons, facilities, and interests." In aggregate, the SIRs clearly identify HUMINT as the most important source of intelligence for the subjects treated./5/ Specifically, HUMINT was judged to make a "critical" contribution towards 205 of the 376 intelligence needs identified. That is more than half again as much as the next greatest contributor (SIGINT) and more than twice that of the third (open source).
Within several important specific subject areas, HUMINT's
contribution is particularly strong, such as in reporting on the transnational issues that are now among the highest priorities of the IC: terrorism, narcotics, proliferation, and international economics. In providing information on terrorism, HUMINT garnered the grade "of critical value" almost 75 percent of the time it was given. In narcotics, HUMINT was graded critical more than the other intelligence disciplines put together. In collecting critical intelligence on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, HUMINT's contribution was over 40 percent. Finally, in international economics, its contribution was over one third. Similarly, in several more traditional areas of foreign political intelligence and regional developments, HUMINT was rated the most important source for covering the Near East, South Asia, Europe, and Africa. In summary, it would appear to be safe to conclude from the Reviews that what they term as HUMINT is unsurpassed as a source of critical intelligence to the national policymaker./6/
Another effort at objectively assessing the usefulness of
intelligence coming from the various collection disciplines is a study that was done of the intelligence sources used in the preparation of the NID for January 1993. Not surprisingly, open source and Department of State reporting were the most frequently cited sources of information. They were followed by the various types of intelligence reporting in the following order: DO reporting, SIGINT, imagery, and Defense Attach‚ reporting. By issue, the DO was the most important intelligence source in the areas of weapons proliferation, economic security, Europe, Africa, Latin America, terrorism, counternarcotics, and Somalia. Although this is, of itself, a good reflection of the value of the DO's product, it does not capture it all, since the NID does not typically reference much of the DO's best reporting that is disseminated only within highly restrictive "blue border" compartments.
Finally, in late 1995 the DCI's Community Management Staff
(CMS) prepared a Comprehensive Capabilities Review that is probably the best effort yet at objectively assessing the collection capabilities of the various parts of the intelligence community. In this case, the CMS worked from the specific intelligence issues as categorized and prioritized by Presidential Decision Directive outlining intelligence priorities. In this review, too, clandestine operations elements had a strong showing. In the crisis capability category, the clandestine HUMINT collection capabilities were rated as being of approximately the same value as SIGINT. Against the category of transnational issues, the DO's capabilities were unquestionably the strongest in the intelligence community, being half again those assessed as belonging to SIGINT. Against "rogue" states and other top priority target countries, the DO played a secondary role to SIGINT. It is worth noting that in this review the assessment of the DO's production was only of its "HUMINT" reporting and did not include the reporting that results from the DO's clandestine technical operations.
The demonstrable value of CS reporting and its more than
respectable showing in relation to other types of intelligence is further highlighted by its relative low-cost, except in comparison with open source collection: at a single digit percentage of the National Foreign Intelligence Program budget, clandestine operations cost a small fraction of what is spent on IMINT and an even smaller fraction of what is spent on SIGINT. This is not always understood and, in particular, is lost on the public. Even Roger Hilsman, a former intelligence officer, referred in a recent Foreign Affairs to the "enormous cost of fielding secret agents."/7/ The fact is that US espionage under even the most sanguine projections has little prospect of ever costing more than a fraction of what is spent on technical intelligence collection programs.
Even if we accept the current value of a CS and its relatively
low cost, the IC21 study, of which this is part, is looking to the future. For that reason we must ask whether it will also be useful in the future. Although it is difficult to foresee the geopolitical situation of ten or fifteen years from now, there are several characteristics of good clandestine operations that point to their probably being particularly well-suited to meet many post-Cold War national intelligence requirements. Although the details are much debated, the IC, the executive branch, and Congress are all in basic agreement that the most important intelligence requirements will fall in the following categories: the transnational issues of terrorism, narcotics, weapons proliferation, and economic competitiveness; hostile states; strategic threats; support to the military; and "hot spots." Six points are worth making here about how a good clandestine service can be of particular value in satisfying such requirements.
First, transnational issues involve the linkage of individual
players around the globe operating in secret cooperation if not alliance. These are notoriously difficult targets for intelligence. But experience has shown that there are often weak links in such organizations and good clandestine operators are ingenious at locating and exploiting them. Thus, of all the intelligence collection techniques, clandestine operations have a comparative advantage in collecting on most transnational issues. The Strategic Intelligence Reviews of 1994 and the Comprehensive Capabilities Review of 1995 have amply documented this strength. Moreover, there is no reason to suspect the clandestine operator's capabilities will be less successful against these targets in the future. This judgment assumes that the clandestine service is not forced, for political reasons, to limit its ability to recruit and run agents inside the frequently unsavory circles and governments in which terrorist, narco-traffickers, proliferators and criminal elements operate.
Second, so long as there are humans at the controls of foreign
governments making decisions in secret affecting our national security, clandestine operations will be important and effective in ferreting out the secrets. There is, of course, the intelligence truism that espionage is uniquely well-suited among the intelligence disciplines to discover plans, intentions, and deliberations. That opinion is complemented by the less understood, but equally true, argument that only a spy can actively delve for intelligence. Technical intelligence collection requires specific types of action on the part of the target--the visible movement of troops, discussions of plans over accessible communications links, the development of chemical compounds or biological forms that can be detected, and such. A spy, however, can even dig into the hypothetical to satisfy an intelligence consumer, as, for example, when a well placed agent in a foreign government is tasked to ask his leader, "What will we do if the US does x?" Clandestine operations can, in short, shake the intelligence apple from the tree where other intelligence collection techniques must wait for it to fall.
Third, the same global developments that are making
intelligence collection less necessary in some cases -- the opening of previously closed societies, political and economic integration, and increasingly mobile and free populations -- are working to facilitate the clandestine operator's task of getting to the important secrets that do remain.
Fourth, counterintelligence will continue to be a challenge to
the US so long as there are hostile intelligence services, and clandestine counterespionage operations (the running of penetrations of those services) has been and gives every indication of remaining the most important keyhole we will have in detecting hostile intelligence activities. The overwhelming majority of espionage cases opened by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the last thirty years has come from information provided by human penetrations, most of them coming from the DO's large numbers of penetrations of foreign services. Notwithstanding new executive orders and Congressional interest in increasing interagency counterintelligence analysis, analytic successes will be extremely limited without the lead information and raw data originating from clandestine operations.
Fifth, the CS will continue to have tremendous potential to
ensure the success of other intelligence collection disciplines. In particular, the CS will be called upon to continue its support of SIGINT. It is no surprise to those who understand cryptography to learn that most cryptographic systems in use are exploitable only if the codes are in some way compromised. Quite simply, brute computer attacks on codes are usually unsuccessful. Arguably, a clandestine service's greatest contribution to intelligence is the compromising of codes. The proliferation of sophisticated cryptographic systems ensures the growing importance of this role of the CS.
And sixth, the CS's unique ability to develop clandestine
access to foreign facilities and locations will become increasingly crucial to the whole intelligence community, the SIGINT and MASINT disciplines in particular. This Committee has a strong record of supporting clandestine technical operations and, over the last few years, has been greatly encouraged and pleased with the development of those capabilities in the CIA in conjunction with other elements of the IC. The CS will undoubtedly continue to play an increasingly prominent role in helping technical collectors gain access to the media and materials they exploit.
In summary, we believe the importance of clandestine
operations is greater than is usually recognized and that there are strong reasons to believe they will be both successful and appropriate in satisfying intelligence requirements in the future. That said, there remain numerous questions about how to define further what the CS of the future should do, what it should look like, and how it should operate. The "findings" that follow are meant to address some important aspects of those questions.
Finding #1: The Clandestine Service should be small and principally focused on select, high priority requirements to which it can make a unique contribution.
The current Deputy Director of the National Intelligence
Council has advised the Committee that, from every corner, on every issue, we hear the consumers say, 'We need more HUMINT.'" The Committee has heard the same from almost every current and past senior consumer of intelligence it has consulted -- from National Security Advisors, Secretaries of State and Defense, and CINC's. None of them has ever said they wanted or could do with less. In this is recognizable the commonly held belief that human spies can best fulfill the greatest (and most challenging) need of the intelligence consumer, that is, advance knowledge of foreign developments, or, as it is more usually called: plans and intentions.
We share the belief that clandestine operations are frequently
the best means of getting that type of intelligence, but are reluctant to embrace any call for an expanded CS. There is a strong case for better, not necessarily more, HUMINT. The reasons are several. Among them are that clandestine operations:
1) require a management and coordination process that, on a large scale, becomes cumbersome and bureaucratic; 2) require a tight focus for long term planning; 3) must overcome the human tendency of clandestine operators and managers to do that which is easiest rather than most important; and 4) involve an element of risk and potential for embarrassment greater than most intelligence activities. First of all, a large organization running clandestine
operations is prone to intense and byzantine bureaucratization, particularly in its headquarters element. A properly managed CS will be steeply pyramidical in its management structure. Unlike some SIGINT or IMINT activities, in which a first line manager may supervise ten, twenty, or more collectors and producers of intelligence, clandestine operations usually require a case officer/first line manager ratio of no more than three or four to one.
A typical station might have five clandestine operations
officers including the Chief of Station (COS). The most time-consuming responsibility of the COS and his Deputy would usually be the supervision of the three junior officers typically on their first or second assignments. If a station is larger, branches will be formed so that oversight of the operations remains equally intense. At the headquarters, depending upon the sensitivity of the activity, any number of hierarchical levels may get involved with double-checking and, as required, approving the field's operational activities. In its most simple form, the operational chain of command at the headquarters is: a desk chief (usually in charge of a small country), a branch chief (in charge of several small or one large country), a division chief (in charge of a continent or geographic region), and, ultimately, the director of the CS. Deputies to these various levels may or may not also get involved. Additionally, there are functional offices and staffs within the CS that must be consulted according to their charters or when their operational equities are involved.
For example, an operation in a European country to penetrate
a Near-East based terrorist cell may involve: one or more of the desk, branch, and division level offices overseeing European operations; the Counterterrorism Center element responsible for operations around the world meant to penetrate the terrorist organization; desk, branch, or division offices overseeing the Near-East nationality of the terrorist in question; the counterintelligence office double-checking the bona fides of the source; an Office of Technical Services element responsible for providing and servicing covert communications equipment the source might use back in his home country; and the office responsible for providing the case officer with cover for his travels.
Despite innumerable ideas at streamlining this sort of
process, most CS managers have concluded that they are largely unavoidable and that, in a small, focused organization, they actually serve to enhance the security and productivity of operations. Moreover, in a small CS, working only cases that meet a high operational threshold, such a process of double-checks and coordination can work surprisingly quickly and smoothly, usually within a day. Advances in office automation and communications should speed this process even more in the next decade. However, it is easy to see how a CS dealing with large numbers of marginal operations will have to build a large bureaucracy to handle the load, making the whole system sclerotic and unresponsive.
Second, clandestine collection requires long-term planning and
a focus that come best to an organization forced to plan
strategically the allocation of its scarce personnel resources.
Access and capability are two central concerns for all intelligence collection managers. Some technical collection disciplines plan mostly to develop generic capabilities -- an imaging satellite that has a resolution of so many centimeters or a signals processor that can scan and select from some minimum number of channels. These capabilities are to some degree fungible -- sometimes by a simple change in the daily tasking or, somewhat less immediately, by shifting a satellite's orbit from over, say, Iran to North Korea. Clandestine operations managers must concentrate more on building target specific access, a process that, more often than not takes months if not years. Examples are: placing a non-official cover (NOC) officer or recruiting an agent in a company that can plausibly get close to a covert weapons proliferation conduit; finagling a way to get inside a terrorist safehouse to implant listening devices; or buying a house from which to mount a technical collection operation. Since clandestine collection is relatively unresponsive to quick changes in direction, it must keep a tight focus on its long-term objectives. Mistaken or unclear priorities result in an immediate loss of attention to more deserving issues as well as significant, lingering inefficiencies.
Third, some of the characteristics of clandestine operations
work to reinforce the tendency of human nature to direct attention towards that which is most likely to succeed rather than that which, if successful, can yield the greatest benefit. This tendency can be difficult to detect and counter in a large CS since the sheer volume of activity can mask the lack of quality operations.
The raw material of clandestine operations is people. The
challenge to leadership of a CS is in motivating these people to concentrate on the hardest objectives. This challenge is greatly increased by the fact that in the CS great successes are rare and failure is routine. Months of work can go into implanting a listening device in an office of a high-level diplomat from a "rogue" state who is close to his president, only to have him die and be replaced by a nonentity. Weekend after weekend can be spent attempting to win the confidence of an apparently disgruntled hostile intelligence officer, only to find out that he has been "dangled" before the case officer. Case officers can inflict on their families innumerable, inconvenient early morning walks in a park in the vain hope of being able to bump into and strike up a friendship with a targeted code clerk who is known to take his children for walks there on occasion. Frustrations can mount and the desire to succeed or, at least, sense forward motion also becomes more intense. Under such circumstances, the temptation is great to lower sights and work an easier but less important target. If given in to, this results in a system that measures success by the numbers of operations rather than their quality -- a charge that was frequently leveled against the DO, particularly in the 1980's when it was expanding in size. A small CS, under pressure to produce results against the hard targets and constantly forced to make hard choices on how to allocate limited human resources, is less likely to fall for this expedient.
Finally, although clandestine collection is frequently less
expensive than some technical techniques, it tends to be much more politically sensitive. Moreover, with the disappearance of a Soviet or Communist threat, fewer and fewer friendly countries are willing to accept the presence of a free-wheeling US CS as part of the price of being allied with the US. Although this situation may change in the coming years as global dynamics change, there is no denying a complex calculus that must be done as part of the risk/gain analysis that is crucial to the responsible management of any clandestine operation./8/ A small, focused CS is more likely to be careful in its application of this calculus.
Having made these arguments, it is only fair to note that the
DO's current personnel resource plans more than meet the requirement that the CS be small. The degree to which the DO has already drawn down and refocused its personnel resources has gone almost totally unrecognized. Yet, the facts are stunning, even in an IC that is seeing significant continuing reductions in personnel across the board:
Since 1990 the DO has reduced the number of "core HUMINT collectors" by over thirty percent. Since 1992 it has closed large numbers of stations and bases. Large stations have been, on average, reduced in size by over sixty percent. The number of deployed, officially covered case officers has been declining at an average rate of almost ten percent a year for the last several years. In overall personnel strength (including support staff), the DO has already met its Congressionally mandated FY 1998 personnel reduction goals. We believe these changes have been, on balance, healthy for
the DO and, barring significant changes in the international environment, current personnel levels are appropriate for the proper utilization and management of the CS into the next century. Although the CS of the future will be challenged by a growing demand from intelligence consumers for more clandestine collection, the proper response, in most cases, is to strive for better quality reporting and, as necessary, to reprioritize collection to satisfy the most important requirements, rather than to make a net increase in human resources to satisfy the requirements.
Along with the aggressive moves to draw down and redirect
personnel resources, there has been for some time a move towards narrowing the focus of clandestine operations to "operations that count." To do this, personnel resources in the DO have been redirected to increase attention to "hard" targets. There have been several "zero-based" reviews of the inventory of agents to terminate handling of those who do not materially advance efforts to penetrate hard or other high priority targets.
This finding is based on the "supply side" management of CS
personnel resources as the surest way to limit clandestine operations to those operations satisfying truly important requirements uniquely amenable to its techniques. The "demand side," or "requirements" as they are called in the IC, also must be worked. All intelligence collectors are faced with intelligence requirements that massively overload the system. This is a long- standing problem that many collection managers and outside experts have identified as possibly the most persistent and troublesome of all those facing the IC. Fortunately, in the National HUMINT Requirements Tasking Center (NHRTC), set up in 1992 under the direction of the deputy Director for Operations (DDO) in his role as the National HUMINT Collection Manager, clandestine operations undergo the most rigorous, formal requirements vetting process in the community. (See the IC21 Intelligence Requirements Process staff study for further details.) The NHRTC measures requirements by importance and allocates them to the most appropriate, least risky collection mechanism available./9/ The rule of thumb is that clandestine capabilities are to be tasked with a requirement only when these capabilities are uniquely able to satisfy them and the requirement rises to a level justifying the risks that would be entailed. The CS seems to have in place already much of the requirements management process that the CS of the future will need.
Finding #2: The DCI needs to reaffirm and, as necessary, expand upon existing guidelines to ensure the role of the Clandestine Service in leading the Intelligence Community's conduct of foreign clandestine operations, i.e., espionage, counterespionage, covert action and related intelligence liaison activities abroad.
There are two parts to this finding. They build upon existing
DCI and COS authorities.
First, the CS should have direct control of all US foreign
clandestine operations, that is, those that have been defined in DCI Directives as espionage related. Those are, specifically, all intelligence activities "directed towards the acquisition of intelligence through clandestine methods." Clandestine operations are compartmented on a need-to-know basis. It is crucial that someone be cognizant of all operations in a country so as to deconflict, guide, rationalize and validate them. When this centralized oversight breaks down, there can be a needless waste of effort and, more importantly, compromises of operational security.
There are numerous examples that have been cited of the
problems that have resulted when this principle is not understood or accepted by all parties. One US intelligence organization approaches a foreign target not knowing he has already been recruited by another US intelligence organization - or worse, not knowing that he has already been identified as working for a hostile foreign intelligence service. A non-resident US intelligence operative flies into town and meets his clandestine asset in a hotel that the COS knows to be under surveillance and audio monitoring by the host country. A US intelligence organization expends a great deal of effort to meet and recruit a target of apparent interest not knowing that the target's supervisor, an individual whose access far exceeds the target's, is already a US intelligence source. There is no shortage of such examples. There is also reason to be concerned over some of the proposed command and control structures that had been proposed for some of the clandestine operations of DHS. These appeared to have as their objective the circumvention of the COS's cognizance of the details necessary to "conduct and coordinate" liaison as outlined in DCI directives. These concerns have figured to some degree in the development of Finding Twelve of this study, recommending, in effect, a unified CS, jointly managing the operations of the DO and the DHS (which had itself been created to better manage diverse military intelligence operations).
The second part of this finding also revalidates and
reinforces the existing guidelines directing that the local head of the CS, the COS, as the DCI's representative, be responsible for the conduct and coordination of all US government intelligence liaison activities in any way relating to espionage (that is, clandestine collection activities) and counterespionage. The designation of a single authority for the conduct and coordination of such activities makes sense in that it ensures intelligence policies towards a specific country are applied uniformly and minimizes the chance that one US intelligence channel is played off against others. It enables the Ambassador to have a single reliable point of reference for all intelligence activities. Additionally, it minimizes confusion on the part of the host country such as has occurred in some countries where the sudden warming of relations resulted in a rush of uncoordinated US initiatives to establish liaison relationships. The establishment in 1992 of the DCI's Special Representative for Foreign Intelligence Relationships has improved this situation, but there are still too many instances where there is less than total adherence to the current directive.
Finally, the CS of the future, if it is to continue as the
President's main instrument for covert action, must also be responsible for the use of information warfare capabilities in situations other than war. Increasingly, covert action and offensive information warfare techniques are converging. The US government may wish in the future to employ some offensive information warfare capabilities that are principally resident in DoD and outside the CS as part of a covert action. In such cases, the President (through the DCI and CS) and Congress should exercise covert action-type control and oversight of those activities. To this end, the CS must play a more important role in influencing the development of these capabilities and ensuring their applicability to covert action requirements. An executive order to this effect should be promulgated and Congress advised if any legislative assistance is required.
Finding #3: Overseas Coordination of Intelligence and Law Enforcement - The Clandestine Service Chief of Station should act as the US government's on-site focal point for the deconfliction of all intelligence and law enforcement activities abroad with an appeals process functioning through the Chief of Mission and/or a Washington-based interagency mechanism. Also, without prohibiting or preempting law enforcement liaison activities, the Clandestine Service should have the authority to carry out liaison with any foreign intelligence and/or security entity of operational interest or utility.
As a corollary to Finding Two, there must also be a greater
degree of coordination between law enforcement and intelligence overseas. Clandestine intelligence and law enforcement operations can easily run afoul of each other./10/ It is essential that there be a clearly understandable and practical mechanism to make sure this does not happen.
Terrorism, narcotics, weapons proliferation, and international
criminal activities can be of interest to the intelligence or law enforcement communities or both. The techniques of greatest utility overseas also overlap. The CS's two most productive techniques -- unilateral clandestine agent operations and liaison with foreign security and intelligence services -- are also the two that are of greatest utility to the law enforcement community in its overseas activities. What complicates this is each community's penchant for keeping its activities secret from the other. In the case of the IC, it has concerns over protecting sources and methods. Those concerns are heightened by the potential of having those sources and methods exposed if intelligence provided to law enforcement agencies becomes subject to "discovery." Law enforcement agencies, on their part, are anxious not to jeopardize ongoing investigations and violate restrictions on sharing information on such activities as grand jury proceedings.
In practical terms what this can lead to is the CS and law
enforcement agencies working with the same liaison services or clandestine agents (or "informants," as they are called by law enforcement) in an uncoordinated manner and even in ignorance of each other's activities. Most of the pitfalls of this have been outlined in Finding Two. In the case of liaison, the lack of coordination may:
- confuse the liaison service as to who speaks authoritatively on which issues for the US government, - put the liaison service in the advantageous situation of being able to play one US agency against the other, - allow the liaison service to "triangulate" sensitive information by comparing the uncoordinated information it receives from several US agencies, - result in the utilization of the liaison service by one agency in monitoring or even foiling a clandestine operation being run by another, or - any combination of the above. In the case of clandestine operations, there can be confusion
on the part of the agent, reporting that will lead to "false confirmations," and unwitting compromises of security.
There currently exist a number of memoranda of understanding
and informal agreements on how to deconflict these types of activities overseas, and a more comprehensive understanding, particularly applying to the FBI, has been under negotiation for over a year between the DCI and the Department of Justice. The FBI's being granted extraterritorial jurisdiction over some criminal acts outside the US in 1986 and 1988 obscured some of the demarcations between law enforcement and intelligence overseas. The need for a firmer understanding has become more immediate since 1994 with the FBI's increasing the number of Legal Attaches and liaison relationships overseas and its putting out mixed signals regarding its possible intentions to expand its running of "informants" ("agents" in intelligence parlance) overseas without the knowledge of host governments.
Two recent studies, the report of the Commission on the Roles
and Capabilities of the US Intelligence Community (Aspin-Brown Commission) and the Council of Foreign Relations' report of its Independent Task Force on the Future of US Intelligence, have concluded, generally speaking, that the balance of law enforcement activities and intelligence equities overseas has tilted too far in the favor of the former./11/ Moreover, it takes strong exception to the expansion of FBI unilateral clandestine operations overseas, ruling that such activities should not be allowed except in rare circumstances where they are fully coordinated with intelligence officials.
There is merit to the argument that national security
interests must not be sacrificed to further law enforcement objectives. We are reluctant, however, to make any categorical statement about the universal primacy of one over the other overseas. Circumstances will be different in different cases and good judgment will need to prevail. No matter what the policy decision is, there needs to be a clear, well understood, and practical system for deconfliction in the field and at the headquarters level. For a number of reasons,/12/ it is most logical to have the CS COS act as the focal point in identifying potential operational problems and conflicts in the field. In practical terms, this means the COS must be advised in advance of all clandestine operations and liaison initiatives in his country of responsibility. He should be empowered to make the initial determination of how to resolve these problems, with the understanding that his authority in no way extends to being able to direct law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. The COS's decision should be open to appeal to the Chief of Mission (particularly on a policy issue) or a Washington-based interagency mechanism (particularly for operational deconfliction or tradecraft judgments), as appropriate.
For example, the FBI may have a US citizen confidential
informant who is in contact with a foreign relative with terrorist ties and living in the Middle East. Any effort to approach, recruit, or handle that foreign sub-source should be fully coordinated in advance with the COS, who will be able to ascertain this activity does not conflict with any other intelligence or law enforcement activity. Of equal importance, the COS, being knowledgeable of the operational and counterintelligence environment, will be able to advise and even assist the FBI to make sure the case is handled in a way that does not endanger the security of FBI officials, the US citizen, or the foreign national.
This system should also have built into it an understanding
that the COS will not have unauthorized access to statutorily restricted information such as that coming from grand jury deliberations or from criminal wiretaps. Additionally, COS's must be fully trained to understand the limitations that may be placed upon their taking action on law enforcement information that could later endanger its use in criminal proceedings (e.g., "Brady" and "Jencks" concerns regarding discovery).
Also relevant to the interplay between law enforcement
and intelligence overseas is the question of establishing exclusive liaison relationships, that is, having a law enforcement agency or the CS claim exclusive rights to work with a specific foreign security service. In most countries the distinction between intelligence and law enforcement is not as clear as in the US; indeed, they frequently combine the two functions in one or more security services. Accordingly, there may be compelling reasons for the CS and one or more US law enforcement agencies to have official liaison with the same service. Circumstances will dictate which US agency will have the most active liaison relationship.
Even when the overt reason for liaison is not overwhelming, it
is in the US's national interest to allow the CS to maintain liaison with a foreign security service. The reasons are several. Law enforcement agencies deal with foreign entities principally in direct pursuit of specific law enforcement and prosecutorial issues. Cooperation from foreign services can be limited on occasion by the fact that law enforcement agencies, unlike the CS, cannot in most cases promise to handle the information provided under the statutes of classification that are designed to protect intelligence sources and methods. Moreover, the IC has been designed to employ collection techniques not normally available to a legal attach‚ or official law enforcement agency representative overseas. The information/intelligence collection technique most readily available to a law enforcement official overseas is asking questions of a foreign liaison service overtly and on the record. That option is also open to the CS, although the host country usually prefers it not be employed.
Most typically, the CS can collect intelligence from a foreign
liaison counterpart at almost any level of discretion and reasonably promise him that the DCI's unique authorities to protect sources and methods can be applied to make sure the information is not used in a way that can later cause trouble for the foreign country, the foreign security service, or the liaison counterpart himself. Should those assurances be insufficient to get the foreign security service's cooperations, the CS (not being restricted by law enforcement's concern for evidentiary standards) can employ appropriate clandestine techniques. These techniques are among the most productive available to a CS. As an example, in the recent past, the DO worked successfully around and outside established channels in a foreign country to foil a terrorist attack. Hundreds of lives were probably saved. In this case, an official law enforcement to law enforcement agency relationship would probably never have led to the unravelling of the terrorist plotting.
In light of the rapid expansion of law enforcement agencies
into liaison relationships abroad, the executive branch should promulgate an executive order to reflect the above finding and advise the oversight committees of Congress of any need for legislative support.
Finding #4: The Clandestine Service should service validated, high-level military requirements and have the capability in the event of deployment of US forces to surge to support low-level, tactical requirements as appropriate.
The risk/gain calculus and high standards used in vetting
national requirements for clandestine collection (as outlined in Finding One) should be the same for vetting requirements in support of the military. Low-level military requirements do not usually warrant the use of clandestine collection techniques. Generally speaking, if uncovered, the level of political embarrassment for targeting a country's military secrets are likely be at least as high as for targeting its political secrets, since most governments tend to be extraordinarily sensitive to any espionage activities directed against their militaries.
Military clandestine collectors, not being major players in
the national intelligence arena and working mainly for their commanders in their service, have traditionally specialized in low- level types of operations that might be of operational utility in tactical situations. Although this was acceptable in many parts of the world and appropriate during the Cold War, the management of DHS (into which the military collectors have been consolidated) has made initial efforts at upgrading the quality of military operations without abandoning a commitment to support the tactical commander. This represented a major step forward; however, the quality of most DHS assets still appears to fall well below the appropriate threshold. This appears to result, at least in part, from an as yet incomplete understanding or acceptance within the DoD of the limitations and strengths of clandestine operations in supporting the military.
This leads to the question of how clandestine operations can
satisfy the tactical needs of the commander in a deployment in a hostile environment. The proper answer, although it would probably be unsatisfying to most commanders, is that clandestine operations will in many cases be of marginal value and may be inappropriate. Clandestine HUMINT-type operations are usually poor at providing immediate, on-the-ground support, that is, telling a commander what he most wants to know: what is going on over the next sand dune or has a SCUD just been launched?
Military commanders must be better educated on what
clandestine operators can and cannot realistically do for them. This will result in the better utilization of the intelligence product and wiser management of clandestine military resources. It will also mean the CS can then justifiably be held accountable for providing appropriate support to the military. For example, the CS should be able to provide the military with across-the-board support for strategic military planning against validated targets. Depending upon the adversary, its priority, and the lead time given, a successful CS should be able to provide order of battle; foreign military doctrine; readiness, industrial capacity, and logistics information; and information on the personalities at play.
The major contributions of the CS to a commander's ability to
fight will have taken place months if not years prior to the firing of the first weapon. As it has over the last several decades, the CS must continue to collect technical data (e.g., manuals and research and development documentation) and exemplars of the high tech weapons and defensive systems the military will face in war. These collection activities usually take place years in advance and far away from the battlefield, but they are the crucial starting points from which are designed smart weapons and the highly sophisticated defensive and offensive weapons, such as those that were used to such great effect against Iraq's Soviet equipment during the Gulf War. Many, if not all, of those weapons could not have been deployed with such confidence had the enemy weapons systems not been so well understood. Additionally, a military commander is justified in expecting a successful CS to have, if necessary, played a role in compromising the telecommunications and cryptographic capabilities of any potential enemy that is a validated collection target.
Having noted the limitations of clandestine operations in a
battlefield situation, we note the irony that in several of the US military's most recent deployments, clandestine HUMINT-type operations provided much of the best intelligence available to the military. This was not so much due to the capabilities of clandestine collectors as it was a function of the limitations of technical collection systems in environments largely devoid of signals to collect and tanks and military vehicles to photograph.
In a low-tech military operations, clandestine HUMINT can, by
default, become the most important intelligence type and for that reason it must be positioned to help the commander and protect troops. It is partially in recognition of this fact and of the difficulties in surging clandestine capabilities from zero, that we have concluded in Finding Five that the CS should opt for a global presence rather than a global reach. That is to say, the CS should maintain a small presence in most parts of the world, even when those countries do not meet the high standards of operational interests that should guide most of its activities. It is entirely too likely that the hot-spots into which US forces must be introduced will not have been predicted and will be in a country or region that would not otherwise have merited the CS's attention.
Finding #5: The Clandestine Service should opt for "global presence" rather than "global reach."
A solution to the great pressures the DO has felt since 1991
with the drawdown of resources and personnel was to move from being a service with a "global presence," that is, having a station in every country that could reasonably be of interest, to having a "global reach," that is, withdrawing from many marginal countries, but trying to maintain some sort of access and capability that can be, presumably, reconstituted and expanded if needed. Plans were made and, as has already been stated, large numbers of stations and bases have been closed since 1992. Many intelligence observers, including this Committee, thought this was a reasonable adjustment to a situation where resources in real dollars were likely to continue to decline at a steep rate for the foreseeable future. In the last year there has been a retreat in some quarters from this pessimistic resource projection; but, more importantly, many have re-thought the implications and practicality of a global reach strategy.
After much deliberation and consultation with expert
practitioners of clandestine operations and intelligence managers, we believe the CS of the future must strive for a global presence. At the least, it ought not to reduce the number of its overseas stations and bases below current levels. Two arguments are particularly strong.
First, a global presence is essential to support military
requirements. Although this study strongly concludes that the CS should concentrate on the hard targets and the highest level national requirements that it uniquely satisfies, it also believes the CS of the future must accept fully the responsibility to support military operations to the degree it reasonably can. As is argued in Finding Four, the CS must accept its responsibility to support the requirements of the military not only for strategic intelligence -- something in which it can excel -- but also for appropriate tactical intelligence support in times and places of military engagement -- a responsibility that often falls to it only by default. Recent history has shown that it is increasingly difficult to know in advance where the military might be deployed and where the CS should begin building up capabilities in advance.
A second argument for a global presence is that the targets of
the CS are increasingly international and transnational and a global presence is increasingly crucial to attack those targets. Terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, and international organized crime are all recognized in a variety of NSC and Presidential directives as high priority requirements of the intelligence community. These are also issues on which the National Strategic Intelligence Reviews and the Comprehensive Capabilities Review have shown the policymaker is heavily reliant on HUMINT. The National HUMINT Requirements Tasking Center has, it appears correctly, given detailed and high- priority taskings to clandestine operators around the world to go against these targets. With the mobility of populations, fungibility of finances, internationalization of businesses, and advances in communications and transportation, the whole world is increasingly the playground of the targets of such operations. A weapons proliferator can set up a front company in a sleepy Central Africa capital and a terrorist cell can relocate to an obscure provincial city in South America in a matter of days or weeks. It is only by having a presence in those countries that a CS can have a stable of agents to help mount unilateral operations or be able to seek the help of a friendly liaison service. Under these circumstances, the CS cannot simply write off large parts of the globe.
Finding #6: The Clandestine Service should be under the direct control of the DCI and form a separate organization.
It is the opinion of the great majority of high-level current
and former intelligence officials consulted that the Clandestine Service, whether it remains part of the Central Intelligence Agency or becomes a free-standing organization, must be under the direct and proximate control of the President's senior intelligence official, the DCI. We strongly concur.
In the first several decades of the CIA's history it was not
unusual for the DCI or the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) to come from within the operational ranks. That not only resulted in the DCI's being strongly interested in the DO's activities, it also meant he had continuing personal insight into the DO through his personal contacts. This situation has not been the case for almost two decades, and, due to the controversy of the DO, it is unlikely to be the case again in the near future. Until recent years, though, the DCI made sure that the DDO was aware that he reported directly to him and usually viewed oversight of the DDO as being his most important responsibility along with being the President's personal intelligence advisor. It has also been one of the DCI's most demanding responsibilities. As Richard Kerr has noted from his time leading the IC and as DDCI, easily two-thirds of the issues the DCI must bring to the President and Congress have a DO angle to them. This, he says, is because of the types of information the DO collects, the problems inherent in DO operations, and the fact that the DO is the sole action arm in the Community -- "the DCI and the President depend on it not only to collect intelligence but to act on it with foreign governments, with liaison, and in other ways." The DDO's office was moved next to the DCI's in 1973 because of the need for easier interaction and more frequent personal meetings; and, as one former DDO has pointed out, it was not by accident that the DDO's office suite has since remained there -- "within shouting distance."
In recent years, however, the DCI has attempted to concentrate
more on his role as leader of the IC rather than as the director of the CIA and overseer of the DO. Some have been more successful at this than others. Former Director James Woolsey, for example, started in this vein before being sucked into the Aldrich Ames vortex. The effort to increase management attention to the IC at large has inevitably led to strains on the DCI's time and to span of control problems because of the significant increase in the number of intelligence community officials reporting to him. Recent DCIs have stated that these strains are manageable by proper delegation to subordinates. The current DCI, in particular, has increased his reliance on the DDCI and the CIA's Executive Director to filter and oversee the activities of the DO. The current DCI has indicated that, rather than directly supervising the DDO, he looks to the Executive Director to be his "chief operating officer," including the day-to-day management of the DO. Additionally, he has stated that his DDCI is also responsible for overseeing the DO. As described to one journalist, the DDCI "has taken the overall supervisory role in directorate affairs, while day-to-day responsibility for decisions on personnel, operations and other issues goes to [the Executive Director]."/13/ It is not clear, under this system, what the responsibilities are of the current DDO. Interestingly, none of the three -- the DDCI, the Executive Director, and the DDO -- have experience in clandestine operations.
Although the IC21 studies recognize and, indeed, encourage the
expansion of the DCI's Community role, it makes little sense to do that by attenuating the DCI's supervision and knowledge of the activities of a CS. Moreover, as would be the case in the military, it makes even less sense to create duplicative or even a triply redundant operational management of a CS -- particularly to the degree this process inserts inexpert judgment.
The following are a few of the arguments for the most direct
and proximate DCI control possible.
1) Most of the operations of the CS are, by all accounts, the
most tricky, politically sensitive, and troublesome of those in the IC and frequently require the DCI's close personal attention. The CS is the only part of the IC, indeed of the government, where hundreds of employees on a daily basis are directed to break extremely serious laws in counties around the world in the face of frequently sophisticated efforts by foreign governments to catch them. A safe estimate is that several hundred times every day (easily 100,000 times a year) DO officers engage in highly illegal activities (according to foreign law) that not only risk political embarrassment to the US but also endanger the freedom if not lives of the participating foreign nationals and, more than occasionally, of the clandestine officer himself. In other words, a typical 28 year old, GS-11 case officer has numerous opportunities every week, by poor tradecraft or inattention, to embarrass his country and President and to get agents imprisoned or executed. Considering these facts and recent history, which has shown that the DCI, whether he wants to or not, is held accountable for overseeing the CS, the DCI must work closely with the Director of the CS and hold him fully and directly responsible to him.
2) For the President and the DCI to feel confident that the
benefits of having a functioning CS outweigh the risks, they must feel confident that the reporting chain is direct and personally accountable to them. Without this confidence, the CS will not be trusted and it will inevitably come under an inexpert, risk-averse bureaucratic review process, with each layer comfortable with rejecting and questioning operational opportunities but reluctant to approve them without going to the DCI anyway. The creation of a doubly or triply redundant superstructure of non-expert operational management between the Director of the CS and the DCI makes sense only if an Administration's objective is to eliminate risk even if the cost is having a CS that has little if any chance of succeeding in its most important missions. If this is the case, the IC and the taxpayer would be better off without a CS.
3) Many of the best clandestine operations develop quickly
and require an oversight and approval process that, for the government, is uniquely adaptable and timely. The DCI's authorities have been crafted so that he can meet these requirements. Bureaucratic layers between the DCI and the Director of the CS are impediments to decisiveness and effective communication, particularly to the degree that they involve the review of administrators who are not expert in understanding the opportunities and pitfalls of clandestine operations.
4) The CS is the focal point for the conduct of most US
intelligence liaison activities overseas (see Finding Two) and is the arm of the government principally tasked to carry out covert actions -- that is those covert activities undertaken at the President's request in furtherance of US foreign policy. In effect, the CS, under the direction of the DCI, acts as a de facto clandestine or covert arm of US foreign policy. This is hardly an overstatement in several important countries where the political leaderships have chosen, for a variety of reasons, to carry out their more sensitive political discussions with the US President through intelligence rather than Department of State channels. Covert action and foreign political functions are activities very different from intelligence collection, and it makes little sense to have the IC management superstructure in the chain of command for the DCI's management of these policy related activities. Simply put, the DCI must be fully cognizant and directly in control of these activities through the individual responsible for their being carried out -- the Director of the CS.
5) As documented elsewhere in this report, the CS, despite
its relatively small size in the IC, provides a disproportionate amount of intelligence of critical value to meeting national level intelligence requirements (that is those of greatest interest to the President and the NSC). When it performs well, the CS is particularly important as a source of highly sensitive information on the plans and intentions of foreign powers. In some ways the CS's importance to the policymaker is analogous to the importance of SIGINT and, most particularly, IMINT, in supporting the tactical military intelligence consumer. The placement of the CS in the IC should maximize the DCI's ability to exploit and task the clandestine system directly./14/
6) Finally, organizational common sense dictates that if
there is to be anyone responsible to the DCI for the proper administration of the CS, it should be the individual who is realistically responsible for its actions: the Director of the CS. If properly chosen and trusted by the DCI, the Director of the CS can do this job better than anyone else. If a DCI finds himself in the position of preferring to have someone other than his Director of the CS oversee the CS, he should replace the incumbent with the preferred individual, rather than create another layer of oversight by putting him above the incumbent.
Having made these arguments, there is, nonetheless, a very
real requirement for an Executive Director with the authorities to
manage and deconflict administrative problems and act as an honest
broker in resolving differences so long as the very different
activities of the DO, Directorate of Intelligence (DI), Directorate
of Science and Technology (DS&T) are housed together in the CIA.
We have grave concerns, however, about the propriety of having the Executive Director perform the role as defined by the current DCI, that is, as the "chief operating officer" of the CIA. These concerns go beyond the issue of properly managing clandestine operations: it appears extraordinarily unwise to put one non-confirmed official in the position of managing clandestine intelligence collection, directing covert action programs, and supervising and influencing the production of the nation's most important all-source analytic organization. There should not be a concentration of these authorities in the hands of someone other than the DCI or a confirmed subordinate, particularly when there is no assurance that the person is a qualified intelligence professional.
Former Acting DCI, Richard Kerr, a career DI officer, proposed
to the Committee that, if the current CIA and IC structure are maintained, it would make sense to have a career CS officer as the Senate-confirmed DDCI who is putting in charge of the day-to-day management of the CIA. At the least, such an arrangement would likely provide more professional oversight of clandestine operations and provide more accountability than the current confusing situation. It is less certain that this would benefit the CIA's other functions.
It is, of course, our belief that rather than modifying the
status quo, there are real advantages for the proper management of clandestine operations (and all-source analysis) in organizationally separating the two. The current situation has resulted from the historic administrative expediency that the CIA statutorily is the only agency into which the DCI could put activities he wanted to control. There was no other managerial logic behind it, and, indeed, until recently, great care was taken to keep these two activities separate. Although there are strong arguments supporting an increase in cooperation between operations and analysis, such as currently advancing in the CIA under the banner of "DO-DI Partnership" (see Finding Eight), there is no reason the two activities must exist as elements of the same IC entity.
The creation of a unified CS, built around what is currently
the DO, significantly revamped along the lines presented in this report, and under a Director fully and directly responsible to the DCI, would be in consonance with the arguments in this finding. It would also facilitate the proposal to strengthen the CIA's role, under the leadership of one of two DDCIs, as being first and foremost the nation's and President's premier all-source analytic organization (see Intelligence Community Management staff study).
Finding #7: The Clandestine Service (CS) should be led by career CS officers.
It makes little sense to put non-specialists in positions
where the main job element is the provision of wise, expert operational direction and oversight. This is true in choosing a general, the head of a team of surgeons, or the leader of a large legal defense team. It is also true in selecting the leadership of a CS.
As pointed out in Finding One, the most difficult operational
decisions of the CS must be reviewed (and often made) by the CS leadership. This requires expert knowledge of a widely diverse set of skills and techniques unique to the CS. Additionally, managing a CS means managing a higher level of risk on a daily basis than any other job in the government. An unquestionable expertise in the business is necessary to avoid the managerial extremes of risk- avoidance and risk-blindness, the one hobbling the CS from taking those risks most important to its success, the other leading to mindless operational errors.
The current DO, for example, engages in several hundred
clandestine operational acts per day -- ranging from meeting penetrations of governments to servicing clandestine technical intelligence sites. Most of these acts, if discovered, would, at the very least, involve major embarrassment to the United States. A properly run CS has to have built into it the flexibility to allow case officers to make split second decisions, but it must also, when possible, look over their shoulders, making sure they exercise proper judgment. This leads to a steeply pyramidical organizational structure. In the field, this means that operations are reviewed by one or two layers of management, and the headquarters review process may also involve several layers and offices.
The most sensitive operations may have to be reviewed all the
way up the chain of command by the Director of the CS and even the DCI. A typical operational problem of this sort would be deciding whether a case officer should unload a dead drop from a extraordinarily promising but unvetted agent in a hostile country a week prior to a high-level bilateral diplomatic event. Such a problem might also involve high-level consultation outside the CS (such as with appropriate authorities in the NSC or the Department of State). First, though, it requires proper operational evaluation in the form of an operational risk/gain analysis. This requires a sophisticated understanding and appreciation of many operational factors and the tradecraft to be employed: surveillance, countersurveillance, operational testing, concealed radio communications, covers for status and action, host country counterintelligence capabilities, US operational history in the country, and a frank assessment of the operational experience of the CS officers and managers involved. Even then, making such a decision is not mechanical, a simple matter of plugging in percentages. As in playing chess or in plotting a move on a battlefield, there are too many variables, and at some point the manager must also apply the intuition and judgment that comes only from having spent years working similar problems. If the leadership of the CS is not the absolutely best available -- the wisest and most experienced -- risks are needlessly increased, opportunities are missed, and the US is not well served.
This finding, that the CS should be led by career CS
officers is not the same as advocating that its whole leadership and management team should arise sui generis. In addition to managing operations, the director of the CS must also manage an organization. It is in this regard that the current DO has not always distinguished itself. There is a role for consultants in improving this situation and in making sure that the CS benefits from good managerial practices that are developed elsewhere. The long-term solution also involves changes to the CS personnel system, particularly as it works to develop officers who show potential for leadership. These officers should be targeted for advanced management training (assuming they do not already have significant backgrounds in the area) such as in graduate programs, and should be required to serve rotational tours outside the CS prior to advancement into the senior executive service.
Also, it is not impossible that there may be an extraordinary
occasion when an individual, having developed extremely useful talents working in another intelligence or national security field, may be the best candidate to serve in a management position in the CS, perhaps even as its Director. In such a case, however, it would be essential that the Director of the CS assemble around him a management team on which he can rely for operational advice.
Finally, as a practical matter, recent history has shown that
DDOs (and even DCIs) are being held responsible for operational decisions that are made during their tenures -- even at levels far below them. While this tendency may now be extreme, there is no denying, as has been strenuously argued in the Finding Six, that the country and the DCI will be best served by having a Director of the CS who can reasonably be held responsible (and accountable) for the CS's activities.
Finding #8: The Clandestine Service should be closely linked to all-source analysts on a selective basis.
The proposal to separate the CS administratively and
organizationally from the DCI's all-source analytic organization is not meant to attenuate the close working relationships ("partnership") that have grown up between these two functions. An increasingly close working relationship between the clandestine collectors and all-source analysts can, in the coming years, result in significant improvements to the value of CS reporting and all-source analytic production, but only if it is carefully and thoughtfully implemented in those areas where the expertise of the relevant collection and analytic components are complementary and lead to unquestioned mutual benefit. At least from the perspective of the CS, the problems of a careful, limited partnership should be manageable and are far outweighed by the advantages, not the least of which is the improvement of two-way communications for tasking and reporting./15/
The 1994 announcement of partnership between the DO and DI was
met with skepticism by many current and former employees of both directorates. Part of the opposition was attributable to the feeling on the part of many that too many other changes were already underway at the CIA. Another major reason was that the partnership went against a tradition of separation that, though weaker than it had been, continues. In the early years of the CIA, the division between the two functions was so sharp that one directorate's employees were not free to visit areas belonging to the other without escort. The division became somewhat less severe in the 1970s and more so in the 1980s with a program bringing DI analysts into some embassies and stations. At the headquarters level, it was the hard-fought success of the newly formed centers, particularly the Counterterrorism Center, that most accelerated the interaction of DO and DI personnel./16/ In the DO, the value of DI analysts in targeting/17/ reinforced the trend: for example, Office of Weapons Technology and Proliferation personnel are integral to DO offices working proliferation issues, and DI economists sit side-by-side with DO officers to fine-tune the targeting and exploitation of foreign economic targets.
These are examples of partnership that should be replicated
discretely, on a case-by-case basis where and as it makes sense. It seems likely that the area and issue expertise of all-source analysts will be of greatest benefit to the CS in its efforts to develop hard target operations and work against arcane technological and economic targets.
The arguments for partnership also justify closer interactions
between all-source analysts and the technical collection disciplines. Nonetheless, the data (such as in the Background section of this study), showing the key role clandestine collection plays in satisfying the national level requirements that are the DI's principal focus, indicate the DI would benefit most from closer cooperation with the clandestine service. In this regard, the partnership is analogous to the closeness that has developed between SIGINT producers (via Cryptologic Support Groups) and tactical military analysts due to SIGINT's frequently predominant role in providing tactical military intelligence.
Finding #9: The Clandestine Service should manage the support mechanisms that are critical to its functioning and essential to its success and that exist exclusively to serve it.
As one former clandestine operations manager has suggested, no
corporate CEO would agree to be responsible for the success or failure of his company without full control over his company's finances, travel, communications, logistics, physical plant, security, payroll and many personnel functions. Yet, that is basically the situation that exists now with the DO since the Directorate of Administration (DA) is responsible for much of the DO's administrative support and the Office of Technical Services (OTS) of the DS&T provides technical support to clandestine operations.
The CS needs, to the degree possible, to manage the
administrative and technical clandestine operations support mechanisms that are critical to its smooth functioning, essential to its success, and exist exclusively to serve it./18/ In addition to making these functions more responsive to the mission, their merger in the CS may allow the service to take advantage of the increasing commonality of skills required of categories of personnel that are now spread between three different directorates -- case officers specializing in technical operations, technical operations support officers, and communications/computer systems support officers.
If the CS does assume responsibility for its technical
operations support and large parts of its administrative support, it is reasonable to expect that the number of people in these activities could make up somewhere between twenty five and thirty-five percent of the service. To house, manage, and offer career development to these personnel, there would have to be a strengthened deputy to the Director of the CS responsible for all elements of support.
Finally, in regard to our proposal in Finding One that the CS
should be kept small, the incorporation of appropriate support activities within the CS should not be considered a net augmentation of its personnel, since this change simply rationalizes the location of functions and offices that are currently outside the DO but which exist to support it.
Finding #10: The Clandestine Service requires significant changes to its personnel management and career development systems.
The outrage -- public and within the CIA -- surrounding the
exposure of Aldrich Ames as a Soviet and later Russian spy who had managed to compromise many of the CIA's greatest and most carefully guarded secrets, was magnified by his having been a marginal and occasionally a problem employee whom the system had failed to remove prior to his committing acts of treachery. The Ames case, rightly or wrongly, has been the backdrop against which subsequent allegations of DO mismanagement have been viewed. Calls for radical change have come from many quarters, not the least being from the current leadership of the CIA and from former DCI Woolsey.
Most of the changes that have been made to date have involved
efforts to reform defective systemic or process problems. There have been so many changes in the complementary areas of personnel management, accountability, personnel security, and counterespionage that it would take several pages to list them. Their number and the rapidity with which they have been promulgated has stretched the ability of the DO to incorporate them and make them part of the fabric of the CS. No doubt, some will turn out to be more successful than others, and it may be that some of them will result in unforeseen problems of their own. In this regard, those seeking to change the DO must be cautious not to damage those features of the "culture" that are not only good but essential to any successful CS. Sociological studies have amply proved that, just as in attempting to "improve" an ecosystem, efforts to improve or reform seemingly discrete aspects of a culture will frequently have unforeseen and unintended consequences.
For these reasons we are reluctant to recommend any but the
most necessary additional changes prior to giving those already decided upon a chance to show their effect and be evaluated. There is also the knowledge that change always causes stress -- even when the intentions are welcomed -- particularly on an organization that, to succeed, is so totally dependent upon employee job satisfaction, motivation, and esprit de corps. Nonetheless, there remain to be made several overwhelmingly logical changes to the personnel management and career development system. Each appears to have tremendous potential to improve the CS in the long-term without running much danger of disabling the positive aspects of a successful CS "culture." Moreover, most of these proposals can be implemented incrementally and carefully monitored as they are put into effect.
The CS of the future should: 1) increase the exposure of its officers to the rest of the IC, the intelligence consumers, and Congress; 2) develop an enhanced program for recruiting new junior employees; 3) be more aggressive in identifying officers who will be CS managers and ensuring that they are qualified or will receive training qualifying them to manage; 4) reduce the rapid turnover of personnel in field and headquarters assignments; and 5) make fuller use of DCI authorities to remove marginal and unsuitable employees.
The arguments in support of these proposals are, we believe, clear and incontrovertible.
Increasing exposure to the rest of the government: An
unfortunate side-effect of the uniqueness of the DO's work has been a belief that there is little advantage, individually or organizationally, in having its employees work outside of it. The DO has until very recently been content to be insular and isolated, believing its role and the value of its product were self-evident. Accordingly, DO officers felt that if the organization identified the right thing to do and simply went out and did it, the consumer would be happy and the DO would be largely immune from criticism. This is clearly no longer true, if it ever was. But it was in this way that the DO -- an organization filled with people priding themselves on being able to go into a foreign country, figure out its inner workings, and quickly learn which buttons to push -- became so willfully ignorant about how Washington, D.C. works and inept in dealing with it.
The DO's isolation has hurt it at every level. Inside the IC
it has been viewed as elitist and deserving a comeuppance. For this reason there was no absence of schadenfreude around the IC at the DO's recent difficulties. Outside the IC, the consumers of intelligence were largely ignorant of the DO's activities and capabilities, most of them having never met a DO officer and seldom seeing a raw DO report. Further, the DO's willful ignorance of Congress was compounded by distrust and mixed feelings about oversight (which, to be fair, has been fed by some Congressional actions). An increase in the number of rotational assignments within the IC, in consumer agencies and departments, and as Congressional fellows would appear to serve well in opening up the CS to the realities of Washington, D.C. This will be impractical for most younger officers whose covert employment status must be protected; however, it should not present insurmountable problems for most mid-level officers whose cover may have already been compromised to some degree.
The process for recruiting young, full-career employees
("career trainees" as they are called in the CIA) is in drastic need of change. In the past, the DO operated in a buyer's market when recruiting new employees. It had the luxury of being able to pick and choose among literally thousands of applicants, many with impressive qualifications, for each position it had to fill. As a result, its new recruits were usually well-educated, highly motivated, and highly qualified for the work. This situation has changed dramatically for the worse over the last two years since the Ames case. Despite the DO being significantly under its authorized personnel ceiling, it is having tremendous problems recruiting qualified new employees, although the number of applicants remains high. The current climate of public opinion being what it is, it appears unlikely that this situation will improve on its own in the next several years. This is a problem that will have disastrous effects on the CS of the future and requires immediate action. The DCI and the DDO should prepare for Congressional consideration a program of more aggressive and enhanced recruitment of career trainees. The DCI should consider reopening regional recruitment offices that were closed in the early 1990's, establishing a program of incentives for highly qualified recruits, and putting the recruitment process under the direct leadership of a highly qualified senior executive.
Identifying and training managers: The existing personnel
evaluation system in the DO is arguably the best in the IC if not the government. To our knowledge, no other element of the government annually has every employee's personnel record and evaluations reviewed cover-to-cover, annotated by all members of a panel of more senior employees, and then serially rated in comparison with all peers. Moreover, the DO, like the rest of the CIA, is excellent in training its personnel in specific skills and subjects, as, for example, in languages or tradecraft skills. Yet, neither the personnel system nor training form part of a coherent program of career development for managers.
Although it is extremely likely that a good manager of
clandestine operations will have started out as a good clandestine operator, it does not follow that all good clandestine operators make good managers. It is a universal observation of the experts consulted that the DO does an outstanding job of evaluating and promoting individuals who are good at what they do, but that it does not have a good system to ensure they will be good at what they will be asked to do next. To remedy this, the personnel evaluation system should be modified to identify and train (if necessary) mid-level officers entering the management ranks in the management skills necessary for them to manage well through the rest of their careers. This should include enhanced in-house training as well as a program of external training, as necessary. The CS should also revisit the possibility of setting up a non-managerial "operations track" program whereby the truly exceptional clandestine operator who cannot be or is not interested in managing may serve out his career profitably in senior operations positions. At the very least, such a system saves the CS from having some of its management positions filled with individuals who are there for the money and recognition rather than because of their commitment and interest in the job.
Slow down the turnover of personnel: In the heyday of the
1980's when personnel resources were not under strain, the DO was able to operate under a system where there was rapid turnover of personnel at headquarters and in the field. In an organization that is smaller and more focused on fewer but better operations, continuity in leadership and operations will be increasingly important as well as efficient. To the degree that cover considerations allow, field tours should be lengthened. Headquarters assignments also should be made with an understanding that they will be filled for a minimum of two years at the desk and branch level and for three years at the division level, unless extraordinary circumstances demand otherwise. The current situation of most desk and branch chiefs serving a year or less while processing for field assignments or waiting for other assignments is counterproductive and feeds the perception of the field that it has no dedicated and informed personal support from headquarters. Managers at the office and division level will also manage better if they know that they will have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Making changes of this sort will fly in the face of the deeply ingrained attitude inside the DO that the field is fun and career-enhancing, while headquarters is stultifying and "dead-time." This is one of those areas of "culture" that can be changed only at great risk, since it is essential that a CS have the field as its unquestioned focus and principal interest. The CS of the future should consider, however, a system giving some sort of temporary monetary incentives (as opposed to enhanced promotion rates) to officers distinguishing themselves at headquarters, particularly if done over a two-year minimum.
Finally, the CS must make fuller use of DCI authorities and,
if necessary, request new ones to enhance its ability to remove marginal and unsuitable employees. Quite simply, the stakes are too high not to do this. The CS must not only have the best system for recruiting employees, it must have the best system for removing those whom it no longer needs or wants. The current system in the DO is the most aggressive in the civilian sector of government -- actually removing a handful of employees each year; however, as the Aldrich Ames case proved, it is not vigorous enough. Moreover, there is a consensus of opinion of those consulted that marginal employees have a particularly demoralizing effect in a CS that is so greatly dependent upon its employees' having an attitude of absolute commitment to mission. Since the current DO has an effective employee evaluation system allowing it to identify marginal performers and there has been a significant increase in attention to identifying unsuitable employees, the CS should develop a program that allows it to act more systematically to remove marginal and unsuitable employees. Considering the net advantage to the CS's operations from the departure of such employees and the danger posed by their being forced out without pensions or other compensation, the Committee should consider supporting the establishment of a program similar to the military's "selective early retirement boards" whereby a employee can be selected out and provided a package of financial benefits facilitating the transition.
Finding #11: To facilitate the highest possible standards of professional conduct, the Clandestine Service requires a system of independent and professionally competent review and adjudication regarding questions of professional judgment.
In the wake of the Ames case there has been a proliferation of
systems meant to ensure the accountability of DO personnel for their professional judgments. These can involve internal DO accountability boards, CIA-wide review boards, counterintelligence reviews, and the Inspector General (IG). The processes are frequently redundant in their charters, inconsistent in the qualifications of their participants, and take upwards of a year to reach their conclusions. In an organization that demands its officers take risks, involves the use of highly specialized skills, and by definition will have numerous false starts and failures for each major success, it is essential to have a single independent, authoritative, professionally competent, and timely system of reviewing questions of professional judgment. None of the current systems meets all these criteria.
Questions of professional judgment in the military, such as
accidental killings by friendly fire, running a ship aground, or crashing an airplane are examined by a board of review consisting of military officers who are technically knowledgeable and professionally experienced in the activity under review. Similarly, professional organizations exist to police the activities of various highly specialized and recognized professions, such as bar associations and medical boards. In all these cases, it is the rationale that the members of such boards have a strong interest in maintaining high professional standards and, as experts, are qualified to sit in judgment. There should be an analogous process for reviewing the professional competence and judgments of individuals in the clandestine service, excluding those issues involving possible fraud or criminal behavior that must be left to the IG. At a senior level, this process would, for example, be used to review operational decisions such as those leading to the compromise of an intelligence source due to improper handling, a COS's improper supervision of a first tour officer who as a result commits preventable tradecraft errors, or a manager who has improperly disseminated intelligence or operational information. At lower levels, it can involve any number of issues, such as the review of professionalism of employees who are chronically late, sloppy in their work, or dishonest in their dealings with their counterparts.
We envision a CS Professional Review Board (PRB) system and
offer the following as a possible outline of its organization. To facilitate expertness while minimizing the likelihood of its being subject to inappropriate influence, there should be at the top of the system a Senior PRB, directed by a retired senior CS officer (civilian or military) or one serving in his last active duty assignment. Other members of the Senior SRB should be current and/or recently retired senior CS officers having the requisite professional knowledge and experience to judge CS seniors expertly. All members of the Senior SRB including its director should be nominated by the Director of the CS and approved by the DCI. The Senior PRB will be responsible for reviewing all questions of professional judgment and competence involving senior CS officers and will, in any specific case, include only those members having no personal interest or prejudice concerning the matter or individual in question./19/
The Senior PRB should also oversee the activities of PRBs
reviewing activities at lower levels in the CS. These could be similar to the newly created DO Divisional Accountability Boards with the limitation that their purview should extend only to those cases not involving senior CS officers. A member of the Senior SRB should be an ex officio member of all PRB reviews, and the Senior PRB should be authorized to examine all PRB decisions for fairness, accuracy, and completeness. The Senior and divisional PRBs should be given unimpeded and complete access to all information necessary to carry out their duties. The process should be transparent to the IG, and their findings should be shared with the IG to ensure he is aware of any information developed that might bring the issue at hand under the IG's purview./20/ PRBs should also have at their disposal the investigative resources of the DCI's Counterintelligence Center,/21/ where the Senior PRB should also be housed with a minimal full-time administrative staff.
FINDING #12: Clandestine Operations and the Military: Civilian and military clandestine collection operations should be jointly managed within a unified Clandestine Service under the policy and operational guidance of the DCI and with an active duty two-star military intelligence officer as a Deputy Director of the Clandestine Service responsible for ensuring appropriate support to the military. Key to the success of the joint service will be the development within the military of a clandestine collection cadre that can function within the unified clandestine service at the same professional level as the civilian cadre.
Background and Overview
Although the CS's strengths are predominantly in the area of
fulfilling national level collection requirements, we strongly believes the CS must have support to the military as one of its key roles. Clandestine capabilities in support of the military are currently disjointed, poorly managed, and even dysfunctional. The "Aspin-Brown" Commission, citing criticisms of the military's poor management and minimal success in running clandestine operations, has recommended that DoD should get out of the business of clandestinely recruiting human sources and that it should become the exclusive province of the CIA, "utilizing military personnel on detail from DoD, as necessary." We concur with this judgment, placing all clandestine collection capabilities in the CS, but prefer a more active role for the military personnel assigned to the CS than the Commission language implies.
The military services' record of running clandestine
operations has been mediocre. The newly created Defense HUMINT Service (DHS) into which the individual services' clandestine operations have been consolidated, has remedied some problems but exacerbated others. Specifically, the creation of DHS has alienated what little support there was for clandestine operations in the services and with the CINCs while, at the same time, bringing these operations more closely under the inexpert and cumbersome oversight processes of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
The situation at the CIA also is of concern. The CIA/DO's
commitment to support the military has been inconsistent since the end of the Vietnam War. The improvements made in the wake of the Gulf War, although positive, are not deeply rooted, and the DO has been reluctant to make further commitments to provide direct support to the military since that might put it in bureaucratic conflict or competition with DHS. At the same time the DDO, as the National HUMINT Collection Manager, has not provided DHS with the strong operational guidance it needs to develop a coherent long-term strategy for deployment of its operational resources. In short, radical changes are required for the CS of the future if it is ever adequately to meet the challenge of supporting the military.
To facilitate IC21 examination of this issue, the Committee
requested, in the classified annex to the FY 1996 authorization, that the DDO (in his role as HUMINT collection manager), form a joint task force of high-level clandestine operations officers from the DO and DHS to look into the issue of improving and integrating the two services' support to the military. That report, dated November 13, 1995 and attached as an appendix to the classified version of this study, gives an excellent analysis of many of the current structural and managerial problems and provides some proposed solutions. We are, in general, strongly supportive of the task force's findings and believe that, if fully adopted, they would result in numerous incremental improvements that would, in aggregate, significantly improve some aspects of the existing situation. Yet, the changes it proposes leave fundamental problems untouched, probably as being politically and organizationally "too hard." It is in no way a criticism of the study to acknowledge that it had to restrict its suggestions to those that would not challenge the charters of the DO and DHS, the cumbersome military personnel system, or OSD prerogatives in overseeing one of its own agency's activities. However, in the context of the IC21 study's look to the future, we are not bound by these restrictions; indeed, its purpose is to look beyond the current realities and address fundamental problems that go to the very core questions of organization, roles, and missions. The potential gain from rethinking the whole organization of clandestine collection for the military warrants the difficulties of taking on existing parochialisms and mindsets.
We strongly believe there must be a single US CS into which
are integrated civilian and military clandestine collection. As discussed in Finding Six, this new organization, the CS, should exist as a discrete entity in the IC and come under the DCI's direct control. It will devote the great majority of its resources towards the national collection requirements that clandestine operations are uniquely suited to satisfy. It would also, however, have folded into it a permanent requirement to be more responsive to the military in the formulation of national clandestine collection plans and ensure greater support to the military commander as needed when US forces are deployed overseas. Its military cadre should be of a size necessary to meet the requirement for clandestine collectors with the cover and expertise of active duty military personnel -- perhaps ten to twenty percent.
The creation of this new joint organization would involve
tremendous changes and may meet strong institutional resistance, particularly within the Department of Defense. If successfully implemented, however, it would result in the rationalization and enhanced management of all national clandestine collection resources, tremendous synergy from the melding of talents and varieties of access, economies of scale, and greatly improved collection for all consumers -- national and tactical military.
In the following, we will discuss some of the critical issues
that must be addressed to bring the military into a joint CS: building a cadre of military clandestine collectors, managing support to the military, and the proper oversight of military clandestine operations.
On the civilian side -- that is, within what is currently the
DO -- many of the most serious challenges to creating a joint CS have been addressed by other findings in this study. Finding Four argues that the CS must better service-validated, high-level military requirements and have the capability to support low-level, tactical requirements as appropriate. This must become an intrinsic part of every aspect of the CS's strategic planning. Finding Five outlines the judgment that the CS must have a global presence, particularly because military contingency collection requirements are so difficult to predict in advance. Military clandestine collectors could be instrumental in filling the requirement to staff these "military contingency" locations.
To the degree that cover concerns can be met, career military
and civilian members of a joint CS should be able to serve interchangeably in all clandestine service positions in the field and at headquarters, and assignments should be based solely on qualifications and relevant operational experience. These would be deep "cultural" changes for a civilian clandestine collection community that has grown accustomed to viewing most uniformed clandestine operators as being a grab-bag of officers of varying levels of talent, with limited training, and even more limited experience.
The military services must meet the challenge of helping
produce this cadre of talented, well trained, and experienced uniformed clandestine collectors. This will require some strong direction from the very top of DoD, in OSD and at the Joint Chiefs level. Without that sort of leadership, history shows us that the services are likely to pay only lip service (if that) to supporting the creation of a unified CS. In the best of times the services have not seen fit to recognize clandestine operations as a bona fide military career specialization and there is unanimity of opinion that there have been definite career disincentives to working in that area. Now the services and the CINCs, having lost "ownership" of clandestine resources with the creation of DHS, are even less enthusiastic. Several individuals have advised that the military services have informally counselled their best HUMINT officers that their careers will be jeopardized by accepting assignments in DHS. Without commitment from the top, there will be a continuation if not a worsening of the services' current lackluster support for the development of a program to select, train, and nurture career clandestine collectors.
There are numerous ideas on how to build a strong military
clandestine collection cadre within a unified CS. The following is offered as an example that may have merit. First, the services must work with the CS to recruit highly qualified individuals from those on active duty, in ROTC programs, and in the service academies. The selectivity of the military cadre must be equal to that of the civilian. The services must then work with the CS to develop covers, training programs and career tracks that will give these recruits the military experience necessary to satisfy military requirements expertly as well as a high level of competence in clandestine operations.
Management of Clandestine Support to the Military
The designation of a Deputy Director of the Clandestine
Service for Military Intelligence (DDCS/MI) at the two-star rank may be essential to the success of a unified CS. The position will expand upon the position of Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for Military Affairs (ADDO/MA) created in the aftermath of the Gulf War. The ADDO/MA, with the strong support of the DDO, did an outstanding job of increasing the CIA/DO's responsiveness to military intelligence consumers. Moreover, this success (as is not always the case) was widely acknowledged, particularly at the regional unified commands./22/
An important element of the DDCS/MI's duties should be his
having direct control of CS support cells that are embedded in the regional commands and other important DoD entities. These cells should operate much like the National Security Agency's "Cryptologic Support Groups" and act as the Community's single focal point for the development and implementation of the clandestine operations element of intelligence support doctrine.
Oversight of Clandestine Operations Involving Military Personnel
For this or any other military clandestine operations activity
to succeed it must be removed from the direct regular operational oversight of OSD. The OSD guidelines and procedures developed in 1994 and 1995, and under which DHS now operates, have shown themselves to be cumbersome, time-consuming and (some would argue) subject to political manipulation.
Findings Six and Seven of this study discuss at great length
the reasons clandestine operations require nimble, informed operational oversight. These reasons apply equally to operations undertaken by civilian and military operators. The current system in place in OSD ensures decisions on fast-breaking sensitive operations are made only after months of "staffing" and at a bureaucratic level far removed from anyone having direct knowledge of the relevant facts. It is a formula for guaranteeing a risk-adverse, bureaucratic, and mediocre CS. As proposed under this finding, all clandestine operations carried out by the unified CS would come under the operational and policy oversight procedures set up by the DCI, using his authorities. The DDCS/MI will be positioned in the CS to ensure that the operations do not run afoul DoD regulations and guidelines and to facilitate any necessary deconfliction. Also, there should be built into the system a procedure whereby appropriate DoD officials are advised and consulted regarding particularly sensitive operations involving uniformed personnel.
Even if it is decided that, for bureaucratic or organizational
reasons, this finding is too revolutionary and difficult to enact, we strongly recommend that DHS's give up its sideline of clandestine operations and concentrate its efforts on its larger, more productive and cost effective overt collection mission. It is our belief that DHS' clandestine mission is unlikely ever to rise above built-in limitations and justify the cost and risks involved. Even if the military does not opt to participate fully in a joint CS, we would like to see DoD detail to the CS a small number of select officers. The potential advantages of a small program of this sort should be sufficiently apparent to DoD to warrant its approval, even if DoD is unwilling to participate in a full-fledged joint CS.
------------------------------ FOOTNOTES /1/The term HUMINT was coined as a contraction of "human
intelligence," a category of intelligence meant to contrast with the varieties of technical intelligence known as SIGINT (signals intelligence), IMINT (imagery intelligence), and MASINT (measurements and signatures intelligence). As usually employed now, any intelligence coming from a meeting with a human source - clandestine or overt - can be categorized as HUMINT. Nonetheless, overt HUMINT is also sometimes categorized as a type of open source intelligence, which is now in some corners called OSINT. To confuse matters further, any intelligence disseminated by the CIA's Directorate of Operations, even that coming from several of the traditional types of technical operations (e.g., from teletaps and audio operations) is sometimes lumped into the HUMINT category. Also, the Department of Defense (DoD) sometimes calls the reporting coming from the direct observation of a US intelligence reporter "HUMINT."
/2/This study will concentrate on the intelligence
collection aspects of clandestine operations. It is this study's assumption that any serious examination of covert action will conclude that it would be inefficient and unwise to separate covert action from clandestine intelligence activities such as was attempted and abandoned in the early years of the CIA. Since 1952, the CIA's clandestine service (the Directorate of Operations and its predecessor organization, the Directorate of Plans) has been responsible for the full panoply of covert action activities. These range from running agents of influence who can clandestinely influence a foreign government's policies to executing clandestine or, at the least, "plausibly deniable" paramilitary operations meant to overthrow or harass foreign regimes. Covert action also frequently involves the exploitation of covert or clandestine cooperative intelligence relationships with foreign countries to further US positions in a type of quiet diplomacy. Experience has shown that the quality of a covert action is usually directly proportional to the quality of intelligence collection because the best agents of influence frequently have the best access to intelligence and vice versa.
/3/For the purposes of discussion in this section of the
study, we will concentrate on the DO. Although the newly created Defense HUMINT Service of the Department of Defense consolidates most military clandestine operations, it is as yet an infant organization running fewer operations globally than does the CIA in many countries.
/4/John Walcott and Brian Duffy, "The CIA's Darkest Secret,"
U.S. News and World Report, 4 July 1994, p. 35.
/5/It must be noted that the Reviews are inconsistent in
their use of the term HUMINT. Frequently they use it in exclusive reference to clandestine HUMINT and refer to overt collection as part of open source collection. Yet, in other instances it lumps clandestine and overt in the same "HUMINT" category.
/6/As is discussed under "Finding Four" of this study, the
role of clandestine reporting is significantly more limited in supporting the tactical intelligence requirements of military commanders. This is most evident on a technologically sophisticated battlefield where technical intelligence collection techniques can be far more useful.
/7/"Does the CIA Still Have a Role?" Foreign Affairs 74,
no.5 (September/October 1995): 110.
/8/This calculus is frequently misstated even in the IC by
those who would weigh the potential intelligence benefit from an operation against the cost of its assumed compromise. So, for example, one would ask, "Assuming this will be compromised and be used against us, is it worthwhile recruiting the army chief of staff in country X?" Needless to say, few operations would be justifiable under such a formulation. Similarly, no one would ever drive to a grocery store or to work if that action were being weighed against an assumed worse case scenario -- a fatal auto accident. The proper calculus is to weigh the potential intelligence benefit against the cost of a realistically appraised possibility of compromise.
/9/NHRTC's guidance is binding on the clandestine and overt
HUMINT collection elements inside the IC, such as on the DO and the overt and clandestine elements of the Defense HUMINT Service. It is advisory in making its recommendations to the collection elements outside the community, such as to the Foreign Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce and in the Department of State embassy reporting program. NHRTC's effectiveness in validating and allocating requirements has been recognized and further improved by its also providing guidance for open source collection in the IC, such as by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.
/10/The other major issue between law enforcement and
intelligence is the use of intelligence information and capabilities for law enforcement purposes. Since this problem extends across the intelligence spectrum (not just clandestine operations) it has been treated in the IC21 Intelligence and Law Enforcement staff study.
/11/In its report Making Intelligence Smarter: The Future
of US Intelligence, the Council for Foreign Relations notes:
As a rule of thumb, foreign policy ought to take precedence over law enforcement when it comes to overseas operations. The bulk of US intelligence efforts overseas is devoted to traditional national security concerns; as a result, law enforcement must ordinarily be a secondary concern. FBI and DEA agents operating abroad should not be allowed to act independently of either the ambassador or CIA lest pursuit of evidence or individuals for purposes of prosecution cause major foreign policy problems or complicate ongoing intelligence and diplomatic activities. Similarly, the Aspin-Brown Commission report takes exception
with the law enforcement argument that the executive branch should place law enforcement interests above other policy considerations such as the impact on foreign relations and the protection of intelligence sources and methods. To clarify policy on this matter the Commission recommends the President issue an Executive Order reaffirming transnational threats such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are national security matters. We concur with that recommendation.
/12/First, as indicated in Finding Two, the CS, as an
extension of its current role, is already the focal point for clandestine and related liaison activities for the IC. There is no such focal point within the law enforcement community: overseas the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Customs Service, and Secret Service operate independently and do not even share a single chain of command (the first two coming under the Department of Justice and the last two coming under the Department of the Treasury). Having the CS act as the focal point for coordination avoids reopening interagency rivalries for primacy within the law enforcement community. Secondly, the scope of liaison and clandestine activities undertaken by the CS will almost always eclipse in number and magnitude those of the law enforcement agencies overseas. It is easier to keep the CS COS informed as necessary on law enforcement activities than to have a designated law enforcement official have to keep track of the CS's activities. Finally, it is a central responsibility of the CS to monitor the local counterintelligence and operational environment overseas. That knowledge makes it the most appropriate organization to act responsibly in providing expert operational guidance, if necessary, on the conduct of activities made known to it.
/13/Washington Post, 27 December 1995. /14/Note, however, that for most tasking and requirements
the CS should be dependent upon a Community-wide collection management mechanism that factors in the capabilities, costs, and relative merits of all collection techniques.
/15/For the CS, the only significant problem could be the
unnecessary compromise of the principle of "need to know," that is, compartmentation of sources and methods. This would appear to be manageable if the partnership is done on a case-by-case basis. The most frequently cited problem with partnership for the analysts is in maintaining the objectivity of analysis. That is an issue beyond the purview of this study, but, again, with vigilance and attention, it would appear to be manageable.
/16/See the IC21 study on Intelligence Centers for more on
the benefits (and problems) involved in the development and operation of organizations merging analytic, collection, and (in many cases) policy and covert action functions.
/17/"Targeting" has become something of a term of art in
clandestine operations. Success in clandestine operations is dependent on planning as well as serendipity. Targeting is meant to maximize the advantages of planning so as to be able to recruit fewer but better placed agents. All-source research is the starting point for this process, as, for example, in developing an encyclopedic database and study of a hostile nation's nuclear weapons program and personnel. The DO has found DI officers to be irreplaceable in helping with such work.
/18/Obviously, there are some administrative functions that
cannot be carried out efficiently within an organization as small as the clandestine service and for which economies and efficiencies of scale can be found by keeping them part of the CIA or in the Infrastructure Support Office (see Intelligence Community Management staff study).
/19/In cases where the Director of the CS's professional
judgment may be an issue, the DCI should have the option of himself choosing the membership of a Special PRB.
/20/In DoD, the investigations and deliberations of panels
are not transparent to the IG. Indeed, there is no regular sharing of findings with the IG, except when the panel believes it has uncovered possibly fraudulent or criminal activity.
/21/The IC21 Intelligence Centers staff study, proposes that
this Center remain within the CS performing the same functions it does at present.
/22/It is unfortunate that the ADDO/MA position and office
were abolished in 1995 and the responsibilities divided between several new positions as part of the DO restructuring. Characteristically, this was done without consultation with the military consumers who, so far as we have been able to learn, had been extremely pleased with support from the ADDO/MA and his office.
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