Pro Academia Help

Covert Action And Intelligence

Choose a covert operation from those listed in chapter 2 and refer to the ProQuest Guide listed in the resources above. 

Activity Instructions
Write an essay and analyze the operation you chose according to the categories listed on pages 20 and 21, technology, secrecy, oversight, and managing the community. How does the operation fit with the descriptions of the text and relate to the working concept of intelligence on page 10 in chapter 1? 

Writing Requirements (APA format)

  • 2-3 pages (approx. 300 words per page), not including title page or references page
  • 1-inch margins
  • Double spaced
  • 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Title page with topic and name of student
  • References page

Grading and Assessment
This activity will be graded based on the Written Analysis Grading Rubric.

Learning Outcome(s): 6
6.   Identify and explain the intelligence cycle and apply the cycle to various situations. 


Seventh Edition




From Secrets to Policy

Seventh Edition

Mark M. Lowenthal



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Names: Lowenthal, Mark M.

Title: Intelligence : from secrets to policy / Mark M. Lowenthal.

Description: Seventh edition. | Los Angeles : CQ Press, [2017] | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016030817| ISBN 978-1-5063-4256-6

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Michael S. Freeman


Historian, Librarian, Friend


My Parents



Tables, Figures, and Boxes Preface Acronyms Chapter 1. What Is “Intelligence”?

Why Have Intelligence Agencies? What Is Intelligence About? Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 2. The Development of U.S. Intelligence Major Themes Major Historical Developments Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 3. The U.S. Intelligence Community Alternative Ways of Looking at the Intelligence Community The Many Different Intelligence Communities Intelligence Community Relationships That Matter The Intelligence Budget Process Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 4. The Intelligence Process—A Macro Look: Who Does What for Whom? Requirements Collection Processing and Exploitation Analysis and Production Dissemination and Consumption Feedback Thinking About the Intelligence Process Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 5. Collection and the Collection Disciplines Overarching Themes Strengths and Weaknesses Conclusion Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 6. Analysis Major Themes Analytical Issues


Intelligence Analysis: An Assessment Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 7. Counterintelligence Internal Safeguards External Indicators and Counterespionage Problems in Counterintelligence Leaks Economic Espionage National Security Letters Conclusion Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 8. Covert Action The Decision-Making Process The Range of Covert Actions Issues in Covert Action Assessing Covert Action Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 9. The Role of the Policy Maker The U.S. National Security Policy Process Who Wants What? The Intelligence Process: Policy and Intelligence Key Term Further Readings

Chapter 10. Oversight and Accountability Executive Oversight Issues Congressional Oversight Issues in Congressional Oversight Internal Dynamics of Congressional Oversight The Courts Conclusion Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 11. The Intelligence Agenda: Nation-States The Primacy of the Soviet Issue The Emphasis on Soviet Military Capabilities The Emphasis on Statistical Intelligence The “Comfort” of a Bilateral Relationship Collapse of the Soviet Union Intelligence and the Soviet Problem


The Current Nation-State Issue Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 12. The Intelligence Agenda: Transnational Issues U.S. National Security Policy and Intelligence After the Cold War Intelligence and the New Priorities Cyberspace Terrorism Proliferation Narcotics Economics Demographics Health and the Environment Peacekeeping Operations Support to the Military Conclusion Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 13. Ethical and Moral Issues in Intelligence General Moral Questions Issues Related to Collection and Covert Action Analysis-Related Issues Oversight-Related Issues Whistle-Blowers The Media Conclusion Further Readings

Chapter 14. Intelligence Reform The Purpose of Reform Issues in Intelligence Reform Conclusion Key Terms Further Readings

Chapter 15. Foreign Intelligence Services Britain China France Israel Russia Other Services Other Services in Brief Conclusion


Further Readings Appendix 1. Additional Bibliographic Citations and Websites Appendix 2. Major Intelligence Reviews or Proposals Author Index Subject Index


Tables, Figures, and Boxes


5.1 A Comparison of the Collection Disciplines 156 10.1 U.S. Intelligence Budget, 2007–2014 331



3.1 The Intelligence Community: An Organizational View 45 3.2 Alternative Ways of Looking at the Intelligence Community: A Functional Flow View 46 3.3 Alternative Ways of Looking at the Intelligence Community: A Functional View 50 3.4 Alternative Ways of Looking at the Intelligence Community: A Budgetary View 69 3.5 The Intelligence Budget: Four Phases Over Three Years 70 4.1 Intelligence Requirements: Importance Versus Likelihood 80 4.2 The Intelligence Process: A Central Intelligence Agency View 88 4.3 The Intelligence Process: A Schematic 88 4.4 The Intelligence Process: Multilayered 89 5.1 Intelligence Collection: The Composition of the INTs 155 8.1 The Covert Action Ladder 257



The Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001: Another Pearl Harbor? 3 Policy Versus Intelligence: The Great Divide 6 “And ye shall know the truth . . . ” 8 Intelligence: A Working Concept 10 The Simplicity of Intelligence 47 Eight Simultaneous Budgets 67 Why Classify? 100 The Need for Photo Interpreters 116 Does GEOINT Have to Be an Image? 117 SIGINT Versus IMINT 127 Some Intelligence Humor 149 Metaphors for Thinking About Analysis 188 How Right How Often 210 Who Spies on Whom? 222 Why Spy? 226 Assassination: The Hitler Argument 268 The Assassination Ban: A Modern Interpretation 269 Policy Makers and Intelligence Collection 290 Intelligence Uncertainties and Policy 291 The Limits of Intelligence and Policy: Hurricane Katrina 292 Setting the Right Expectations 293 A Linguistic Aside: The Two Meanings of Oversight 304 Congressional Humor: Authorizers Versus Appropriators 314 Intelligence Budget Disclosure: Top or Bottom? 328 Iraq’s Nuclear Program: A Cautionary Tale 414 Analysts’ Options: A Cultural Difference 455



In years past, when academics who taught courses on intelligence got together, one of the first questions they asked one another was, “What are you using for readings?” They asked because there was no standard text on intelligence. Available books were either general histories that did not suffice as course texts or academic discussions written largely for practitioners and aficionados, not for undergraduate or graduate students. Like many of my colleagues, I had long felt the need for an introductory text. I wrote the first edition of this book in 2000 to fill this gap in intelligence literature.

Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy is not a how-to book: It will not turn readers into competent spies or even better analysts. Rather, it is designed to give readers a firm understanding of the role that intelligence plays in making national security policy and insight into its strengths and weaknesses. The main theme of the book is that intelligence serves and is subservient to policy and that it works best—analytically and operationally— when tied to clearly understood policy goals.

The book has a U.S.-centric bias. I am most familiar with the U.S. intelligence establishment, and it is the largest, richest, and most multifaceted intelligence enterprise in the world. At the same time, readers with interests beyond the United States should derive from this book a better understanding of many basic issues in intelligence collection, analysis, and covert action and of the relationship of intelligence to policy.

This volume begins with a discussion of the definition of intelligence and a brief history and overview of the U.S. intelligence community. The core of the book is organized along the lines of the intelligence process as practiced by most intelligence enterprises: requirements, collection, analysis, dissemination, and policy. Each aspect is discussed in detail in terms of its role, strengths, and problems. The book’s structure allows the reader to understand the overall intelligence process and the specific issues encountered in each step of the process. The book examines covert action and counterintelligence in a similar vein. Three chapters explore the issues facing U.S. intelligence in terms of both nation-states and transnational issues and the moral and ethical issues that arise in intelligence. The book also covers intelligence reform and foreign intelligence services.

Intelligence has grown primarily out of courses that I have taught for many years: “The Role of Intelligence in U.S. Foreign Policy,” at the School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University from 1994 to 2007; “Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy,” at the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University since 2008; and “U.S. Intelligence” at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), beginning in 2015. As I tell my students, I provide neither a polemic against intelligence nor an apology for it. This volume takes the view that intelligence is a normal function of government:


Sometimes it works well; sometimes it does not. Any intelligence service, including that of the United States, can rightly be the recipient of both praise and criticism. My goal is to raise important issues and to illuminate the debate over them, as well as to provide context for the debate. I leave it to professors and students to come to their own conclusions. As an introduction to the subject of intelligence, the book, I believe, takes the correct approach in not asking readers to agree with the author’s views.

As an introductory text, the book is not meant to be the last word on the subject. It is intended instead as a starting point for a serious academic exploration of the issues inherent in intelligence. Each chapter concludes with a list of readings recommended for a deeper examination of relevant issues. Additional bibliographic citations and websites are provided in Appendix 1. Appendix 2 lists some of the most important reviews and proposals for change in the U.S. intelligence community since 1945.

This is the seventh edition of Intelligence. The major changes in each edition reflect the changes that have confronted the intelligence community since 2000. The second edition added material about the September 11 attacks and the beginning of the war on terrorists. The third edition covered the investigations into the September 11 attacks, the Iraq weapons of mass destruction (WMD) estimate and its aftermath, and the creation of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the most substantial change in U.S. intelligence since 1947. The fourth edition reflected several new areas: the actual implementation of the DNI reforms and their successes and strains; the ongoing legal, operational, and ethical issues raised by the war against terrorists; the growth of such transnational issues as WMD; and the growing politicization of intelligence in the United States, especially through the declassified use of national intelligence estimates (NIEs). In the fifth edition, many of the issues raised by the war against terrorists continued to be at issue as did the management of the overall community and the role of the DNI. At the same time, new issues such as cyberspace were more prominent. The sixth edition reflected an ongoing shift in U.S. intelligence priorities, as policy makers begin to de-emphasize terrorism to a degree, and the widespread repercussions of the Manning and Snowden leaks. This leaked intelligence remains and should be considered classified, despite the fact that it has been leaked. Therefore, I cannot discuss the details of some of these leaks or comment on their veracity unless there are official comments on the subject.

In the seventh edition, in addition to reassessing the still evolving cyberspace issue, including the issue of cyber as a new collection discipline, several major events have important intelligence implications: the Senate Intelligence Committee’s staff report on enhanced interrogation techniques, which has important implications for operations and for congressional oversight; the rise of the Islamic State, which is more than a terrorist group but less than a state; and the nuclear agreement with Iran. New sections have been added offering a brief summary of the major laws governing U.S. intelligence; domestic intelligence collection; a discussion of whistle-blowers, as opposed to leakers; and the growing field of financial intelligence. The chapter on foreign intelligence services has been


extensively revised. The bibliographies have been updated; wherever possible, I have added World Wide Web links for ease of access.

Given the dynamic nature of intelligence, any textbook on the subject runs the risk of containing dated information. This may be an even greater problem here, given the fluid situation created by the leaks and the overall international situation. This replicates the intelligence analyst’s dilemma of needing to produce finished intelligence during changing circumstances. The risk cannot be avoided. However, I am confident that most aspects of intelligence—and certainly the main issues discussed—are more general, more long- standing, and less susceptible to being outdated rapidly than the ever-changing character of intelligence might suggest.

All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Office of the DNI or any other U.S. government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. government authentication of information or DNI endorsement of the author’s views. This material has been reviewed by the intelligence community to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

Several words of thanks are in order: first, to my wife, Cynthia, and our children—Sarah and Adam—who have supported my part-time academic career despite the missed dinners it means. Cynthia also has been immensely supportive during the entire lengthy revision process. Next, thanks go to three friends and colleagues—the late Sam Halpern, Loch Johnson, and Jennifer Sims—who reviewed early drafts and made substantial improvements. The following scholars also provided extremely helpful comments for the previous editions: William Green, California State University at San Bernardino; Patrick Morgan, University of California, Irvine; Donald Snow, University of Alabama; James D. Calder, University of Texas at San Antonio; and Robert Pringle, University of Kentucky. Anthony Spadaro and Jim Barnett provided me and many other colleagues with a constant stream of updated articles across the range of intelligence issues. Hayden Peake kept me apprised of new books and articles on foreign intelligence services. Jason Healey provided useful comment and discussion about intelligence and cyberspace. None of these individuals is responsible for any remaining flaws or any of the views expressed. I would also like to thank the reviewers for the sixth and previous editions: L. Larry Boothe, Utah State University; Matthew Donald, Ohio State University; John Syer, California State University, Sacramento; John Comiskey, Monmouth University; Peter Hickman, Arizona State University; Paul M. Johnson, Auburn University; Michael Bogart, University of Maryland University College; Alan More, Notre Dame College; Michael Siler, California State University; Peter Olesen, University of Maryland University College; Loch Johnson, University of Georgia; Gary Kessler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Greg Moore, Notre Dame College; and James Calder and Glen Schaffer, University of Texas–San Antonio. Moreover, I have been most fortunate to collaborate with the following at CQ Press: Carrie Brandon, senior acquisitions editor; Duncan Marchbank, editorial assistant;


David Felts, production editor; and Jared Leighton, copy editor. Working with them has been most enjoyable. Thanks to Space Imaging, Inc., for supplying the series of overhead images of San Diego.

As I have in past editions, I continue to thank all of my colleagues across the intelligence community for all they have taught me and for their dedication to their work. Finally, thanks to all of my students over the years, whose comments and discussions have greatly enriched my courses and this book. Again, I am solely responsible for any shortcomings in this volume.

Mark M. Lowenthal

Reston, Virginia



ABI Activity-based intelligence ABM Antiballistic missile ACH Alternative competing hypothesis ADDNI Assistant deputy director of national intelligence AGI Advanced geospatial intelligence AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee Aman Agaf ha-Modi’in (Military Intelligence) (Israel) AOR Area of responsibility ARC Analytic Resources Catalog ASAT Anti-satellite ASIO Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation ASIS Australian Secret Intelligence Service BDA Battle damage assessment BfV Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) (Germany) BND Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) (Germany) BW Biological weapons CBW Chemical and biological weapons CCP Consolidated Cryptologic Program CDA Congressionally directed action CEO Chief executive officer CESG Communications Electronics Security Group (Britain) CI Counterintelligence CIA Central Intelligence Agency CIARDS CIA Retirement and Disability System CIC Counterintelligence Center CIG Central Intelligence Group CISEN Center for Investigation and National Security (Mexico) CMA Community Management Account CMC Central Military Commission (China) CNA Computer network attack CNC Counternarcotics Center CNE Computer network exploitation CNI National Intelligence Center (Mexico) CNR (1) coordonnateur national du renseignement (national intelligence coordinator); (2) conseil national du renseignement (national intelligence council) (both France)


COCOM Combatant Command COI Coordinator of Information COIN Counterinsurgency COMINT Communications intelligence COO Chief operating officer COS Chief of station CRS Congressional Research Service CSE Communications Security Establishment (Canada) CSIS Canada’s Security Intelligence Service CSRS Counter Surveillance Reconnaissance System CTC Counterterrorism Center CT Counterterrorism CW Chemical weapons D&D Denial and deception DARP Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Program DBA Dominant battlefield awareness DC Deputies Committee (NSC) DCI Director of central intelligence DCIA Director of the Central Intelligence Agency DCP Defense Cryptologic Program DCRI Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (France) DCS Defense Clandestine Service DEA Drug Enforcement Administration DGIAP Defense General Intelligence Applications Program DGSE Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (General Directorate for External Security) (France) DHS Department of Homeland Security DI Directorate of Intelligence DIA Defense Intelligence Agency DICP Defense Intelligence Counterdrug Program DIS Defence Intelligence Staff (Britain) DISTP Defense Intelligence Special Technologies Program DITP Defense Intelligence Tactical Program DMZ Demilitarized zone DNI Director of national intelligence DO Directorate of Operations (CIA) DOD Department of Defense DOE Department of Energy DPSD Directoire de la Protection et de la Sécurité de la Défense (Directorate for Defense Protection and Security) (France) DRM Directoire du Renseignement Militaire (Directorate of Military Intelligence) (France)


DS&T Directorate of Science and Technology (CIA) DSRP Defense Space Reconnaissance Program ELINT Electronic intelligence EO Electro-optical; Executive order EOD Entry on duty EU European Union ExCom Executive Committee FAPSI Federalnoe Agenstvo Pravitelstvennoi Svyazi I Informatsii (Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information) (Russia) FARC Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (Colombia) FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation FBIS Foreign Broadcast Information Service FIA Future Imagery Architecture FININT Financial intelligence FISA Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISC Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court FISINT Foreign instrumentation intelligence FMV Full motion video FSB Federal’naya Sluzba Besnopasnoti (Federal Security Service) (Russia) GAO Government Accountability Office GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters (Britain) GEO Geosynchronous orbit GDIP General Defense Intelligence Program GDP Gross domestic product GEOINT Geospatial intelligence GNP Gross national product GRU Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie (Main Intelligence Administration) (Russia) HEO Highly elliptical orbit HPSCI House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence HSI Hyperspectral imagery HSINT Homeland security intelligence HSIP Homeland Security Intelligence Program HUMINT Human intelligence I&A Intelligence and Analysis I&W Indications and warning IAEA International Agency for Atomic Energy IC Intelligence community IG Inspector general IMINT Imagery (or photo) intelligence INF Intermediate nuclear forces INR Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Department of State)


INTs Collection disciplines (HUMINT, GEOINT, MASINT, OSINT, SIGINT) IR Infrared imagery IRA Irish Republican Army IRGC Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps IRTPA Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act ISC Intelligence and Security Committee (Britain) ISID Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (Pakistan) (usually called ISI) ISG Iraq Survey Group ISR Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance IT Information technology JCS Joint Chiefs of Staff JIC Joint Intelligence Committee (Britain) JICC Joint Intelligence Community Council JIO Joint Intelligence Organisation (Britain) JIOC Joint Intelligence Operations Center JMIP Joint Military Intelligence Program JTAC Joint Terrorism Analysis Center (Britain) JTTF Joint Terrorism Task Force KGB Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti (Committee of State Security) (Russia) KJs Key Judgments LEO Low earth orbit MAD Mutual assured destruction MASINT Measurement and signatures intelligence MEO Medium earth orbit MI5 Security Service (Britain) MI6 Secret Intelligence Service (Britain) MIP Military Intelligence Program MOIS Ministry of Intelligence and Security (Iran) MON Memo of notification Mossad Ha-Mossad Le-Modin Ule Tafkidim Meyuhadim (Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks) (Israel) MSI Multispectral imagery NAB National Assessment Bureau (New Zealand) NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NCPC National Counterproliferation Center NCS National Clandestine Service NCSC National Counterintelligence and Security Center NCTC (1) National Counterterrorism Center; (2) National Counter-Terrorism Committee (Australia) NFIP National Foreign Intelligence Program NGA National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency


NIA National Intelligence Agency (South Africa) NIC National Intelligence Council NIE National intelligence estimate NIM National intelligence manager NIMA National Imagery and Mapping Agency NIO National intelligence officer NIP National Intelligence Program NIPF National Intelligence Priorities Framework NOC Nonofficial cover NRO National Reconnaissance Office NRP National Reconnaissance Program NSA National Security Agency NSC National Security Council NSL National security letters NTM National technical means NTRO National Technical Research Organization (India) OCO Overseas contingency operations ODNI Office of the Director of National Intelligence OMB Office of Management and Budget ONA Office of National Assessments (Australia) ORCON Originator controlled OSD Office of the Secretary of Defense OSE Open Source Enterprise OSINT Open-source intelligence OSS Office of Strategic Services P&E Processing and exploitation PC Principals Committee (NSC) PCLOB Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board PCO Privy Council Office (Canada) PDB President’s Daily Brief PFIAB President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board PFLP Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PHIA Professional head of intelligence analysis (Britain) PHOTINT Photo intelligence PIAB President’s Intelligence Advisory Board PIOB President’s Intelligence Oversight Board PIPs Presidential Intelligence Priorities QFR Question for the record RAW Research and Analysis Wing (India) RMA Revolution in military affairs S&T Science and technology SAC (1) Special agent in charge (FBI); (2) Strategic Air Command (now called


STRATCOM) SALT Strategic arms limitation talks SAM Surface-to-air missile SARS Severe acute respiratory syndrome SAS Special Air Service (Britain) SBS Special Boat Service (Britain) SBSS Space-based surveillance satellite SCIFs Sensitive compartmented information facilities SDI Strategic Defense Initiative SGAC Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Shin Bet Sherut ha-Bitachon ha-Klali (General Security Service) (Israel) SIGINT Signals intelligence SIS Secret Intelligence Service (Britain) SMO Support to military operations SNIE Special national intelligence estimate SOCOM Special Operations Command SPA Special political action SRA Systems and Research Analyses SSCI Senate Select Committee on Intelligence START Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty STRATCOM Strategic Forces Command SVR Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki (External Intelligence Service) (Russia) SWIFT Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications TacSat Tactical satellite TECHINT Technical intelligence TELINT Telemetry intelligence TIARA Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities TOR Terms of reference TPEDs Tasking, processing, exploitation, and dissemination TUAVs Tactical unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs Unmanned aerial vehicles UCR Unanimous consent request UIS Unifying intelligence strategies UN United Nations UNSCOM United Nations Special Commission USDI Undersecretary of defense for intelligence VoIP Voice-over-Internet Protocol WIRe Worldwide Intelligence Review WMD Weapons of mass destruction


Chapter One What Is “Intelligence”?

What is intelligence? Why is its definition an issue? Virtually every book written on the subject of intelligence begins with a discussion of what “intelligence” means, or at least how the author intends to use the term. This editorial fact reveals much about the field of intelligence. If this were a text on any other government function—defense, housing, transportation, diplomacy, agriculture—there would be little or no confusion about, or need to explain, what was being discussed.

Intelligence is different from other government functions for at least two reasons. First, much of what goes on is secret. Intelligence exists because governments seek to hide some information from other governments, who, in turn, seek to discover hidden information by means that they wish to keep secret. All of this secrecy leads some authors to believe that issues exist about which they cannot write or may not have sufficient knowledge. Thus, they feel the need to describe the limits of their work. Although numerous aspects of intelligence are—and deserve to be—kept secret, this is not an impediment to describing basic roles, processes, functions, and issues.

Second, this same secrecy can be a source of consternation to citizens, especially in a democratic country such as the United States. The U.S. intelligence community is a relatively recent government phenomenon. Since its creation in 1947, the intelligence community has been the subject of much ambivalence. Some Americans are uncomfortable with the concept that intelligence is a secret entity within an ostensibly open government based on checks and balances. Moreover, the intelligence community engages in activities —spying, eavesdropping, covert action—that some people regard as antithetical to what they believe the United States should be as a nation and as a model for other nations. Some citizens have difficulty reconciling American ideals and goals with the realities of intelligence.

To many people, intelligence seems little different from information, except that it is probably secret. However, distinguishing between the two is important. Information is anything that can be known, regardless of how it is discovered. Intelligence refers to information that meets the stated or understood needs of policy makers and has been collected, processed, and narrowed to meet those needs. Intelligence is a subset of the broader category of information. Intelligence and the entire process by which it is identified, obtained, and analyzed responds to the needs of policy makers. All intelligence is information; not all information is intelligence.


Why Have Intelligence Agencies?

The major theme of this book is that intelligence exists solely to support policy makers in myriad ways. Any other activity is either wasteful or illegal. The book’s focus is firmly on the relationship between intelligence, in all of its aspects, and policy making. The policy maker is not a passive recipient of intelligence but actively influences all aspects of intelligence. (This concept of the policy maker–intelligence relationship would also be true for business as well as government. The focus in this book is on governments.)

Intelligence agencies exist for at least four major reasons: to avoid strategic surprise; to provide long-term expertise; to support the policy process; and to maintain the secrecy of information, needs, and methods.

To Avoid Strategic Surprise.

The foremost goal of any intelligence community must be to keep track of threats, forces, events, and developments that are capable of endangering the nation’s existence. This goal may sound grandiose and far-fetched, but several times over the past 112 years, nations have been subjected to direct military attacks for which they were, at best, inadequately prepared—Russia was surprised by Japan in 1904, both the Soviet Union (by Germany) and the United States (by Japan) in 1941, and Israel (by Egypt and Syria) in 1973. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States are another example of this pattern, albeit carried out on a much more limited scale. (See box, “The Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001: Another Pearl Harbor?”)

Strategic surprise should not be confused with tactical surprise, which is of a different magnitude and, as Professor Richard Betts of Columbia University pointed out in his article, “Analysis, War, and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures Are Inevitable,” cannot be wholly avoided. To put the difference between the two types of surprise in perspective, suppose, for example, that Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones are business partners. Every Friday, while Mr. Smith is lunching with a client, Mr. Jones helps himself to money from the petty cash. One afternoon Mr. Smith comes back from lunch earlier than expected, catching Mr. Jones red-handed. “I’m surprised!” they exclaim simultaneously. Mr. Jones’s surprise is tactical: He knew what he was doing but did not expect to get caught; Mr. Smith’s surprise is strategic: He had no idea the embezzlement was happening.

Tactical surprise, when it happens, is not of sufficient magnitude and importance to threaten national existence, although it can be psychologically devastating. To some extent, the 9/11 attacks were tactical surprises. Repetitive tactical surprise, however, suggests some significant intelligence problems.


The Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001: Another Pearl Harbor? Many people immediately described the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon as a “new Pearl Harbor.” This is understandable on an emotional level, as both were surprise attacks. However, important differences exist.

First, Pearl Harbor was a strategic surprise. U.S. policy makers expected a move by Japan but not against the United States. The Soviet Union was seen as a possible target, but the greatest expectation and fear was a Japanese attack on European colonies in Southeast Asia that by passed U.S. possessions, thus allowing Japan to continue to expand its empire without bringing the United States into the war.

The terrorist attacks were more of a tactical surprise. The enmity of Osama bin Laden and his willingness to attack U.S. targets had been amply demonstrated in earlier attacks on the East African embassies and on the USS Cole. Throughout the summer of 2001, U.S. intelligence officials had warned of the likelihood of another bin Laden attack. What was not known—or guessed—were the target and the means of attack.

Second, Japan and the Axis powers had the capability to defeat and destroy U.S. power and the U.S. way of life. The terrorists do not pose a threat on the same level.

To Provide Long-Term Expertise.

Compared with the permanent bureaucracy, all senior policy makers are transients. The average time in office for a president of the United States is five years. Secretaries of state and defense serve for less time than that, and their senior subordinates—deputy, under, and assistant secretaries—often hold their positions for even shorter periods. Although these individuals usually enter their respective offices with an extensive background in their fields, it is virtually impossible for them to be well versed in all of the matters with which they will be dealing. Inevitably, they will have to call upon others whose knowledge and expertise on certain issues are greater. Much knowledge and expertise on national security issues reside in the intelligence community, where the analytical cadre is more stable than the political office holders. (This has changed in the United States since 2001. See chap. 6.) Stability tends to be greater in intelligence agencies, particularly in higher-level positions, than in foreign affairs and defense agencies. Also, intelligence agencies tend to have far fewer political appointees than do the State and Defense Departments. However, these two personnel differences (stability and nonpolitical) have diminished somewhat over the past decade. As will be discussed later, the senior position in U.S. intelligence, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), had been extremely volatile, with four DNIs in the first five years (2005–2010). Gen. James Clapper, who was appointed in 2010, has offered some continuity by remaining in the position longer than all of his predecessors combined.

To Support the Policy Process.

Policy makers have a constant need for tailored (meaning written for their specific needs), timely intelligence that will provide background, context, information, warning, and an


assessment of risks, benefits, and likely outcomes. Policy makers also occasionally need alternative means to achieve specific policy ends. Both of these needs are met by the intelligence community.

In the ethos of U.S. intelligence, a strict dividing line exists between intelligence and policy. The two are seen as separate functions. The government is run by the policy makers. Intelligence has a support role and may not cross over into the advocacy of policy choices. Intelligence officers who are dealing with policy makers are expected to maintain professional objectivity and not push specific policies, choices, or outcomes. To do so is seen as threatening the objectivity of the analyses they present. If intelligence officers have a strong preference for a specific policy outcome, their intelligence analysis may display a similar bias. This is what is meant by politicized intelligence, one of the strongest expressions of opprobrium that can be leveled in the U.S. intelligence community. This is not to suggest that intelligence officers do not have preferences about policy choices. They do. However, they are trained not to allow these preferences to influence their intelligence analysis. If intelligence officers were allowed to make policy recommendations, they would then have a strong urge to present intelligence that supported the policy they had first recommended. At that point, all objectivity would be lost.

Three important caveats should be added to the distinction between policy and intelligence. First, the idea that intelligence is distinct from policy does not mean that intelligence officers do not care about the outcome and do not influence it. One must differentiate between attempting to influence (that is, inform) the process by providing intelligence, which is acceptable, and trying to manipulate intelligence so that policy makers make a certain choice, which is not acceptable. Second, senior policy makers can and do ask senior intelligence officials for their opinions, which are given. Third, this separation works in only one direction, that of intelligence advice to policy. Nothing prevents policy makers from rejecting intelligence out of hand or offering their own analytic inputs. When doing so, however, policy makers cannot present their alternative views as intelligence per se, in part because they lack the necessary objectivity. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, but there is an unwritten and generally agreed standard. This became an issue in 2002, when Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith created an office that, to many observers, appeared to offer alternative intelligence analyses even though it was in a policy branch. Assuming that policy makers stay within their bounds, they will likely see their offering alternative views as being different from imposing their views on the intelligence product per se. This would also politicize intelligence, which is an accusation policy makers as well as intelligence officials hope to avoid, because it calls into question the soundness of their policy and the basis on which they have made decisions. The propriety of a policy maker rejecting intelligence was central to the 2005 debate over the nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Critics charged that Bolton, as undersecretary of state, had engaged in this type of action when intelligence did not provide the answers he preferred. (See box, “Policy Versus


Intelligence: The Great Divide.”)

To Maintain the Secrecy of Information, Needs, and Methods.

Secrecy does make intelligence unique. That others would keep important information from you, that you need certain types of information and wish to keep your needs secret, and that you have the means to obtain information that you also wish to keep secret are major reasons for having intelligence agencies.


Policy Versus Intelligence: The Great Divide One way to envision the distinction between policy and intelligence is to see them as two spheres of government activity that are separated by a semipermeable membrane. The membrane is semipermeable because policy makers can and do cross over into the intelligence sphere, but intelligence officials cannot cross over into the policy sphere.


What Is Intelligence About?

The word “intelligence” largely refers to issues related to national security—that is, defense and foreign policy and certain aspects of homeland and internal security, which has been increasingly important since the terrorist attacks of 2001. In U.S. law (the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act, 2004) all intelligence is now defined as national intelligence, which has three subsets: foreign, domestic, and homeland security. This specification was written to overcome the past divide between foreign and domestic intelligence, which had come to be seen as an impediment to intelligence sharing, especially on issues like terrorism, which overlaps both areas. It is important to note that practitioners are experiencing some difficulty distinguishing among homeland, internal, and domestic security.

The actions, policies, and capabilities of other nations and of important non-state groups (international organizations, terrorist organizations, and so on) are primary areas of concern. But policy makers and intelligence officers cannot restrict themselves to thinking only about enemies—those powers that are known to be hostile or whose policy goals are in some way inimical. They must also keep track of powers that are neutrals, friends, or even allies who are rivals in certain contexts. For example, the European Union is made up largely of nations that are U.S. allies. However, the United States competes with many of them for global resources and markets, so in that sense they are rivals. This type of relationship with the United States is also true of Japan and South Korea. Furthermore, circumstances may arise in which a country would need to keep track of the actions and intentions of friends. For example, an ally might be pursuing a course that could involve it in conflict with a third party. Should this not be to a country’s liking—or should it threaten to involve that country as well—it would be better to know early on what this ally was doing. Adolf Hitler, for example, might have been better served had he known in advance of Japan’s plans to attack the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941. He had no interest in seeing the United States become an active combatant and might have argued against a direct attack by Japan (as opposed to a Japanese attack to the south against European colonies but avoiding U.S. territories). In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries it has become increasingly important for the United States to keep track of non- state actors—terrorists, narcotics traffickers, freelance proliferators, and others.

Information is needed about these actors, their intentions, their likely actions, and their capabilities in a variety of areas, including economic, military, and societal. The United States built its intelligence organizations in recognition of the fact that some of the information it would like to have is either inaccessible or being actively denied. In other words, the information is secret as far as the United States is concerned, and those who have the information would like to keep it that way.


The pursuit of secret information is the mainstay of intelligence activity. At the same time, reflecting the political transformation brought about by the end of the cold war, increasing amounts of once secret information are now accessible, especially in states that were satellites of or allied with the Soviet Union. The ratio of open to secret information has shifted dramatically. One former senior intelligence official estimated that during the cold war, 80 percent of the intelligence the U.S. needed was secret, and 20 percent was open, but in the post–cold war world, those ratios had reversed. Still, foreign states and actors harbor secrets that the United States must pursue. And not all of this intelligence is in states that are hostile to the United States in the sense that they are enemies.

Most people tend to think of intelligence in terms of military information—troop movements, weapons capabilities, and plans for surprise attack. This is an important component of intelligence (in line with avoiding surprise attack, the first reason for having intelligence agencies), but it is not the only one. Many different kinds of intelligence (political, economic, social, environmental, health, and cultural) provide important inputs to analysts. Policy makers and intelligence officials must think beyond foreign intelligence. They must consider intelligence activities focused on threats to internal security, such as subversion, espionage, and terrorism.

Other than the internal security threats, domestic intelligence, at least in the United States and kindred democracies, had been treated as a law enforcement issue, although this has become an issue of contention in the United States when it comes to terrorism and the treatment of potential terrorists. However, this nexus between domestic intelligence and law enforcement differentiates the practice of intelligence in Western democracies from that in totalitarian states. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ State Security Committee (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, or KGB), for example, served a crucial internal secret police function that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) does not. Thus, in many respects, the two agencies were not comparable.


“And ye shall know the truth . . .” Upon entering the old entrance of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, one will find the following inscription on the left-hand marble wall:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.


It is a nice sentiment, but it overstates and misrepresents what is going on in that building or any other intelligence agency.

What is intelligence not about? Intelligence is not about truth. If something were known to be true—or false—states would not need intelligence agencies to collect the information or analyze it. Truth is such an absolute term that it sets a standard that intelligence rarely would be able to achieve. It is better—and more accurate—to think of intelligence as proximate reality. Intelligence agencies face issues or questions and do their best to arrive at a firm understanding of what is going on. They can rarely be assured that even their best and most considered analysis is true. Their goals are intelligence products that are reliable, unbiased, and honest (that is, free from politicization). These are all laudable goals, yet they are still different from truth. (See box, “And ye shall know the truth . . .”)

Is intelligence integral to the policy process? The question may seem rhetorical in a book about intelligence, but it is important to consider. At one level, the answer is yes. Intelligence should and can provide warning about imminent strategic threats, although, as noted, several nations have been subjected to strategic surprise. Intelligence officials can also play a useful role as seasoned and experienced advisers. The information their agencies gather is also of value given that it might not be available if agencies did not undertake secret collection. Therein lies an irony: Intelligence agencies strive to be more than just collectors of secret information. They emphasize the value that their analysis adds to the secret information, although equally competent analysts can be found in policy agencies. The difference is in the nature of the work and the outcomes for which the two types of analysts are responsible—intelligence versus policy decisions.

At the same time, intelligence suffers from a number of potential weaknesses that tend to undercut its function in the eyes of policy makers. Not all of these weaknesses are present at all times, and sometimes none is present. They still represent potential pitfalls.

First, a certain amount of intelligence analysis may be no more sophisticated than current conventional wisdom on a given issue. Conventional wisdom is usually—and sometimes mistakenly—dismissed out of hand. But policy makers expect more than that, in part justifiably.


Second, analysis can become so dependent on data that it misses important intangibles. For example, a competent analysis of the likelihood that thirteen small and somewhat disunited colonies would be able to break away from British rule in the 1770s would have likely concluded that defeat was inevitable. After all, Britain was the largest industrial power; it already had trained troops stationed in the colonies; colonial opinion was not united (nor was Britain’s); and Britain could use the Native Americans as an added force, among other reasons. A straightforward political–military analysis would have missed several factors—the strength of British divisiveness, the possibility of help from royalist France—that turned out to be of tremendous importance.

Third, mirror imaging, or assuming that other states or individuals will act just the way a particular country or person does, can undermine analysis. The basis of this problem is fairly understandable. Every day people make innumerable judgments—when driving, walking on a crowded street, or interacting with others at home and at the office—about how other people will react and behave. They assume that their behavior and reactions are based on the golden rule. These judgments stem from societal norms and rules, etiquette, and experience. Analysts too easily extend this commonplace thinking to intelligence issues. However, in intelligence it becomes a trap. For example, no U.S. policy maker in 1941 could conceive of Japan’s starting a war with the United States overtly (instead of continuing its advance while bypassing U.S. territories), given the great disparity in the strength of the two nations. In Tokyo, however, that same disparate strength argued compellingly for the necessity of starting war sooner rather than later. The other problem with mirror imaging is that it assumes a certain level of shared rationality. It leaves no room for the irrational actor, an individual or nation whose rationality is based on something different or unfamiliar—for example, suicidal terrorists viewed through the eyes of Western culture.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, policy makers are free to reject or to ignore the intelligence they are offered. They may suffer penalties down the road if their policy has bad outcomes, but policy makers cannot be forced to take heed of intelligence. Thus, they can dispense with intelligence at will, and intelligence officers cannot press their way (or their products) back into the process in such cases.

This host of weaknesses seems to overpower the positive aspects of intelligence. It certainly suggests and underscores the fragility of intelligence within the policy process. How, then, can it be determined whether intelligence matters? The best way, at least retrospectively, is to ask, Would policy makers have made different choices with or without a given piece of intelligence? If the answer is yes, or even maybe, then the intelligence mattered. The answer to this can still be elusive because much intelligence may not be related to a specific event or decision. Richard Kerr, a former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, reviewed fifty years of CIA analysis across a range of issues and concluded that, despite highs and lows of performance, intelligence helped reduce policy makers’ uncertainty and provided them with understanding and with warning on a fairly consistent basis. That should be seen as a


valuable service even if one admits that intelligence will not always be correct. (See box, “Intelligence: A Working Concept.”)


Intelligence: A Working Concept Intelligence is the process by which specific types of information important to national security are requested, collected, analyzed, and provided to policy makers; the products of that process; the safeguarding of these processes and this information by counterintelligence activities; and the carrying out of operations as requested by lawful authorities.

We return to the question: What is intelligence? Alan Breakspear, a veteran Canadian intelligence officer, defines intelligence as a capability to forecast changes—either positive or negative—in time to do something about them. We often tend to think about intelligence-related events in the negative. Breakspear’s addition of “positive” is important and is akin to “opportunity analysis.” (See chap 6.)

In this book, we will think about intelligence in several ways, sometimes simultaneously.

Intelligence as process: Intelligence can be thought of as the means by which certain types of information are required and requested, collected, analyzed, and disseminated, and as the way in which certain types of covert action are conceived and conducted. Intelligence as product: Intelligence can be thought of as the product of these processes—that is, as the analyses and intelligence operations themselves. Intelligence as organization: Intelligence can be thought of as the units that carry out its various functions.


Key Terms

intelligence mirror imaging national intelligence politicized intelligence


Further Readings

Each of these readings grapples with the definition of intelligence, either by function or by role, in a different way. Some deal with intelligence on its own terms; others attempt to relate it to the larger policy process.

Betts, Richard. “Analysis, War, and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures Are Inevitable.” World Politics 31 (October 1978). Reprinted in Power, Strategy, and Security. Ed. Klaus Knorr. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Breakspear, Alan. “Intelligence: The Unseen Instrument of Governance.” In Governance and Security as a Unitary Concept. Eds. Tom Rippon and Graham Kemp. Victoria, British Columbia: Agio, 2012.

Hamilton, Lee. “The Role of Intelligence in the Foreign Policy Process.” In Essays on Strategy and Diplomacy. Claremont, Calif.: Claremont College, Keck Center for International Strategic Studies, 1987.

Herman, Michael. Intelligence Power in Peace and War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Heymann, Hans. “Intelligence/Policy Relationships.” In Intelligence: Policy and Process. Ed. Alfred C. Maurer and others. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1985.

Hilsman, Roger. Strategic Intelligence and National Decisions. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1958.

Kent, Sherman. Strategic Intelligence for American Foreign Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949.

Kerr, Richard J. “The Track Record: CIA Analysis from 1950 to 2000.” In Analyzing Intelligence. Eds. Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2008.

Laqueur, Walter. A World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

Scott, Len, and Peter Jackson. “The Study of Intelligence in Theory and Practice.” Intelligence and National Security 19 (summer 2004): 139–169.

Shulsky, Abram N., and Gary J. Schmitt. Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence. 2d rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1993.


Shulsky, Abram N., and Jennifer Sims. What Is Intelligence? Washington, D.C.: Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, 1992.

Troy, Thomas F. “The ‘Correct’ Definition of Intelligence.” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 5 (winter 1991–1992): 433–454.

Warner, Michael. “Wanted: A Definition of Intelligence.” Studies in Intelligence 46 (2002): 15–23.


Chapter Two The Development of U.S. Intelligence

Each nation practices intelligence in ways that are specific—if not peculiar—to that nation alone. This is true even among countries that have a common heritage and share a great deal of their intelligence, such as Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. A better understanding of how and why the United States practices intelligence is important because the U.S. intelligence system remains the largest and most influential in the world—as model, rival, or target. (The practices of several foreign intelligence services are discussed in chap. 15.) Therefore, this chapter discusses the major themes and historical events that shaped the development of U.S. intelligence and helped determine how it continues to function.

The phrase “intelligence community” is used throughout the book as well as in most other discussions of U.S. intelligence. The word “community” is particularly apt in describing U.S. intelligence. The community is made up of agencies and offices whose work is often related and sometimes combined, but they serve different needs or different policy makers and work under various lines of authority and control. The intelligence community grew out of a set of evolving demands and without a master plan. It is highly functional and yet sometimes dysfunctional. One director of central intelligence (DCI), Richard Helms (1966–1973), testified before Congress that, despite all of the criticisms of the structure and functioning of the intelligence community, if one were to create it from scratch, much the same community would likely emerge. Helms’s focus was not on the structure of the community but on the services it provides, which are multiple, varied, and supervised by a number of individuals. This approach to intelligence is unique to the United States, although others have copied facets of it. The 2004 legislation that created a director of national intelligence (DNI; see chap. 3) made changes in the superstructure of the intelligence community but not to the functions of the various agencies.


Major Themes

A number of major themes contributed to the development of the U.S. intelligence system.

The Novelty of U.S. Intelligence.

Of the major powers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the United States has the briefest history of significant intelligence beyond wartime emergencies. The great Chinese military philosopher, Sun Tzu, wrote about the importance of intelligence in the fifth century BCE. British intelligence dates from the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603), French intelligence from the tenure of Cardinal Richelieu (1624–1642), and Russian intelligence from the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533–1584). Even given that the United States did not come into being until 1776, its intelligence experience is brief. The first glimmer of a national intelligence enterprise did not appear until 1940. Although permanent and specific naval and military intelligence units date from the late nineteenth century, a broader U.S. national intelligence capability began to arise only with the creation of the Coordinator of Information (COI) in 1940, the predecessor of the World War II–era Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

What explains this nearly 170-year absence of organized U.S. intelligence? For most of its history, the United States did not have strong foreign policy interests beyond its immediate borders. The success of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine (which stated that the United States would resist any European attempt to colonize in the Western Hemisphere), abetted by the acquiescence and tacit support of Britain, solved the basic security interests of the United States and its broader foreign policy interests. The need for better intelligence became apparent only after the United States achieved the status of a world power and became involved in wide-ranging international issues at the end of the nineteenth century.

Furthermore, the United States faced no threat to its security from its neighbors, from powers outside the Western Hemisphere, or—with the exception of the Civil War (1861– 1865)—from large-scale internal dissent that was inimical to its form of government. This benign environment, so unlike that faced by all European states, undercut any perceived need for national intelligence.

Until the cold war with the Soviet Union commenced in 1945, the United States severely limited expenditures on defense and related activities during peacetime. Intelligence, already underappreciated, fell into this category. (Historians have noted, however, that intelligence absorbed a remarkable and anomalous 12 percent of the federal budget under President George Washington. This was the high-water mark of intelligence spending in the federal budget, a percentage that was never approached again. In 2010, national intelligence accounted for roughly 2.3 percent of the federal budget—for a total intelligence budget of $80.1 billion, according to figures declassified by the director of national


intelligence. These data—which probably represent the peak for intelligence spending for many years to come—suggest that although there has been a great increase in intelligence spending in terms of dollars since the 2001 attacks, intelligence has not increased substantially as a national priority since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, going from 1.6 percent of the federal budget during the pre- and post-attack period and increasing slightly thereafter. In other words, intelligence spending has increased as has the rest of the federal budget, but intelligence has increased only barely the share of the federal budget that it consumes, which is a more important indicator than dollar-spending levels.)

Intelligence was a novelty in the 1940s. At that time, policy makers in both the executive branch and Congress viewed intelligence as a newcomer to national security. Even within the Army and Navy, intelligence developed relatively late and was far from robust until well into the twentieth century. As a result, intelligence did not have long-established patrons in the government, but it did have many rivals with competing departments, particularly the military and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), neither of which was willing to share its sources of information. Furthermore, intelligence did not have well-established traditions or modes of operation and thus was forced to create these during two periods of extreme pressure: World War II and the cold war.

A Threat-Based Foreign Policy.

With the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine, the United States assumed a vested interest in the international status quo. This interest became more pronounced after the Spanish-American War in 1898. With the acquisition of a small colonial empire, the United States achieved a satisfactory international position—largely self-sufficient and largely unthreatened. However, the twentieth century saw the repeated rise of powers whose foreign policies were direct threats to the status quo: Kaiserine Germany in World War I, the Axis in World War II, and then the Soviet Union during the cold war.

Responding to these threats became the mainstay of U.S. national security policy. The threats also gave focus to much of the operational side of U.S. intelligence, from its initial experience in the OSS during World War II to broader covert actions in the cold war. Intelligence operations were one way in which the United States countered these threats.

The terrorism threat in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries fits the same pattern of an opponent who rejects the international status quo and has emerged as an issue for U.S. national security. However, now the enemy is not a nation-state—even when terrorists have the support of nation-states or appear to be quasistates, like the Islamic State —which makes it more difficult to deal with the problem. The refusal to accept the status quo could be more central to terrorists than it was to nation-states such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, for whom the international status quo was also anathema. Such countries can, when necessary or convenient, forgo those policies, temporarily accept the status quo, and continue to function. Terrorists, however, cannot accept the status quo


without giving up their raison d’être.

The Influence of the Cold War.

Historians of intelligence often debate whether the United States would have had a large- scale intelligence capability had there been no cold war. The view here is that the answer is yes. The 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, not the cold war, prompted the initial formation of the U.S. intelligence community.

Even so, the prosecution of the cold war became the major defining factor in the development of most basic forms and practices of the U.S. intelligence community. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the cold war was the predominant national security issue, taking up to half of the intelligence budget, according to former Director of Central Intelligence Robert M. Gates (1991–1993). Moreover, the fact that the Soviet Union and its allies were essentially closed targets had a major effect on U.S. intelligence, forcing it to resort to a variety of largely remote technical systems to collect needed information from a distance.

The Global Scope of Intelligence Interests.

The cold war quickly shifted from a struggle for predominance in postwar Europe to a global struggle in which virtually any nation or region could be a pawn between the two sides. Although some areas always remained more important than others, none could be written off entirely. Thus, U.S. intelligence began to collect and analyze information about, and station intelligence personnel in, every region.

A Wittingly Redundant Analytical Structure.

Intelligence can be divided into four broad activities: collection, analysis, covert action, and counterintelligence. The United States developed unique entities to handle the various types of collection (imagery, signals, espionage) and covert action; counterintelligence is a function that is found in virtually every intelligence agency. But, for analysis, U.S. policy makers purposely created three agencies whose functions appear to overlap: the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Analysis (until 2015, the Directorate of Intelligence), the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Each of these agencies is considered an all-source analytical agency; that is, they have access to the full range of collected intelligence, and they work on virtually the same issues, although with differing degrees of emphasis, reflecting the interests of their primary policy customers.

Two major reasons explain this redundancy, and they are fundamental to how the United States conducts analysis. First, different consumers of intelligence—policy makers—have different intelligence needs. Even when the president, the secretary of state, the secretary of


defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are working on the same issue, each has different operational responsibilities and concerns. The United States developed analytical centers to serve each policy maker’s specific and unique needs. Also, each policy agency wanted to be assured of a stream of intelligence dedicated to its needs.

Second, the United States developed the concept of competitive analysis, an idea that is based on the belief that by having analysts in several agencies with different backgrounds and perspectives work on the same issue, parochial views more likely will be countered—if not weeded out—and proximate reality is more likely to be achieved. Competitive analysis should, in theory, be an antidote to groupthink and forced consensus, although this is not always the case in practice. For example, during the pre-war assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, divisions formed among agencies about the nature of some intelligence (such as the possible role of aluminum tubes in a nuclear program) and whether the totality of the intelligence indicated parts of a nuclear program or a more coherent program. But these differences did not appreciably alter the predominant view with respect to the overall potential Iraqi nuclear capability.

As one would expect, competitive analysis entails a certain cost for the intelligence community because it requires having many analysts in several agencies. During the 1990s, as intelligence budgets contracted severely under the pressure of the post–cold war peace dividend and because of a lack of political support in either the executive branch or Congress, much of the capability to conduct competitive analysis was lost. There simply were not enough analysts. According to DCI George J. Tenet (1997–2004), the entire intelligence community lost some 23,000 positions during the 1990s, affecting all activities. One result was a tendency to do less competitive analysis and, instead, to allow agencies to focus on certain issues exclusively, which resulted in a sort of analytical triage. As the intelligence budget declines again from its 2010 peak, intelligence managers fear being forced back into that same position.

Consumer–Producer Relations.

The distinct line that is drawn between policy and intelligence leads to questions about how intelligence producers and consumers should relate to each other. The issue is the degree of proximity that is desirable.

Two schools of thought have been evident in this debate in the United States. The distance school argued that the intelligence establishment should keep itself separate from the policy makers to avoid the risk of providing intelligence that lacks objectivity and favors or opposes one policy choice over others. Adherents of the distance school also feared that policy makers could interfere with intelligence so as to receive analysis that supported or opposed specific policies. This group believed that too close a relationship increased the risk of politicized intelligence.


The proximate group argued that too great a distance raised the risk that the intelligence community would be less aware of policy makers’ needs and therefore produce less useful intelligence. This group maintained that proper training and internal reviews could avoid politicization of intelligence.

By the late 1950s to early 1960s, the proximate school became the preferred model for U.S. intelligence. But the debate was significant in that it underscored the early and persistent fears about intelligence becoming politicized.

In the late 1990s, there were two subtle shifts in the policy–intelligence relationship. The first was a greatly increased emphasis on support to military operations, which some believed gave too much priority to this sector—at a time when threats to national security had seemingly decreased—at the expense of other intelligence consumers. The second was the feeling among some analysts that they were being torn between operational customers and analytical customers.

The apotheosis of the proximate relationship may have come under President George W. Bush (2001–2009) who, upon taking office, requested that he receive an intelligence briefing six days a week. DCIs George Tenet and Porter J. Goss (2004–2006) attended these daily briefings, which was unprecedented for a DCI. This greatly increased degree of proximity at the most senior level led some observers to question its possible effects on the DCI’s ability to remain objective about the intelligence being offered. This practice continued under Directors of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte (2005–2007) and Mike McConnell (2007–2009). Although President Barack Obama (2009–) receives a President’s Daily Brief (PDB), it is not necessarily presented to him by the DNI. There is, however, a postbrief meeting that the DNI or his deputy does attend. This suggests that a daily president–DNI meeting has become a standard part of the policy–intelligence relationship.

The Relationship Between Analysis and Collection and Covert Action.

Parallel to the debate about producer–consumer relations, factions have waged a similar debate about the proper relationship between intelligence analysis, on the one hand, and intelligence collection and covert action, on the other.

The issue has centered largely on the structure of the CIA, which includes both analytical and operational components: the Directorate of Analysis (DA) and the Directorate of Operations (DO). (A similar structure exists in DIA with both analysts and a clandestine service, now called the Defense Clandestine Service, or DCS, but DIA has not usually been the focus of these concerns.) The DO is responsible for both espionage and covert action. Again, distance and proximate schools of thought took form. The distance school argued that analysis and the two operational functions are largely distinct and that housing them together could be risky for the security of human sources and methods and for analysis.


Distance adherents raised concerns about the ability of the DI (as it then was) to provide objective analysis when the DO is concurrently running a major covert action. Will covert operators exert pressure, either overt or subliminal, to have analysis support the covert action? As an example of such a conflict of interest, such stresses existed between some analytical components of the intelligence community and supporters of the counterrevolutionaries (contras) who were fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Some analysts questioned whether the contras would ever be victorious, which was seen as unsupportive by some advocates of the contras’ cause.

The proximate school argued that separating the two functions deprives both analysis and operations of the benefits of a close relationship. Analysts gain a better appreciation of operational goals and realities, which can be factored into their work, as well as a better sense of the value of sources developed in espionage. Operators gain a better appreciation of the analyses they receive, which can be factored into their own planning.

Although critics of the current structure have repeatedly suggested separating analytical and operational components, the proximate school has prevailed. In the mid-1990s, the then- DI and DO entered a partnership that resulted in bringing together their front offices and various regional offices. This did not entirely improve their working relationship. One of the by-products of the 2002 Iraq WMD estimate was an effort to give analysts greater insight into DO sources. This was largely a reaction to the agent named CURVE BALL, a human source under German control whose reporting on Iraqi biological weapons proved to be fabricated, unbeknownst to some analysts, who unwittingly continued to use this reporting as part of their supporting intelligence even after the reporting had been recalled. In 2015, Director of the CIA (DCIA) John Brennan announced a major reorganization of the CIA into a series of regional and topical mission centers that would combine analytic and operational staffs and functions. These mission centers, each headed by an assistant director, have become the loci of all CIA activities, with the DA and DO essentially becoming logistical supports for the mission centers. Thus, the proximate model is still the preferred one, although some observers have raised concerns about this new structure homogenizing the unique cultures and attributes of the DA and the DO.

The Debate Over Covert Action.

As discussed in chapter 1, covert action in the United States has always generated some uneasiness among those concerned about its propriety or acceptability as a facet of U.S. policy—secret intervention, perhaps violently, in the affairs of another state. In addition, many debated the propriety of paramilitary operations—the training and equipping of large foreign irregular military units, such as the contras in Nicaragua or the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. Other than assassination, paramilitary operations have been among the most controversial aspects of covert action, and they have an uneven record. The vigor of the debate for and against paramilitary operations has varied widely over time. Little discussion occurred before the Bay of Pigs invasion (1961), and afterward there was little discussion


until the 1970s, when the Vietnam War fostered a collapse of the bipartisan cold war consensus that had supported an array of measures to counter Soviet expansion. At the same time, a series of revelations about intelligence community misdeeds fostered more skepticism if not opposition to intelligence operations. The debate revived once again during the contras’ paramilitary campaign against Nicaragua’s government in the mid- 1980s. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, however, broad agreement re-emerged on a full range of covert actions—as opposed to a later debate on interrogation techniques.

Two more recent aspects of this continuing debate over covert action are the use of armed UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to attack terrorists overseas—including U.S. citizens, which has raised questions about propriety and legality, and whether the use of cyberspace as a preemptive or precursor weapon is a military action or a covert action. (Both of these issues are discussed in more detail in chaps. 8 and 12.)

The Continuity of Intelligence Policy.

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