Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Why the US Intelligence Reforms Are Not Enough

By Coryoth in Op-Ed
Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 09:55:11 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The US Intelligence Community is currently undergoing various reforms in the wake of events of September 11 2001, and issues of poor intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war. These reforms include a new Intelligence Director to oversee all the agencies that make up the US intelligence community, but little real change to the existing structures.

Currently there are 15 agencies, services, organizations, or bureaus that make up the US Intelligence Community. That's right, 15! People usually think of the CIA, the FBI, and maybe the NSA, but you should not forget the likes of Coast Guard Intelligence, Department of Energy, Department of State, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Veteran CIA analysts, resigning in disgust, are already complaining of the excessive layers of bureaucracy just within their own agency. Adding another bureaucratic layer on top of all of that in the hopes of claiming "unity" represents little more than a cosmetic solution.


What structure should the US Intelligence Community take? Ideally there would be only three clearly delineated agencies: Domestic Intelligence, Foreign Intelligence, and Military Intelligence. Open channels of communication between these should exist to not only assist information sharing, but also to avoid toe-stepping as much as possible.

Why only three agencies, and why those divisions? Generally speaking it is best to centralize intelligence collection and analysis as much as possible. Centralizing intelligence aids information sharing, and aids understanding of the broader picture, particularly at the analysis level. Some level of division will still be necessary however. Intelligence agencies require specific government approval to carry out what they do, as many of their activities would be otherwise illegal. Ideally you want to give your collection people as free a hand as possible; however, you also want to protect your own citizens' privacy where possible. It is logical, then, to have at least two agencies: One dealing solely with foreign intelligence, and barred from dealing in any intelligence collected from US citizens; A second that is solely for domestic intelligence, and given a far stricter mandate. It is also wise to disassociate general intelligence (both domestic and foreign) from military intelligence. Collecting and analysing intelligence for active battlefield operations is clearly a very different job than most intelligence collection and analysis. More importantly, however, it makes very good sense to divorce those collecting and analysing the intelligence that may precipitate military actions from those responsible for prosecuting those military actions: both from the view of democratic oversight, and real or perceived bias in analysis of intelligence. Ideally an intelligence agency should simply and impartially collect, analyse and report intelligence, leaving policy creation and application up to those democratically elected to do so. The only reasonable exception is the application of wartime intelligence on the battlefield.

The key points here are: As few divisions as possible; Where divisions are necessary, they should be clear, and have as little potential overlap (and hence duplication of effort) as possible; Wherever possible intelligence analysis and reporting should be separated from military (or related) operations based on that analysis.

How does the current US system compare to our theoretical system? It is not even close. There are 15 different agencies with a significant range of overlap and duplicated effort. Worse still, there are new secret agencies being set up to run in parallel to and circumvent the existing agencies. From the standpoint of separation from the military, the NSA is part of the Department of Defense, and the CIA, while technically independent, is closely tied to the DoD. Worse: the CIA is responsible both for general intelligence, and for active (non-intelligence) operations.

Can recent intelligence failures be, at least in some way, attributed directly to these problems? Yes. Take Iraq: There were two significant issues on that one. First was that Donald Rumsfeld set up his own intelligence collection and analysis group specifically for Iraq, creating needless overlap and confusion on top of what already existed [see Myth #4]. Secondly we have the fact that the CIA is intimately tied with defense and the military (even carrying out their own operations). It was in the CIA interests to find evidence to support war. Of course analysts are supposed to be objective, and most probably are, but in the end being part of defense must influence the culture at the agency: it will effect the way people think, and the things they look for. How about 9/11? Well, that's much less of an intelligence failure, in the sense that seeing such things coming; managing to spot some particular pattern amongst the noise (or amongst the million other possible patterns); is hard. Still, the issue there was largely to do with intelligence sharing, and the fact that there were several small intelligence agencies beholden to their own little government department that had useful information, but no concept of the big picture. As long as there are not clean and obvious divisions between agencies, along with clear channels of access (allowing information to be centralised at the agencies) the issue of everyone wanting their own agency is going to occur.

So what should be done to remedy US intelligence woes? A complete gutting of the current structure to set up something along the lines outlined above. Ask anyone who actually specialises in intelligence what the ideal would be and they'll tell you much the same. The current system is old, and layered with cruft and excessive bureaucracy. Adding new layers of cruft and bureaucracy to patch perceived holes is not going to fix it.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o US Intelligence Community
o reforms
o Intelligen ce Director
o 15 agencies, services, organizations, or bureaus
o resigning in disgust
o new secret agencies
o what already existed [see Myth #4]
o Also by Coryoth


Display: Sort:
Why the US Intelligence Reforms Are Not Enough | 49 comments (40 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Reform as Smokescreen (2.66 / 9) (#4)
by Peahippo on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 02:35:57 AM EST

This is a funny article. It's essentially doing what the Bush Administration is doing: keeping the American people busy with analyzing the intelligence-gathering agencies instead of asking the simple questions of Bush and Cheney and demanding answers:
  • Why did you ignore Osama bin Laden's clear intent on using hijacked aircraft to attack American targets?
  • Why did you cherry-pick intelligence data to inflate your personal cases for war with Iraq?
Of course, this is too much truth for Americans to handle, eww, eek, so let's just drop the matter and continue livin' the dream -- the good America, the wonderful America, liberty-lovin' America, and salute the fucking flag while the Neo-Liberals and Neo-Conservatives (along with their comrades: America's corporate executives) completely destroy the middle class.

(So, no "reform" of an intelligence agency is needed since no one's listening to them anyway. Dig?)

Cheers!


I actually agree (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 10:03:07 AM EST

For the most part I agree that intelligence reform is not exactly the right thing to be discussing, but the fact remains that it is being what is discussed.  What irritates is me is that the "reform" is mostly doing more harm than good to intelligence analysis.  Part of the problem in Iraq was the many layers bureaucracy between the shop floor analyst and the people making the decisions.  Each layer of "management" making decisions about how to trim, what to drop, what to emphasise etc.  All these reforms are doing is adding a new (stacked - Bush appointed Negroponte, and he doesn't exactly have the most impressive history) layer of bureacracy that things have to filter through before Bush has t read them.  It's just separating the president that little bit further from reality (as if he wasn't far enough from it already).

If you really want to lay some blame, however, lay it at Rumsfeld's feet.  When the best intelligence  agency you have is telling you "we don't really see any immediate threat from Iraq" that last ting you should do is set up your own group to collect and analyse intelligence so you can cut the CIA out of the loop and come to your own conclusions!  Why Rumsfeld hasn't been hung drawn and quartered for that one (or his many other fuck ups) I will never exactly know... hmm, now there's a pertinent question: just why exactly is Rumsfeld still there?  His fuck ups have been major, and public, and jet Bush refuses to dismiss him.  What exactly is he providing that is so vital that no amount of failure can cause him to be removed?

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

P-N-A-C (2.66 / 3) (#17)
by Peahippo on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 05:12:00 PM EST

Your reply is cogent. As for Rumsfeld, a Google search explains everything to me why he's still there. Rumsfeld is a Neo-Con and is following the Neo-Con Imperial Playbook -- destroy the environment, destroy the economy, destroy foreign lands ... all just to make more money for the upper class. Rome did it. Britain did it. And now America's doing it.

A real group of fanatics are in power in the federal government, ready to "get biblical" on the world. For me, it's not much change over the last group of real fanatics (the Neo-Liberals, headed up by the Clintons) with Imperial ambitions, although the Neo-Cons in contrast seem to have a strong unified front presented domestically and to the world. Clinton would have killed (and perhaps actually did kill) to have such a strong set of federal powers under almost unquestioning obedience. (An utterly tame Congress also helps the Neo-Cons immensely.)


[ Parent ]
Not really the answer (none / 1) (#19)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 05:39:08 PM EST

As for Rumsfeld, a Google search explains everything to me why he's still there. Rumsfeld is a Neo-Con and is following the Neo-Con Imperial Playbook

I don't see that as an explanation.  Sure, he aligns with PNAC and if Bush's ambitions lie in that direction then Rumsfeld is a good choice - except there is hardly a lack of other experienced people in PNAC who could easily step up to fill the post in place of Rumsfeld.  So the question remains: why keep Rumsfeld when he remains an embarassment?

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

why Rumsfeld is still around... (none / 1) (#20)
by archivis on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 06:27:47 PM EST

Major bribes? Blackmail? Sheer presidential stupidity? Oh the speculation. It's got to be something big, because it's not like Rumsfeld has been been anything than a big political albatross lately.

[ Parent ]
I have a strange theory (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by GenerationY on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 06:45:45 PM EST

and its to do with damage control. The reason main Rumsfeld cannot be replaced is that it is suspected the underlying situation will not improve. Thus if Bush made a new appointment, it would be a matter of weeks before there was a new story: even Bush's replacement for Rumsfeld is a fuck-up. By contrast Don's ineptitude is old news. hey, its been going on so long there might even be a revisionist backlash that says he is doing a good job. It is best to restrict the damage caused by Rumsfeld to his own public profile and nobody else's. As a magnet for "bad vibes" he also offers some protection for Bush himself (put it this way, Bush is Rumsfeld's boss and holds ultimate responsibility for all that Rumsfeld does - yet here we are talking about why Rumsfeld must go, not why Bush should resign).


[ Parent ]
Thanks. (none / 0) (#24)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 09:25:28 PM EST

That's probably the most coherent and believable explanation I've heard.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

aye.... (none / 0) (#38)
by Morphine007 on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 02:29:11 PM EST

.... the words "smoke screen" or "distraction" come to mind when I think of most of Bushy's right hand men.... Thank dog I'm from the socialist republic of Canuckistan to your north ;)

[ Parent ]
Embarassment? You're Kidding. (none / 0) (#22)
by Peahippo on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 08:17:24 PM EST

If this administration were susceptible to such a mundane effect as "embarassment", many of Bush's cabinet would have left long ago, and Bush may well have lost re-election. Furthermore, Rumsfeld is part of the administration's warmaking structure. He'll go when Bush goes. Until then, it's "stay the course".

I'm sure Rumsfeld is burning the midnight oil these days, cherry-picking intelligence data to trump up a rationale for war upon Iran. Throwing another vicious right-wing bastard like Negroponte into the mix just means another set of self-congratulating and self-reinforcing meetings with Rumsfeld and other Neo-Con government agents.

The American Neo-Cons are utterly committed to subduing the Middle East's oil countries, and to protecting Israel by proxy. This is the reality for another 4 years unless we're saved by a particulary bold stance by Europe, and/or a wholesale economic collapse in America (which is what I'm betting on).


[ Parent ]
Please ask Clinton these questions. (none / 0) (#35)
by dxh on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 08:02:53 AM EST


Ask Clinton these questions and get back to us when you get answers.

mmmmmkay?

[ Parent ]

So you're saying that we over-analyse this topic? (1.25 / 4) (#9)
by Anonymous Howards End on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 10:08:02 AM EST

My, my, so we do.  -1, Do As I Say, Not As I do.
--
CodeWright, you are one cowardly hypocritical motherfucker.
Not exactly (2.50 / 2) (#10)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 10:28:07 AM EST

I suggested that this topic could indeed be seen as a distraction from other important issues.  That doesn't mean this is not a topic worth discussing - especially given it is being made an issue.

If we're going to talk about intelligence reform, let;s at least talk about it seriously, and how to best to do it.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

An article... (none / 1) (#11)
by gr3y on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 10:29:10 AM EST

about the U.S. intelligence community that doesn't mention the NRO?

You know nothing.

I am a disruptive technology.

Article only discusses CIA. (none / 0) (#29)
by Paulsweblog on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 03:26:25 PM EST

Not sure why it refers to the U.S. Intelligence Community at all, apart from its idea to merge them into a giant bureaucracy (?!).

--
Blood for blood and death for death.
[ Parent ]

three? you only need one agency (2.75 / 4) (#13)
by m1fcj on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 10:39:13 AM EST

call it GESTAPO and be done with it.

No you fucking nazi! (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 05:34:00 PM EST

Have some goddam sense! It should be called General State Police.

--
"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"


[ Parent ]
Call it the Ministry of Love (none / 1) (#28)
by BottleRocket on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 12:23:57 AM EST

You must work on your crimestop. Ignorance is strength.

Thoughtcrime == doubleplus ungood

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

I see some problems. (3.00 / 7) (#14)
by Another Scott on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 11:01:46 AM EST

Thanks for your contribution. It's well written with decent citations for people to get more information if they're so inclined.

However, I have some qualms about the substance.

1. By lumping the 15 members of the US Intelligence Community together under "agencies" you give the impression that there are 15 CIA- or FBI-sized organizations. That is incorrect. The size of the organizations varies greatly.

2. While there is undobtably overlap and duplication and waste, you haven't explained how moving the boxes on the organizational chart will make the system less wasteful, more efficient, or generally better. For example, there is duplication and waste in the Department of Defense that's existed for a very long time (e.g. the Army and Marines have similar capabilities and duties in some situations) and that's a single organizational unit with a single boss (the Secretary of Defense). Having a single person at the top of the pyramid doesn't eliminate problems of duplication and waste. (Oh, and it's not just a DoD problem either.)

3. You write:

It was in the CIA interests to find evidence to support war. Of course analysts are supposed to be objective, and most probably are, but in the end being part of defense must influence the culture at the agency: it will effect the way people think, and the things they look for.

I disagree. It was in the CIA's interest to provide the best intelligence possible to the decision makers and I'm sure that's what most of the people working there (including the previous DCI) tried to do. If working for a particular agency forces people to "toe the party line", as it were, then having a monolithic (and likely larger) foreign intelligence agency as you advocate will only make the problem much worse, won't it? Wouldn't that danger be a reason not to have a National Intelligence Director and three monolithic agencies?

4. You write:

As long as there are not clean and obvious divisions between agencies, along with clear channels of access (allowing information to be centralised at the agencies) the issue of everyone wanting their own agency is going to occur.

How should the 15 members of the US IC be divided between the 3 agencies you advocate? It's not at all clear and obvious to me how they should be moved around. Since many of them have domestic and foreign activities, I would assume you would advocate breaking those existing units up into their respective parts and moving the people and facilities. OK, let's assume we do that. You still haven't solved the problems of turf battles. You still have the same pool of people working (as that's where the expertise is). The managers still want to have a team working under them so that they can help the country and so that they can advance in the organization. Non-managerial employees still want to work on interesting and important projects. There are only so many of those to go around. Having a larger organizational structure may make turf battles worse because there will be pressure to introduce efficiencies and minimize duplication. To keep the best people working, upper management may decide that duplication can't be avoided - at least in the short term - so that instead of the new organizational being more efficient than the present arrangement, it's actually less efficient (due to: the strains of moving; changing job responsibilites; struggling to maintain position in the organization; experts deciding to leave rather than change positions; changing bosses; etc.). Not to mention the real costs of making such changes.

5. As information moves up any organization it is filtered. It has to be because there are only so many hours in the day for higher-ups to address a particular issue. People make judgements about what is important and what isn't. Saying "we need better communication" is wonderful and true. But there will always be cases when information about an imminent attack was in a file somewhere. Changing the organizational chart doesn't change the fact that someone ultimately has to decide yes or no on a particular problem. And people will always make mistakes.

In an ideal world, it would make some sense to have intelligence agencies with distinct responsibilities. However, the world isn't static. Organizations grow up over time and there are reasons why they have the structures they do. There are significant costs in changing any large organization and change will never eliminate the problems of turf battles, battling over budgets, and communcations difficulties. Yes, changes should be made and I think those outlined by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act are generally pretty good, though I have some concerns about whether a DNI is really going to be beneficial. I think you need to make a stronger case that the overhaul you advocate will solve the problems you've identified.

In short, it's my view that a more rational organizational chart would make sense. But there are real costs in implementing such changes and it's not at all clear, in the details, what the shape of such changes should be.

My $0.02.

Cheers,
Scott.

Some points (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 11:51:24 AM EST

Thanks for a well considered post.

By lumping the 15 members of the US Intelligence Community together under "agencies" you give the impression that there are 15 CIA- or FBI-sized organizations. That is incorrect. The size of the organizations varies greatly.

Very true, but in some ways it is the small ones that are more troubling at times.  The Department of Energy had intelligence people working on Iraq's nuclear capabilities who had serious doubts, for instance, about the aluminium tubes, and yellow cake stories.  Had those people been part of the CIA their views would (hopefully) have been amalgamated into the CIA reports rather than appearing as separate reports from a smaller group to which little creedence was paid.

The question is, does every government department need its own intelligence division, working independently from everyone else, or is it more sensile to avoid that where possible.  At the moment the US is slowly but surely growing toward the former.

While there is undobtably overlap and duplication and waste, you haven't explained how moving the boxes on the organizational chart will make the system less wasteful, more efficient, or generally better.

That is a valid question, and most certainly there will still be vast amounts of waste and duplication even if you draw it under one umbrella.  Consider, however, the case above with the Department of Energy.  The CIA reports are the ones to which serious attention is paid because they are the biggest agency.  If you are farming out intelligence tasks elsewhere; and wasting specialists in small intelligence groups which are (accordingly) ignored; and failing to have such experts helping to give the fuller picture at the large agency: bad things can happen.

Another example might be the vast CIA/NSA clash of responsibility.  The NSA is responsible for foreign signals intelligence, cryptology, etc.  The CIA, wanting to spread its own wings has moved into these areas as well.  The CIA is, unsurprisingly, comparatively very bad at it.  eause they have their own groups doing such things, however, they don't pay much attention to the NSA.  You now have the CIA, which performs active operations, acting on intelligence that is far from the best available.

How should the 15 members of the US IC be divided between the 3 agencies you advocate?

Good question.  It doesn't really work if you try shifting people around.  Part of the issue here is that the sort of reform I am discussing is not someting that can be achieved in any small time frame - it is rather a theoretical ideal that can only be slowly moved toward.  Cosmetic change can occur quickly, real change often requires a long time.

Changing the organizational chart doesn't change the fact that someone ultimately has to decide yes or no on a particular problem. And people will always make mistakes.

No, it doesn't, and particularly with 9/11 I think a lot of the "blame" being parcelled out is a little misplaced.  Eventually someone has to make a call, and that's all you can do.  You simply cannot always see everything.

At the same time, it is worth remembering that intra-agency communication is almost always better, broader, and more efficient than inter-agency communication.  Juggling the organizational chart won't make inefficiencies vanish, but it will help to significantly reduce them.

In short, it's my view that a more rational organizational chart would make sense. But there are real costs in implementing such changes and it's not at all clear, in the details, what the shape of such changes should be.

One of the costs, and the one that hampers any real change being inacted, is that a move towards a more rational stucture would have to be a low and gradual one, with a series of steady reforms over many many years.  This is a cost to any politician wanting to inact it: it has no immediate obvious results that can be trumpeted.

I do agree that the costs of change are great, but that doesn't mean change (especially if undertaken gradually) is not worth pursuing.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Ever been though a company reorganization? (none / 1) (#23)
by lukme on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 08:17:51 PM EST

I have been through several in my short career. What winds up happening is that the bottom tier (the ones doing the work) remain the same, it is just however many level between the lowest level and the top level appear or dissappear. After the reorganization the people doing the work is less than or equal to before the reorg (if they have been fired and hence there would be fewer).

I cannot possibly comprehend what the motivation behind the bush reorg is besides CYA work - ie, see we reorganized the intelligence agencies. It will wind up being the same people doing the work.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
And that's the best case scenario. (none / 0) (#25)
by skyknight on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 09:28:07 PM EST

More likely is that career intelligence people will just quit in disgust. It is my understanding that that is what is happening in the CIA.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Indeed. (none / 0) (#27)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 09:37:03 PM EST

Several senior CIA people have resigned or retired recently.  Examples here and here.

It is hard to say whether such a thing is a sign of, not being party to the internal politics involved in the rash of resignations, but certainly some senior CIA people don't seem to like the current direction.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Break everything or nothing (none / 0) (#26)
by Coryoth on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 09:32:47 PM EST

I have been through a (albeit only the one) company reorganization, and in the end my view was that they should have either taken everything apart and rebuilt from scratch, or just let things keep going as they were and instead keep making continual adjustments over time to slowly steer the company more toward the model they had in mind.  What is happening with the "Intelligence Reforms" appears to be neither - more of a quick re-org patch job.

The other thing to keep in mind, of course, is that the sort of "re-organization" that I am proposing (merging 15 agencies into 3, completely changing the roles of several major agencies along the way) is more like a multi-company re-org.  You won't be able to do it at once, so best to do it slowly over many years.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Intelligence....hmm (none / 1) (#30)
by anthrem on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 05:59:44 PM EST

If only the intelligence community had not been taken over by the millitary. This is the major problem. The checks and balances are disappearing; without those, the millitary has no one to check them acting in ways that are unreasonable or outside of the thought processes of the millitary. Thanks Rummmy! Ugh...

Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
No takeover occurred (none / 0) (#31)
by Coryoth on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 06:33:03 PM EST

the major intelligence agencies in the US have always been closely associated with the military.  This isn't a surprise because for most countries the prime source of foreign intelligence (signals intelligence) was developed during the second word war, and hence very closely tied to the military.  GCHQ in the UK is also closely tied with defense, as is DSD is Australia.  The more recently developed/created agencies tend to uphold the separation from military, such as CSE in Canada, or GCSB in New Zealand.

US Intelligence has not been overtaken by the military, rather it has failed to fully extract itself out from under the military.  That's a hard job and takes time, but it is a goal worth pursuing.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

accountability (none / 0) (#41)
by Norwegian Blue on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 04:52:54 PM EST

I agree with your point but the "takeover" phrase is distracting from the main point of PP.

Moving operations from the CIA to the pentagon may not be a real takeover, but the decrease in accountability to the public is real, and you'd expect an imperial strategy to continue on that accountability track.

[ Parent ]

Four, not three (none / 1) (#33)
by aw70 on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 07:11:57 AM EST

This is a minor nitpick, but the canonical setup for the intelligence services of a country would probably be the three you mentioned (Domestic, Foreign and Military) plus one additional counter-intelligence unit/organisation which is intentionally kept separate from the other three intelligence gathering organisations since its main concern is the internal "health" of these services. Sort of like an auditing service that is only targeted at your own clandestine organisations.

But since your initial suggestion is much too sensible to be ever implemented in practice this is a moot point anyway... ;-)

Just my 0.2E-32 EUR

A.W.



Sounds like the british system. (none / 0) (#34)
by dxh on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 07:59:49 AM EST

So basically, it sounds like you think we should adopt a system much like the british system of only having MI-5, MI-6 and GCHQ.

I think this would work better myself.

I don't like your ideal setup (none / 0) (#36)
by speek on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 08:44:12 AM EST

Just 3 agencies lacks reduncies, puts all our intelligence eggs into too few baskets where they can be led down wrong paths by only a few misguided leaders, and creates a monolithic and large beauracracy that probably wouldn't be able to change directions easily. I'd prefer to see many smaller intelligence organizations that pooled their data to allow multiple analyst agencies to view them.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Domestic vs Foriegn (none / 0) (#37)
by wiredog on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 08:46:59 AM EST

The problem with distinguishing between those, and building a bureaucratic firewall between them, is that intelligence targets cross borders. Those targets can be communications, devices, or people. You need information sharing between domestic and foriegn intel to track those people/things.

OTOH, you need protections against abuse of those things. One protection would be for the people who provide the funding, the US Congress, to have commitees apply some sort of, call it 'oversight' to the agencies...

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

You Sir, are an asshole ... (none / 1) (#39)
by schrotie on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 06:52:55 PM EST

... of truly amazing proportions.

One dealing solely with foreign intelligence, and barred from dealing in any intelligence collected from US citizens; A second that is solely for domestic intelligence, and given a far stricter mandate.
Oh thanks. I am not from your glorious land of the free that regularly pisses on other people's freedom. So you probably won't feel inclined to (quote) protect [unsensitive obnoxiousness replaced by my] privacy where possible. I can't help but feel your plan sucks big time. I know your plan does not make things worse from what's in its place now. Still I cannot cheer your proposal to not give a shit on the human rights I am granted by the constitution of my not nearly so glorious nation.

Be greeted with a whole hearted: Fuck you too.

Can you vote? (none / 0) (#42)
by godix on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 05:31:29 PM EST

If not neither our politicians or citizens give a damn about you or your concerns. So quit your whining your foreign devil, if you keep complaining about the US you'll end up with a CIA file on you for sure.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Cudos (none / 0) (#43)
by schrotie on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 06:28:26 PM EST

Yes I can vote. And that is thanks to the US and the other allies (mostly England, France and Stalin Russia - strange days those).

To set things straight: I have a profound distaste for secret services. Nobody should ever be allowed to breake the law. Nobody should ever be allowed to trample human rights. I got a feeling that playing secret service is for grown ups who didn't grow up. I admit the technology involved is way cool, but seriously, what kinds of persons would want to become secret agents? Such people should probably be put somewhere they can do the least harm but not in a secret agency.

I have a marvelous plan for the US: first the US should stop pissing everybody else off. Especially they should stop molesting muslims. Then, when all the hate starts to become forgotten they transform the agencies into social workers and kindergarten tenders. Bewhitchingly naive, isn't it?

[ Parent ]

And you are from? (none / 0) (#45)
by Coryoth on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:28:07 PM EST

And which country are you from?  There are very very high odds your country has a foreign intelligence service (quit likely linked to the military) which spies on foreign citizens with little or no respect for the privacy rights, just as the US does to you.

This is how the world works, and you can wish as hard as you like that it wouldn't be so, but it just isn't going to happen any time soon.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

D (none / 0) (#46)
by schrotie on Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 06:13:28 PM EST

I'm from Germany. We had the absolute worst of intelligences and linked to the military, too. We also killed some 6 million civillians in the only industrialized mass murder in history. I would not bet on it, but I'd guess the German intelligence service (called military defense service, but there are only very few foreign missions for German military, that is still kind of a novelty) is among the tamest in the world. I'm sure that the MAD (that's its German acronym, no pun, I promise) occasionally violates human rights. But I don't think that would be tolerated by the German media as the status quo.

It was one of the hardest lessons in history too. It cost tens of millions of lifes in Europe alone. It completely destroyd the beautiful German cities and caused significant damage to other European cities. It destroyed the better part of German culture and eradicated German culture in eastern Europe. And it destroyed what was left of German self esteem. But Germany seems to have learned from history, hurray. We are in process of unlearning it, but such questions are viewed differently here than in most other countries.

And so what? Were the MAD like other intelligence agency - or if it indeed is - I'd despise it just as well. There seems to be some very slow historical progress over the millenia. I expect our heirs to someday all stand up against people who propose to ignore their rights. But I don't expect to live to see it.

[ Parent ]

Herr schrotie, (none / 0) (#48)
by k24anson on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 01:22:50 PM EST

... knock it off with the silly quote of E.B. White. Stanley Milgram's classic study of obedience to authority should make you sneeze every time you hear the words, "sixty-five percent."

How does one say sixty-five percent in the German language, anyway? I digress.

Schrotie here is going to take some time before answering this next question I will now pose to him, 'cause I know, I can tell he's a smart guy; he seems to know alot. He just hasn't got the years of life that brings the wisdom to apply in a practical sense all the smarts he possesses.

Schrotie, last week a terroristic expression happened. Three dirty bombs dispersed themselves ... it doesn't really matter where does it schrotie? There are now a couple hundred thousand people that need burying in various places. Between March 8th 2005 and this last week I just made horrific mention of, what would schrotie do to make sure the future as I described above doesn't happen? I'm vesting schrotie here with all the powers and resources of an US President now too. I want to hear schrotie's thoughts articulated, and reasonably, sensibly presented for a practical implementation that balances this wierd idea of "rights" and the fact that a couple thousand bozo's couldn't be stopped because people in the intelligence community were going to trample over my rights.

I know it's late but if anyone does read this little screed, don't be surprised if you see schrotie reading a few chapters from some old Nazi SS officer's manual. Schrotie is really nervous with this new responsiblity I've just thrust upon him. The fate of millions of people must be balanced with his obsession with ...(let me go back and look it up again, what he said ...?) oh yeah, "to stand up to people who ignore their rights." I'm sure President Schrotie with his SS cap hidden behind his back is sincerely and honestly balancing the rights of the people entrusted to him to protect with the determination to find and then capture or kill the (only a small number of) thousands of Islamic terroristic knuckleheads that are now in hiding in the world. Before these guys weren't even hiding themselves like they are now, but this line of thought only runs a tangent off the discussion of the intelligence communities of the world and the personnel inside said such communities.

I can't wait to read to hear from schrotie there, in the distant future. Finally, a calm and rational, practical solution, or the ideas for one.

Thanks schrotie. You're the best!
KLH
NYC

Stay focused. Go slow. Keep it simple.
[ Parent ]

PRIVATIZE INTELLIGENCE (none / 0) (#40)
by klem on Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 08:47:44 PM EST

Domestic Security by Halliburton, etc.

sweet

Of course the reforms are not enough (none / 0) (#44)
by cburke on Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 09:38:51 PM EST

They were not designed in any way to be an effective solution to the problems of our intelligence apparatus.

They were, like so many other endeavours of our dear government, designed to appear to be an effective solution to the problems of our intelligence apparatus.

As usual, it is much more important to appear to be doing something, no matter how ineffectual or stupid.  Coming up with intelligent things to do takes a long time and looks a lot like doing nothing while you are doing it, and therefore is unacceptable to the politicos.

But thanks for the effort, anyway.

Iraq is no role model (none / 0) (#47)
by T818 on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 05:14:58 PM EST

Saddam Hussein gained control of Iraq by first becoming director of all Iraqi intelligience agencies. Unifying all intelligience operations under a single director might cause a concentration of power that could be used for political ends. Mid level co-ordination seems more important than a single unifying director. I think also intelligience orientated to regions must go. For example intelligience operations that concentrate on South West Asia which overlook the fact that groups in Pakistan may have German cells is a mistake. The three level division seems wise.

Herr schrotie, uhm ...? (none / 0) (#49)
by k24anson on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 06:15:40 PM EST

... knock it off with that silly, bum's butt quote of E.B. White, ok? Stanley Milgram's classic study of obedience to authority should make you sneeze every time you hear the words, "sixty-five percent."

How does one say sixty-five percent in the German language, anyway? I digress.

Schrotie here is going to take some time before answering this next question I will now pose to him, 'cause I know, I can tell he's a smart guy; he seems to know alot. He just hasn't got the years of life that brings the wisdom to apply in a practical sense all the smarts he possesses.

Schrotie, last week a terroristic expression happened. Three dirty bombs dispersed themselves ... it doesn't really matter where does it schrotie? There are now a couple hundred thousand people that need burying in various places. Between March 8th 2005 and this last week I just made horrific mention of, what would schrotie do to make sure the future as I described above doesn't happen? I'm vesting schrotie here with all the powers and resources of an US President now too. I want to hear schrotie's thoughts articulated, and reasonably, sensibly presented for a practical implementation that balances this wierd idea of "rights" and the fact that a couple thousand bozo's couldn't be stopped because people in the intelligence community were going to trample over my rights.

I know it's late but if anyone does read this little screed, don't be surprised if you see schrotie reading a few chapters from some old Nazi SS officer's manual. Schrotie is really nervous with this new responsiblity I've just thrust upon him. The fate of millions of people must be balanced with his obsession with ...(let me go back and look it up again, what he said ...?) oh yeah, "to stand up to people who ignore their rights." I'm sure President Schrotie with his SS cap hidden behind his back is sincerely and honestly balancing the rights of the people entrusted to him to protect with the determination to find and then capture or kill the (only a small number of) thousands of Islamic terroristic knuckleheads that are now in hiding in the world. Before these guys weren't even hiding themselves like they are now, but this line of thought only runs a tangent off the discussion of the intelligence communities of the world and the personnel inside said such communities.

I can't wait to read to hear from schrotie there, in the distant future. Finally, a calm and rational, practical solution, or the ideas for one.

Thanks schrotie. You're the best!
KLH
NYC

Stay focused. Go slow. Keep it simple.

Why the US Intelligence Reforms Are Not Enough | 49 comments (40 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!