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Once again, defining the unglamorous yet screamingly obvious US intelligence needs


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has sent its review to the full House of the President's fiscal year 2005 budget request, "covering all major intelligence programs within the National Foreign Intelligence Program, the Joint Military Intelligence Program, and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities accounts, and also covering functional capabilities, such as human intelligence, analysis, counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterterrorism."

In its FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, the Committee said that its "in-depth study of three broad topics" within the Intelligence Community were deserving of particular note, all related to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT):

  • Language capabilities
  • Intel on Iraq prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Interrogation and treatment of detainees in Iraq and other locations

After all the obligatory obeisance comments, the Committee said that five areas needed buckets of attention, money, resources, and management (my words, not the Committee's) in properly prosecuting the GWOT:

  • HUMINT (human intelligence) capabilities
  • Intel analysis
  • language capabilities
  • management of disparate intel IT systems
  • counterintelligence capabilities

The Committee returned to these areas with a vengeance in the topic of AREAS OF SPECIAL INTEREST, highlighting "areas of concern that it believes must be addressed with a high priority by the Director of Central Intelligence, (DCI) as the leader of the Intelligence Community, if intelligence sufficient to protect our national security is to be obtained and provided to policy makers."

"Global Human Intelligence Collection" led the list, noting that "all is not well in the world of clandestine human intelligence collection (HUMINT). The DCI himself has stated that five more years will be needed to build a viable HUMINT capability":

"After years of trying to convince, suggest, urge, entice, cajole, and pressure CIA to make wide-reaching changes to the way it conducts its HUMINT mission, however, CIA, in the Committee's view, continues down a road leading over a proverbial cliff. The damage to the HUMINT mission through its misallocation and redirection of resources, poor prioritization of objectives, micromanagement of field operations, and a continued political aversion to operational risk is, in the Committee's judgment, significant and could likely be long-lasting."

The Directorate of Intelligence (DI) was a close second, "suffer[ing] from disinvestments resulting from the so-called `peace dividend' of the 1990's. It was not until the World Trade Center and Pentagon were struck that senior DI management began to realize just how desperate the need is for an expanded and experienced analytic cadre."

The Committee notes four developments that "seriously undermine and degrade the relevance of the DI":

  1. Unsustainable surges in DI personnel to cover crisis issues.
  2. Culture of analytic risk aversion, (senior DI managers do not want risk taking--and that they will not stand by an analyst who has made the wrong prediction).
  3. Continuing overemphasis by senior DI managers on current intelligence reporting instead of on the longer-term, predictive, strategic intelligence forecasting.
  4. Senior DI managers still do not have the ability to drive collection priorities.

The Committee rounded out its needs list with:

  • CIA compensation reform (rethinking Pay for Performance (PFP))
  • National Reconnaissance Office funding and direction
  • Intelligence community language capabilities
  • Assessing the Terrorist Target
  • Information sharing
  • Counternarcotics/HUMINT operations
  • Enterprise information technology (IT) architecture

For what was said to be at times a highly partisan row over the final report, the above items get my vote. I lay many, if not most, of the problems against which we struggle today to the lack of the above recommendations. Fund it without dispatch and implement it well.

558 [To accompany H.R. 4548]
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
JUNE 21, 2004

Gordon Housworth

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