- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

President Bush has ordered the CIA to embark on a massive recruiting drive to boost by 50 percent the number of analysts and spies with the language and other skills needed to improve intelligence about terrorist groups and rogue nations seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Some reformers praised the directive, in the form of a memorandum sent to CIA Director Porter J. Goss last week and released by the White House late Tuesday. But others worried it plays a numbers game that might lead to a reduction in standards.

“It will be extremely difficult to increase the numbers of people like that, especially because you cannot afford to let standards slip,” said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The memo gives Mr. Goss 90 days to work with the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget to produce a plan and a budget to do the following:

• Increase by 50 percent the numbers of “fully qualified officers in the Directorate of Operations,” also known as the clandestine service, which recruits agents and runs their operations;

• Ensure that “a majority” of the new recruits are “drawn from diverse backgrounds with the skills experience and training needed”;

• Increase by 50 percent the numbers of “CIA officers tested and proficient in mission-critical languages,” such as Arabic, Persian and Pashto;

• Increase by 50 percent the numbers of analysts in the Directorate of Intelligence;

• Double the numbers of CIA staff involved in research and development of new technologies to help with the war on terror and the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The number of staff members in the Directorate of Operations is classified, but it is thought to be several thousand, and the Directorate of Intelligence is several times larger.

The memo gives no time frame for the execution of the plan, but such a huge undertaking is likely to take several years, and the memo asks for updates on its implementation every six months, starting in June.

The expansion will have to be accomplished “within existing budgets,” White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said. “We have already been beefing up intelligence budgets,” she added. “That will provide the additional resources necessary.”

Advocates of reforming U.S. intelligence management praised that the memo directs Mr. Goss to ensure the plan and budget includes “performance measures, with timelines for the achievement of specific measurable goals.”

One former intelligence official working the reform issue said those kinds of metrics and deadlines were exactly the parts of previous management plans that tended to be removed in the pre-September 11 era.

The official called the recruitment goals “ambitious and achievable.”

But critics of the CIA said there would be no way to reach the goals without lowering standards, and scorned the idea of measuring success by numbers of officers.

“The numbers will force them to lower the bar,” said retired Col. Pat Lang, a former case officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, who cited Napoleon to illustrate his point. “In war, men are nothing; the man is everything.”

Col. Lang said there were very particular skills involved in recruiting and running agents.

“People like that — people with the potential to become like that — don’t grow on trees,” he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide