- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The departure of Porter Goss from the CIA is an extraordinary opportunity to reinforce the basics of intelligence collection and analysis. Gen. Michael Hayden, here is what must happen for the CIA to overcome its recent troubles.

It is time to drop everything associated with the drift and disorder of recent years. That begins with the old names, titles and many of the organizational structures of the intelligence community. You have an opportunity to establish a structure which enhances the simple but vital missions of collecting and analyzing intelligence. These are the core intelligence functions — they protect Americans and their interests around the world. Sadly, the structures evolving at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are the opposite. At present, the DNI is an additional layer of bureaucracy between the working officers and policy-makers. The CIA also spends too much time on activities outside these core functions.

Why not reform the intelligence community to make core functions the centerpiece of a truly effective intelligence service? A small but efficient DNI office can manage the community and serve as the link to policy-makers. It can also be the commanding office which assures officers in the field and working analysts that there is someone in high office who supports them and takes ultimate responsibility for the service. Perhaps most importantly, it should be the birthplace for a new center of intelligence operations.

Under the DNI, you should create a human intelligence, or “Humint,” service which includes the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and the classic espionage units of the Department of Defense. It will not be easy to wrest these functions away from their current overlords. But only by doing so can the DNI help fix rather than exacerbate existing problems. This new Humint service should be the core of American intelligence community and should have responsibility for all CIA chiefs of station and their liaisons with foreign intelligence services. It should rival in importance the creation of the CIA in 1947 from the raw material of the Office of Strategic Services which evolved out of World War II.

There are many things wrong with the intelligence community today, and those flaws cannot be allowed to migrate to a renewed intelligencecapability.You must:

• Get rid of senior operations managers at Langley who have not been in the field for 10 or 15 years. There are far too many of these Washington managers in the Directorate of Operations. Their experience is obsolete. They do not help.

• Stop talking about “risk” and be frank with Congress: Taking risks sometimes means failure. Failure is botched missions, diplomatic fiascos and, yes, sometimes even deaths. Failure must not precipitate a witch hunt. At present, the only consequence an officer faces for taking risks — in both operations and analysis — is harm to one’s career. That has been the case for 13 years. Operatives and analysts rightly conclude that little or no upside exists to risk-taking. But risk-taking is the very heart of the business. The intelligence community these days is too risk-averse because Washington fears failure.

• Engage Congress more directly with more frequent, less formal contact with visiting personnel from overseas stations. The constant hearings and the sterile, rigid and formal exchange of written responses to questions must stop if better working relations are to emerge.

• Help Congress understand that “infiltrating” a terrorist organization is a bad idea. Infiltration is likely to force U.S. government employees into the position of helping commit terrorist acts as the price of membership. Membership does not mean access to useful information the way some lawmakers seem to think it does. It is not a useful option. There are other and better ways to obtain the technical and human-source information we need.

• Reduce the spoon-feeding of other agencies, which currently bogs down the intelligence community. Far too many good case officers are spending precious time trying to help other agencies. They are far better employed in the field, recruiting and managing human sources overseas.

• Greatly reduce the number of operations personnel in domestic assignments.

• If the agency must have a press spokesman, he or she should not think that the job consists of protecting the director and other senior managers. Either say “no comment” to everything or engage the press actively in an effort to improve public understanding of the organization’s work.

• Break up the administrative and security sections. Make them understand that their job is to support the core functions. They are the tail, not the dog.

• Get rid of the trappings of power when top officials travel — that means no more huge delegations or security personnel tripping over one another. Not only do these trips give the wrong impression, but they also tend to tie up field personnel with extraneous duties. At worst, such trips destroy whatever shred of cover people in the field previously enjoyed.

• Start rewarding language competency and cultural understanding. We talk about it now, but we don’t actually do it.

• Streamline the organization by getting rid of job categories and personnel that do not contribute to the primary mission.

As mentioned above, the new Humint service at the center of these reforms would consist of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations plus the Department of Defense’s espionage capabilities. This new service need not take the tactical intelligence functions, which are best done by Special Forces, away from the Pentagon’s field commanders — the people who need them most.

It should not simply be a re-creation of the Clandestine Service under a new chief officer, however. It will also require a cadre of operational analysts to work with the operations officers in the field. This analytical division would take in the functions of the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and parts of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It would also ideally include all of the special “centers,” prominently the National Counterterrorism Center and the National Counterproliferation Center. This service would do best with only the best minds in each area of expertise. It should not be a lumping-together of the existing analytical units.

It will also require a technical service drawing on the very best elements of the National Security Agency, Defense Department and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, as well as two additional services to cover open-source information and administration.

This structure will decrease the size of the Washington bureaucracy while allowing for an increase in the number of field officers and active analysts. It will do away with all of the old conflicts and rivalries of the current structure, as well as its names and its traditions. This course will no doubt upset the “intellcrats” who run the intelligence community today, but it is the only way to develop more effective operational approaches and encourage clear analytical judgments.

The recruitment and handling of human sources overseas is the core mission of American intelligence. Under the current circumstances, there is no better way to pursue that mission than to re-create the service.

John Doe is a former senior intelligence officer at the CIA.

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