CIA Unveils New Strategy

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The CIA plans to increase its use of “open sources” such as newspapers and blogs and to outsource more software development to commercial contractors under a 22-point strategy being put in place.

The CIA’s “Strategic Intent,” distributed to agency employees in December and posted on its public website this month, stresses improved flexibility and fewer barriers between departments. It contains several corporate-style flourishes, including ongoing employee input, an advisory board drawn from business and academia and “action teams” assigned to implement the plan.

In a speech to CIA workers at the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters Jan. 4, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the plan aims to reassert the 60-year-old agency’s primacy in the intelligence community.

Read the new “Strategic Intent” for yourself on the agency’s Web site. For a bureaucratic document, it’s refreshingly concise. But on the other hand, there’s not much information there.

Hayden’s Jan. 4 speech to agency employees
is more revealing, especially about changes Hayden’s already made in his short tenure.

Here’s what Hayden said about the use of technology for intelligence sharing:

I want to shift more intel dissemination to the Web. We’ll have an integrated Agency brand on JWICS, SIPRNET, and unclassified networks. I’m intrigued by what the DI WIRe has been able to achieve, and it’s clear that this is the way of the future.

We’ve never heard of DI Wire, though we assume it’s some regular product, disseminated via the Web, by which the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence distributes its analysis to those who need it.

Here’s what Hayden said about the CIA’s leadership of the intelligence community:

Next is fulfillment of our leadership role in the Community. I want all of you to know that the DNI asked us to add that goal. It is clear that CIA will maintain and build on its role as a Community leader. We’ve been given a mandate on HUMINT and open source collection. We will be the standard bearer on analytical tradecraft, and we will take the lead on coordinating foreign intelligence relationships.

This could prove to be a significant development, given the bureaucratic muddle that has characterized the intelligence community in the wake of 9/11 reforms and the establishment of the DNI. During the formulation of these reforms, and the uncertainty that followed, for example, the Pentagon under Rumsfeld was widely perceived to be grasping for more control over intelligence collection and analysis.

It’s worth noting in this context that both Hayden and the new director of national intelligence, retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, are both military men and both formerly of the National Security Agency.

In a thought-provoking Jan. 12 op-ed in the Miami Herald, Melvin Goodman of the Center for International Policy — a think tanks whose mission includes the “demilitarization” of foreign policy — argued that the appointment of military men to so many influential posts in the intelligence community “complete[s] the Pentagon’s takeover of the intelligence community and end[s] any pretense of civilian influence, let alone control, of the community.”

But if the CIA really does reassert its leadership of the intelligence bureaucracy, as we now know is its “strategic intent,” that would tend to counteract military influence over intelligence, regardless of the military background of any one CIA director.

Anyway, we’re not qualified to thoroughly assess the significance of all that’s going on right now with the U.S. intelligence community. We do know, however, that the intelligence community is important, and too little covered in the mainstream media.

As such, we invite any readers with expertise or experience in these matters to contribute articles on the intelligence community to WPR. Those who are interested can email with their ideas.