Journal: Mel Goodman on CIA Myths

Government, Military

CIA and Intelligence Community Mythologies

Saturday 23 January 2010  by: Melvin A. Goodman

It is time for serious soul-searching regarding the role of the CIA and the intelligence community. Last month’s operational and intelligence failures led to the deaths of seven CIA officers in Afghanistan and might have resulted in nearly 300 deaths on a Northwest Airlines plane headed for Detroit.Myths Covered:

The Greatest Myth: The 9/11 Commission offered insight into the systemic problems of the CIA and the intelligence community.
Myth Number Two: The intelligence community is a genuine community that fosters intelligence cooperation and the sharing of intelligence information.
Myth Number Three: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence offers a genuine possibility for exercising central control over the intelligence community.
Myth Number Four: The CIA is not a policy agency, but is chartered to provide objective and balanced intelligence analysis to decision-makers without any policy axe to grind.

Myth Number Five: The 9/11 and Christmas Day failures were due to the lack of sharing intelligence collection.

Myth Number Six: The CIA successfully recruits foreign assets.Highlights garnered by a Brazilian observer:

– Centralization
– Lack of cooperation within the Intelligence Community
– Inability to learn from its failure
– A culture of cover-up to conceal failures
– Crazy-quilt Burocratic structure
– lack of centralized authority and responsibility within the community
– much clandestine collection over the years has been designed to collect information that supports policy
– lack of sharing intelligence collection.
– inadequate flow of information between intelligence agencies
– lacks one central depository for all information on national and international terrorism, and the proliferation of intelligence agencies makes sharing of intelligence products even more cumbersome
– Tremendous amounts of useful intelligence are collected, but intelligence analysis has not been appreciably improved.
– there has been a trend toward militarization of the entire intelligence community.
– The absence of an independent civilian counter to the power of military intelligence threatens civilian control of the decision to use military power and makes it more likely that intelligence will be tailored to suit the purposes of the Pentagon.
the Congressional intelligence oversight process has made no genuine effort to monitor CIA’s flawed intelligence analysis or its clandestine operations, and failed to challenge the illegal activities of the CIA that were part of the policy process.