As presented to the National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services in Washington, D.C.
The Intelligence Community Was Built To Do Soviet Secrets
The reality is that the intelligence community, in its designs and methods, its collection and production management decisions, and its resource allocations, has been so totally structured for a single mission, the collection of intelligence about a closed society, the only closed society that represented a strategic nuclear threat of consequence, that its capabilities do not lend themselves to re-orientation to other targets, much less to rapid and constant re-orientation among differing targets sets over time.
It is as if we had built a Cadillac and a single superhighway connecting two points–Moscow and Washington—and all of a sudden find that we need three jeeps, ten motorcycles, and a hundred bicycles in order to handle our information requirements. The Cadillac does not lend itself to off-road movement, nor does it lend itself to multiple “minor” missions.
Let me pursue this from another angle, that of cybernetics. Effective decision-making and action comes from having good feed-back loops—not only lots of feed-back loops, out to various sensors or informants or sources of information in different areas of interest, but also efficient feed-back loops, in which the time between change of circumstance, report of change, and notice of change is kept to a minimum.
By imposing its rules of secrecy, the intelligence community is pre-ordaining a longer feed-back loop, a slower response time, and—in this era more often than not—the possibility that it does not even have access to the right source which is only available outside the classified arena.