CIA Re-Direction of Clandestine Operations

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CIA's Panetta Shakes up His Spy Corps

Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

US News & world report, Feburary 8, 2011

In a major shift to reinvigorate the post-9/11 spy world inside the Central Intelligence Agency, Director Leon Panetta has decided to change how the agency's National Clandestine Service operates, potentially impacting up to half the CIA's workforce. The shift is part of Panetta's long-range “CIA 2015″ reorganization plan and should make the agency much more agile and quick to respond in the war on terror and other national security flare-ups.

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Phi Beta Iota: This is not a shake-up.  This is an abandonment of language skills and cultural knowledge as a foundation for effective clandestine operations, and a general acknowledgment that the clandestine service is merely in liaison business, and “one size fits all” since English is the common languages for both spies and air traffic controllers.  A “real” clandestine service would have five classes of personnel in more or less equal measure:

  • Career Trainees 20%
  • Mid-Career US Citizen Non-Official Cover Hires 20%
  • Mid-Career Non-US Citizen Non-Official Cover Hires 20%
  • Foreign Liaison Rotationals to Multinational Field Stations 20%
  • One-Time “It's Just Business” Contracts 20%

What CIA has today is way too many youngsters with no real foreign experience, and way too many annuitants (contractors) and old guys who will finally retire when the money dries up, as it is about to.  CIA clandestine operations have no bench, no middle, and no strategy for the future, in part because CIA analytics are not serious, CIA multi-lingual processing at machine speed does not exist, and CIA leverage of global open sources and methods is both out-sourced and pedestrian.  At the same time that our Embassies have become “bunkers,” our spies are increasingly uninformed, disconnected, and ineffective for lack of language, context, and leadership.

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