‘SAY IT AIN’T SO, JIM’: IMPENDING REORGANIZATION OF CIA LOOKS LIKE SUPPRESSION, POLITICIZING OF INTELLIGENCE

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(Washington, D.C.) Senior managers of
the Central Intelligence Agency’s
Directorate of Intelligence (DI) — the
arm of the Agency responsible for
analysis — held an unusual emergency
meeting with their analysts on the
afternoon of 1 July, just before the
start of a long holiday weekend. The
purpose of the meeting was to announce
plans for a complete reorganization of
the Central Intelligence Agency.

Analysts were told that these changes
were necessary for two reasons: First, to
head off Congress, which is considering
several drastic restructuring schemes of
its own to punish CIA for the Aldrich
Ames disaster. And second, to
“serve” U.S. policy-makers
better in the New World Order.

Director of Central Intelligence James
Woolsey is expected to announce this
reorganization — the biggest at CIA
since the early 1980s — during testimony
to Congress on 18 July. This announcement
will draw upon the work of a special
Directorate of Intelligence task force
that was set up for the express purpose
of overhauling the Directorate of
Intelligence. Curiously, the DI managers
said that the Directorate of Operations
(where Ames worked) is preparing its own
reorganization plan — one that will be
less drastic and will, in any event, not
be announced until the fall.

What’s Going On?

It is an open secret that the Clinton
Administration is extremely displeased
with the CIA Directorate of Intelligence.
This animosity toward the Agency’s
analysts stems in part from briefings
supplied to Congress last fall by the
National Intelligence Officer for Latin
America, Brian Latel, which raised
serious questions about the mental
stability, behavior and policy
predilections of ousted Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The analysis and
judgments — and leaks to the press about
them — briefed by Mr. Latel greatly
sharpened congressional opposition to the
Clinton policy aimed at restoring
Aristide to power, no matter what. The
White House and much of the foreign
policy establishment(1)
will never forgive CIA for thus
complicating its unquestioning embrace of
Aristide.

By April 1994, Administration
displeasure with CIA had turned into
indignation. Faced with a growing number
of foreign policy debacles, Clinton
officials — notably several on the staff
of the White House and National Security
Council — grew increasingly furious at
CIA intelligence assessments which
suggested that Administration policy in
North Korea, Somalia, Bosnia, China, and
Russia was in trouble. Administration
officials started to argue that CIA was
not providing them with “the
proper support.”
Some
officials implied that if CIA had done a
better job analyzing the world, Mr.
Clinton’s foreign policy would not be in
trouble.

The Damage Already Done

The Deputy Director for Intelligence
(DDI), Douglas MacEachin, began to make
changes in early 1994 to accommodate
Administration concerns. These changes
accelerated as the summer approached.
They included:

  • The style of Directorate
    of Intelligence papers was
    altered in such a way as to alter
    the content, as well.

    Starting in late 1993, MacEachin
    decreed that future DI papers
    would rely on a strictly-enforced
    “evidentiary base.”
    What this meant was that DI
    analyses would henceforth be
    strictly limited to factual
    statements bereft of forecasts —
    dismissed as “crystal
    ball-gazing” — and very
    short on informed, if necessarily
    somewhat subjective, judgments.
    Starting in April 1994, most DI
    analytical papers were limited to
    3 to 7 pages, including
    graphics and illustrations.
  • A special staff was
    created — the Presidential
    Support Staff — to see
    personally to the daily briefing
    needs of senior policy-makers.

    This new organization replaced
    the President’s Daily Brief Staff
    which performed this task
    effectively for at least the past
    20 years. The reason for the
    change appears to be an
    unwillingness to receive
    information from other than
    briefers who are sufficiently
    attuned to the briefees’
    sensibilities as to avoid
    bringing up unwelcome issues or
    information.
  • “Sore spot”
    items — involving, for example,
    politically sensitive issues like
    China’s MFN status — have
    disappeared from the National
    Intelligence Daily and the
    President’s Daily Brief
    ,
    according to a Washington
    Times
    ‘ “Inside the
    Beltway” item which ran on 7
    June 1994.
  • A number of analysts who
    have challenged or refused to
    conform to these new policies
    were demoted, reassigned or sent
    abroad.

What’s in Store?

In private meetings with other senior
DI officials, MacEachin — who is said to
have claimed that he is acting on behalf
of Director Woolsey — laid down the real
objectives of his reorganization plan:

  1. Consolidating and
    institutionalizing changes
    already made.
  2. This would involve, among other
    things, “purging the
    culture of the 1980s”

    at the CIA. No one knows exactly
    what this means. It could be
    interpreted as a sign that the
    Administration wants to purge a
    so-called “Cold War
    mindset” from DI products.
    (Indeed, MacEachin, as an analyst
    in the Agency’s Soviet Affairs
    Bureau and former head of the CIA
    Arms Control Intelligence Staff,
    has long been susceptible to the
    moral equivalency and
    multilateralist notions that
    underpin much of the
    New-World-Order-think.)
  3. On the other hand, the
    “1980s culture” that
    the DDI wants to purge may be
    that instituted under former CIA
    Directors William Casey and
    Robert Gates designed to maximize
    the quality and utility of
    intelligence analysis by
    encouraging competition in
    analysis, incorporating
    alternative scenarios and
    publishing dissenting points of
    view.

  4. Assuring that CIA
    briefings coincide with
    Administration policy and cannot
    lead policy makers to accuse the
    Agency of “disloyalty.”

    MacEachin was quoted as having
    actually said in a recent meeting
    with senior CIA officials:
    “Analysts must recognize
    that if they give a briefing
    which deviates too much from
    official policy, they may be
    accused by Clinton Administration
    officials of being
    disloyal.”

In pursuit of these objectives, three
draft plans were unveiled on 14 July,
featuring — among other things — a
number of troublesome bureaucratic
changes, including the following:

  • Most if not all DI
    regional offices will be merged.

    A single DI career service will
    be created. This new system will
    stress “well-rounded”
    analysts over experts. MacEachin
    appears to have a low regard for
    expert analysts; he does not like
    analysts to stay in any given job
    for more than two-to-three years
    and thereby develop such
    expertise.
  • Some in the DI believe that
    Clinton foreign policy officials
    who seem to share this attitude
    are simply intimidated by
    experienced hands at State and
    CIA whose corporate memories may
    prove inconvenient. By doing away
    with longtime experts, CIA would
    avoid this problem and allow
    relatively inexperienced
    policy-makers to see themselves
    as unrivaled authorities on the
    subject at hand.

  • The CIA Office of
    Leadership Analysis (LDA), which
    produced the controversial
    Aristide psychological profile
    and biography, will be abolished
    .
  • The CIA Office of
    Training and Education course on
    intelligence writing will be
    completely redesigned to teach
    rookie and veteran analysts how
    to write fact-based,
    “judgment-free”
    analytical papers.

Regrettably, many veteran CIA analysts
and managers support MacEachin’s efforts.
They see a Central Intelligence Agency in
serious political trouble as a result of
congressional micromanagement and the
hostility of the Clinton team. Some
appear preoccupied with concerns about
job security arising from the Ames
affair, recent ambitious bids by the FBI
to steal CIA turf, and Senator Daniel
Patrick Moynihan’s perennial effort to
abolish the Agency outright. Simply put,
a number of senior CIA employees and
analysts believe that to survive, CIA
needs to give the Administration whatever
political correctness it wants.

What Will Result?

The MacEachin strategy appears aimed
at using the cover of the Ames affair to
blow through a major reorganization of
the CIA that will have long-term
consequences for U.S. intelligence and
for American security policy. The
incipient invasion of Haiti is a case in
point: Accommodating the Clinton
Administration’s adamant opposition to
the unvarnished truth about the nature of
the actors and the complexion of the
problem in Haiti appears likely to result
in dead American troops and the
assumption of an onerous new U.S.
responsibility for the turbulent domestic
situation there.

In short, this reorganization
of the Directorate of Intelligence will
not provide the hard-headed, critical
intelligence support President Clinton
and his team so desperately need.

Instead, it will institutionalize pandering
to policy officials who become spiteful
when confronted with bad news concerning
their assumptions and decisions. For
example, the kind of rigorous analysis
which U.S. policy-makers and commanders
will have to have if they are actually
directed to invade Haiti will not be
produced under this plan. Similarly, CIA
analyses of many other issues this
Administration finds politically
neuralgic — for example, North Korea’s
ongoing nuclear weapons program; the
resurgent anti-Western forces in the
former Soviet Union; the potential for
further, strategically significant
conflict in the Persian Gulf; the
long-range problems for American
interests in East Asia and beyond arising
from China’s economic growth and military
build-up; and the need for effective
missile defenses — are also likely to
suffer as a result of this scheme.

The Bottom Line

Clearly, there are areas of the CIA’s
performance — both on the operational
side (involving everything from
counterintelligence to the running of
secret agents) and on the analytical side
(from assessing potential adversaries’
actual capabilities to divining their
intentions) — that warrant reform and
refocussing. Such improvements should
reflect the continuing importance of
having intelligence serve
policy-making and policy execution in a
proper way, i.e., by being timely,
accurate and relevant.

But this reorganization and
reinvigoration must be done with
toughness, thoughtfulness and with a
vision for future needs. It must not
proceed as the product of the political
displeasure of the current administration
with the intelligence judgments being
produced. While the intelligence
community must always be professionally
responsible to the true needs of the
President and his policy officials in
formulating and executing U.S. policy, it
must never “cook the books” —
either by direction, out of fear, in
order to protect its “rice
bowls” or to curry favor.

CIA officials may think that the
current reorganization plan will spare
them the budget cutter’s ax by winning
kudos from the Administration and
congressional critics. In the
long-run, however, by creating conditions
under which the Agency becomes, at best,
irrelevant and, at worst, a contributor
to ill-considered policy decisions, they
may instead be writing the CIA’s
epitaph
.

– 30 –

1. In this regard,
see “Psychology and the CIA: Leaders
on the Couch,” by Thomas Omerstad,
in Foreign Policy, Summer 1994,
pp. 105-122.

Center for Security Policy

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