Problems in the Process of Intelligence in CIA


This has reference to your query on the above subject. I have outlined why the CIA should be revitalized to facilitate it to forewarn any threats to U.S. I have also pointed out the earlier failures of the CIA to forewarn or where CIA’s operations have failed and suggested ways and means increase and revitalize its functions.

Analysis of the Issue

The collapse of Soviet Union witnessed the end of the cold war and in 1990. Even today, there is a debate about whether the CIA can be dismantled.. In 1994, there came the outraging disclosure that Aldrich Ames, who was the senior officer in the Soviet espionage department, had been spying for Moscow for the past nine years and exposed about twelve members of soviet insiders working secretly for the CIA and nine of them were executed by KGB immediately after disclosure.

In 1990s, a steady flow of intelligence failures happened in every activity of CIA starting from the collection of intelligence to scrutiny of counterintelligence to covert operations. Some of the significant CIA failures have been listed below:

  • In 1961, CIA witnessed public embarrassment after it supported the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion in which about 1500 U.S. trained soldiers were sent to oust Dictator Fidel Castro.
  • 1963, CIA devised Operation Mongoose by which it again and again tried to assassinate Castro by dubious means of a detonating seashell and exploding cigar.
  • In 1975, a probe was ordered by Senate. A committee under Sen. Frank Church examined CIA’s role and was opined that CIA acted like a rogue elephant thereby crushing foreign nationals. In view of the Senate probe, President Ford issued an executive Order thereby banning future assassination by CIA.
  • CIA spent about two-thirds of its resources on the Soviet Union during cold war era, but it was accused of not foreseeing the collapse of Soviet Union.
  • CIA covert operation with unsavory Latin American drug dealers and paramilitary groups was exposed.
  • In 1987, CIA was incriminated in the illegal sale of arms to Iran thereby clandestinely funded rebel fighters in Nicaragua.
  • In 1996, CIA’s covert operation to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power was exposed.
  • In 1998, CIA’s shortsighted action of targeting a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was revealed.
  • CIA’s accidental targeting of the embassy of China in Belgrade in 1999 was disclosed.
  • CIA was accused to forewarn North Korea’s test of a three-stage rocket and India’s nuclear test in 1998.
  • In 1998, CIA was accused of its inability to discover plots to bomb U.S. embassies in Africa.
  • CIA was blamed for its incapability to uncover the bombing of USS Cole in Yemen in the year 2000.
  • U.S. military trustworthiness was severely discredited internationally due to its defeat in Vietnam and CIA was blamed for this also.
  • Though beset by intelligence lapses, the U.S military intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo and in the Gulf war, was finally successful operations.
  • CIA was also damned for not preventing or forewarning the 9/11 attack. A panel was appointed by the U.S. President Bush, and it criticized the CIA for failing to forewarn the threat of Al Qaeda. CIA Director George Tenet acknowledged that it will take at least five years to set right the loopholes that the 9/11 attack brought to light. (Thomas 46).
  • CIA was blamed for its wrong espionage that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons. In this case also, the CIA apologized for wrong information. (Diamond 7).

CIA now functions with a director and other thirteen intelligence authorities with an aggregate annual outlay exceeding $thirty billion, which has not even forewarned in many occasions about enemy’s enemy’s plot against U.S.A. (Goodman 59). This facilitated its critics to vehemently push their argument is CIA is really needed when it is impotent to forewarn many attacks against U.S.

In the case of Pearl Harbor attack, then U.S. president Roosevelt nominated a high-ranking committee to find out the reasons for the intelligence breakdown. However, in case of 9/11 attack, President Bush turned away the request for such inquiry commission. The reluctance to order an inquiry for the cause of intelligence failure raises the doubt that there could be enough forewarning of the assaults that might have gone unnoticed. (Goodman 59).

Despite repeated failures on the part of CIA, no investigation or any post mortem analysis were ordered to disclose why CIA failed to detect and forewarn such attacks, nor there was no major transformation in CIA’s investigative traditions. (Goodman 59).

When James Woolsey was the director of CIA, he understood that a Guatemalan colonel was included in CIA payroll who was charged with the assassination of a U.S. national, and he immediately introduced various measures to reform the CIA’s operation and to oust goons from the payroll of CIA. (Goodman 59).

When Deutch was director of CIA, he established “National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)” which facilitated U.S. military to act as the single analyzer of satellite pictures. It is considered to be more significant since the U.S military employs photo evaluation to rationalize the defense outlay, to judge the probability of armed forces’ battle around the globe, and to inspect weapon control accords. In short span of time, NIMA was held liable for a chain of chief intelligence tragedies like the failure to forewarn India’s atomic explosion, bombarding of the embassy of China in Belgrade and the overstatement of Iran and North Korea’s missile programs. (Goodman 59).

Due to the poor functioning of NIMA and failure of CIA to accomplish functional targeting, the bombardment of the embassy of China in Belgrade created a political tension with China and even with cardinal associates of NATO.

Employing baseline data from satellite photography, CIA is in vantage to offer valuable data on varied ecological factors like ozone depletion, global warming and environmental pollution. CIA collects useful information from spy satellites like deteriorating earth’s forests, grassland and food possessions and yet CIA is not accommodating with its information to enlighten public on these issues. (Goodman 59).

CIA should have helped UN monitoring programs in Iraq instead of carrying out its own covert operations against Saddam Hussein. CIA’s data can be used for gathering data on military and political officials who are to be tried in war crime tribunals. Further, without support from CIA, it is doubtful even international institutions like “International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)” can triumphantly oversee tactical arm proliferation in Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Iraq. (Goodman 59).

Issues with secret Action

There are no complete ethical or governmental rules of thumb when to pursue clandestine action. According to Cyrus Vance, an erstwhile secretary of state, it should be perused only if it is absolutely necessary to the country’s safety. CIA also flouted this standard when it engaged world notorious criminals like “Peru’s intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, Panama’s General Manuel Noriega, Chile’s General Manuel Contreas, Guatemala’s colonel Julio Alpirez” on its payroll. Afghan key drug lord namely Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was engaged by CIA and eulogized him as a freedom fighter. (Goodman 59).

Recently published documents expose that CIA engaged Contras on its pay sheet in spite of its recognition that he was the “major impediment to a rational citizen’s privilege doctrine “in Chile. (Goodman 59).

CIA’s covert actions in South America proved to be harmful not only to the interest of the nations involved but also to the interest of USA. It supported Montesinos, who was accused of civil rights misuses in Peru and assisted him to flee from Peru in 2000 to thwart standing trial for human abuse offenses that included the butchery of gullible residents in 1990s. (Goodman 59).

How to consecrate CIA?

Any reform aiming to clean CIA functions should start first from disintegrating its intelligence functions with that of operational functions. For instance, CIA’s coveted action in Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980’s which infringed the U.S. regulation corroborated the capacity of CIA’s operation wing to distort the findings of intelligence wing of CIA. According to George Shultz, former Secretary of State, CIA’s operational connection ‘decorated “CIA’s analysis and estimation.

In 1998, CIA shut down its Research and Development Office, which was cited as the source of CIA’s achievement in the areas of collection of technological information and logical spying. As the result, CIA is no more at the forefront of sophisticated expertise in the gamut of stealthy gatherings and satellite scouting and will be largely relied on the expertise of exterior service providers. Further to destabilize of CIA in the significant provinces of technology and science, “the National Security Agency (NSA)” has been established, which is accountable for gathering and analysis of messages, spying and signals throughout the globe, and later it has been destabilized by a chain of CIA’s top administration decisions. Thus, the need of the hour is to revolutionalize the whole process of CIA and to find out the ways and means to increase its reliability.

The disparity between mechanisms of the preceding years and the operations of the succeeding periods have paved the way to an augmented mobilization of the different spying departments and an extreme dependence on the CIA shore up for the war combatant. As a reform, the agencies responsible for collection of intelligence like” NSA, NIMA and the National Reconnaissance Office” which devices espy satellites with their aggregate outlay of at a minimum of $ ten billion be separated from Department of Defense and be assigned to a new agency that will directly report to the director of CIA. This shift would facilitate more flexibility and outlay more expenditure for analysis and exchange of information.

One another reform suggested is that CIA should radically minimize its covert action. Further, CIA must by no means be permitted to meddle in elections of foreign countries.

Recalling the words of Walter Lippmann who uttered some seven decades ago that it is necessary as early as possible to disintegrate the employees who perform from the staff who examines. If US government is really serious about “reinventing government “, Lippmann’s caution is a fine start to begin with for the espy society. CIA should employ people with linguistic acumen and the local know-how required for reacting to contemporary’s spying confrontations.

Conclusion and Recommendation

CIA should also develop strong overseas relationship services that have accession to sensitive criminal and terror campaign activities abroad and thus, CIA would be able to gather valuable information where it has no operations currently like Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. (Goodman 59).

The need of the hour is the international intelligence co-operation, and now it plays a significant role in the collection of information. It is diverse in character, linking new and reliable collaborators, together with private companies and non-state actors, for instance, civilian airlines.

As in comparison to earlier times, intelligence is now something carried through with allies. The CIA’s Deputy Director of Operations in 2005 purportedly revealed in a closed committee session that almost every killing or capture of an alleged terrorist outside Iraq since 9/11 and attacks of more than 3,000 in all were a result of foreign intelligence services, which function in the sidelines of CIA.” (Andrew, Aldrich and Wark, 2009).

To strengthen and revitalize intelligence system, in 2004, President Bush reinforced the management role of CIA director over the community until a new national intelligence director position is established. He also authorized the establishment of a counter-terrorism center, directed larger exchange of information among intelligence agencies and set up a presidential board to protect civil rights in these new scenarios. Unfortunately, these measures have not been successful as originally envisioned despite efforts by Congress by enactment of the IRTP Act of 2004. (McCormick, 439).

The National Counterterrorism Center project was too slow to become functional even after presidential and congressional action and still experiences from the lack of obvious integration. Further, the culture of coordination among various intelligence agencies is still lacking. (McCormick, 439).

USA requires to remodel its outdated intelligence agencies, especially CIA if it is to match wits with international challenges to American security such as al-Qaeda and customary challenges emanating from the nation, states with the political motives and military means to confront American power and interest.

CIA should use predominantly information available through open –source (OSINT) as it offers quality and quantity of intelligence information. Supporters argue that OSINT’s major benefit is that it is readily available. They are of the view that if OSINT is properly used, analyzed and interpreted, it would throw goldmine of intelligence data and about eighty percent of all intelligence data can be collected from OSINT. According to one research study, about ninety-five percent of all economic intelligence now emanates from open sources. (Lowenthal, 3).

Further, CIA should engage a large number of spies around the world to collect secret information, especially through HUMINT. HUMINT refers to human intelligence, which is offered by individuals rather than by technical means and is very frequently offered by covert agents and spies. It is to be noted that spies are the significant source of information about a country’s political leader’s strategies and their political decisions. The present strategy of U.S. intelligence community is relying more on high-tech surveillance and has altogether neglected human spying, which is known as HUMINT. The present U.S. intelligence community is being criticized as out–of–date and atavistic and time has come that HUMINT has to be outsourced to private industry as the private sector is a decade ahead of government in collecting intelligence. Human intelligence can foretell what the enemy is thinking and initiate preventive steps. It is being alleged that CIA had lost its spotlight on HUMINT assignments and urged to depute more spies on the streets , to lessen the reliance on foreign intelligence agencies and should muster ways and means to penetrate into terrorist cells. Al Qaeda was able to attack U.S. as U.S. did not employ spies to infiltrate into their organization. Hence, HUMINT is required to be revamped and improved to revitalize CIA’s activities (Sims & Gerber 80).

Works Cited

Andrew Christopher, Aldrich, Richard and Wark, Wesley K. Secret Intelligence –A Reader. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Diamond John. The CIA AND the Culture of Failures. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Goodman, Melvin A. “Revamping the CIA.” Issues in Science & Technology 18.2 (2001): 59. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web.

Lowenthal, Mark M. Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. Part 2. New York: CQ Press, 2005.

McCormick, James M. American Foreign Policy and Process. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009.

Sims, Jennifer E & Gerber, Burton L. Transforming U.S. Intelligence. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 2005.

Thomas, Evan, et al. “WITH SPIES LIKE THESE.” Newsweek 143.24 (2004): 46-48. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2009.

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