Saturday, April 22, 2006

Plugging Leaks

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

Late Friday afternoon, after the political pundits had signed off their computer for the weekend and the news cycle closed, the CIA announced the firing of a CIA officer for unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosure of classified information. According to press reports the officer in question is Mary O’Neil McCarthy.

I do not personally know Ms. McCarthy, but she was a senior analyst who had worked on the National Security Council (NSC) for five years during the Clinton years. According to the press, her last position with the CIA was in the Office of the Inspector General.

Let me offer several observations. First of all, this is unprecedented. CIA officers don’t leak because 1) it is against the ethos; 2) it means revocation of your security clearance (and job); and it likely results in complete ostracization by your former colleagues. There is another issue that may or may not loom large for Ms. McCarthy, it is illegal.

When I was on the inside, I completely avoided contact with the press. I also lived in a bubble that helped insolate me from associating with the Washington chattering class. But I was a clandestine officer. Ms. McCarthy was an overt analyst who lived in Washington and, more importantly, worked in policy circles given her stint at the NSC. She was likely a political appointee, given her long stint at the NSC.

So Ms. McCarthy had access to and was known by the chattering class. There are hundreds of intelligence community analysts that meet this description. They don’t leak. So what is the operative issue, this assuming that the allegations against Ms. McCarthy are true?

Ms. McCarthy’s last position was with the Office of the Inspector General (IG). This is the investigative and oversight arm of the CIA. When there are allegations of organizational wrongdoing, the IG—either at its own behest, at the request of the Director of Central Intelligence or from Congress—the IG does an investigation. The only way Ms. McCarthy would have had access to compartmentalized intelligence on US counterterrorism operations was if she was part of an investigating team.

The IG writes reports for D/CIA and Congressional oversight committees. Why would Ms. McCarthy feel compelled to act outside of the oversight and investigative process? The only reason I can imagine is that she took exception to a program that neither the CIA nor Congress wanted to shut down or limit: secret prisons and enforced disappearances.

As I have written in this blog, I am against leaks. There is no such thing as a good leak or a bad leak. They are all bad. When there are suddenly a ton of leaks, this is a good indicator that something is rotten in the system.

So, did Ms. McCarthy find herself in a rotting or rotten system? I suspect we will hear much more about this. The grumblings from CIA are loud and clear. My former colleagues are unhappy and many are jumping ship.

But let me add a tidbit on the secret prison front.

At the end of November 2005, I submitted a draft conference paper for the Intelligence and Ethics Conference, scheduled for lat January 2006. I provided more than the 30 days of review to the CIA Publications Review Board to ensure the conference paper contained no classified information. We are now approaching the end of April and my conference paper has yet to be cleared.

The title of my paper is, “Renditions: The Ethics and National Security Debate”. The CIA initially redacted (cut out as classified) the entire portion of the paper dealing with secret prisons. My research was conducted on the Internet drawing from open source information. My classified work never included secret prisons and in the draft conference paper I never said that there were any, but just addressed the ethical implications of the allegations.

Why is the CIA sitting on this? Because they don’t want any debate on the topic and they don’t want anybody with credibility talking about the implications of the policy, should it exist. Given the new information that Ms. McCarthy was the source of the Dana Priest's Washington Post story, I would say that she would be a rather credible source on the existence of the policy of secret detentions and enforced disappearances. I would also say that this makes my conference paper extremely relevant. This, however, will not impact in the least the clearance process at the CIA. They will continue to sit on it until either I give up or I sue.

Washington Post
CIA Officer Is Fired for Media Leaks
The Post Was Among Outlets That Gained Classified Data
By Dafna Linzer
Saturday, April 22, 2006; A01

The CIA fired a long-serving intelligence officer for sharing classified information with The Washington Post and other news organizations, officials said yesterday, as the agency continued an aggressive internal search for anyone who may have discussed intelligence with the news media.

CIA officials said the career intelligence officer failed more than one polygraph test and acknowledged unauthorized contacts with reporters. The "officer knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence, including operational information" with journalists, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

The CIA did not reveal the identity of the employee, who was dismissed Thursday, but NBC News reported last night she is Mary McCarthy. An intelligence source confirmed that the report was accurate.

McCarthy began her career in government as an analyst at the CIA in 1984, public documents show. She served as special assistant to the president and senior director for intelligence programs at the White House during the Clinton administration and the first few months of the Bush administration. She later returned to the CIA. Attempts to reach her last night were unsuccessful.

The CIA's statement did not name the reporters it believes were involved, but several intelligence officials said The Post's Dana Priest was among them. This week, Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting for articles about the agency, including one that revealed the existence of secret, CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate intelligence committee in February that the agency was determined to get to the bottom of recent leaks, and wanted journalists brought before a federal grand jury to reveal their sources. Regarding disclosures about CIA detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects at secret sites abroad, Goss, the former chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission."

The CIA has filed several reports to the Justice Department since last fall regarding the publication of classified information and has launched its own internal inquiries which include administering polygraphs to dozens of employees.

The intelligence agency is sharing its findings with the Justice Department but is continuing to pursue some avenues of investigation on its own.

"It's up to the Justice Department to decide whether they want to pursue investigations separately," an intelligence source said.

The Justice Department is conducting several leak inquiries, including one into reports last December in the New York Times about a secret domestic surveillance program by the National Security Agency. Officials said it is possible the department could file criminal charges in connection with that investigation and others, but it is unclear whether the department is also investigating the disclosures about CIA-run prisons.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse declined to comment yesterday. "We do not confirm investigations on intelligence-related matters," he said, because of the information's sensitivity.

Intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the dismissed officer identified by others as McCarthy has not been charged with any crime and is not believed to be the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

The officer's employment was terminated for violating a secrecy agreement all employees are required to sign when they join the agency. The agreement prohibits them from sharing classified information with unauthorized individuals.

The CIA said the firing was the result of an internal investigation initiated in late January of all "officers who were involved in or exposed to certain intelligence programs."

"Through the course of these investigations a CIA official acknowledged having unauthorized discussion with the media" and was terminated, the CIA statement said.
Priest, who also won the George Polk Award and a prize from the Overseas Press Club this week for her articles, declined to comment yesterday.

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said people who provide citizens the information they need to hold their government accountable should not "come to harm for that."

"The reporting that Dana did was very important accountability reporting about how the CIA and the rest of the U.S. government have been conducting the war on terror," Downie said. "Whether or not the actions of the CIA or other agencies have interfered with anyone's civil liberties is important information for Americans to know and is an important part of our jobs."

In an effort to stem leaks, the Bush administration launched several initiatives earlier this year targeting journalists and national security employees. They include FBI probes, extensive polygraphing inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

The effort has been widely seen among members of the media, and some legal experts, as the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and has worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

Dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office. Others have been prohibited, in writing, from discussing even unclassified issues related to the domestic surveillance program. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering tougher penalties for leaking.

Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate intelligence panel, welcomed the CIA's actions. In a statement, he said leaks had "hindered our efforts in the war against al Qaeda," although he did not say how.

"I am pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has identified the source of certain unauthorized disclosures, and I hope that the agency, and the [intelligence] community as a whole, will continue to vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases," Roberts said.

Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.


April 23, 2006
The New York Times
Colleagues Say C.I.A. Analyst Played by Rules
By DAVID S. CLOUD
WASHINGTON, April 22 — Mary O. McCarthy, the intelligence officer dismissed on Friday after being accused of leaking information to reporters about the Central Intelligence Agency's overseas prisons, once was responsible for guarding some of the nation's most sensitive secrets.

As a senior National Security Council aide for intelligence from 1996 to 2001, Ms. McCarthy was known as a low-key professional who paid special attention to preventing White House leaks of classified information and covert operations, several current and former government officials said.

When she disagreed with decisions on intelligence operations, they say, she registered her complaints through internal government channels.

But on Thursday she was stripped of her security clearance and escorted out of C.I.A. headquarters, government officials said, after failing a polygraph examination and confessing that she had disclosed classified information to reporters, including material for The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning articles about secret C.I.A. facilities in Eastern Europe used to interrogate captured Al Qaeda members and other terror suspects.

Ms. McCarthy, who has not been charged with any crime, did not respond to telephone calls and an e-mail message. But former colleagues who worked with her at the C.I.A. and the White House say they had trouble fathoming her as a leaker. Some said they flatly refused to believe the accusations.

"We're talking about a person with great integrity who played by the book and, as far as I know, never deviated from the rules," said Steven Simon, a National Security Council aide in the Clinton administration who worked closely with Ms. McCarthy.

Others said it was possible that Ms. McCarthy, who began attending law school at night several years ago and had announced her intention to retire from the C.I.A., had grown disenchanted with the methods that the Bush administration used for handling Al Qaeda prisoners since the September 2001 terror attacks and felt she had no alternative except to go to the press.

"I have no idea what her motive was, but there is a lot of dissension within the agency and it seems to be a rather unhappy place," said Richard J. Kerr, a former C.I.A. deputy director. Mr. Kerr called Ms. McCarthy "quite a good, substantive person on the issues I dealt with her on."

She also gradually came to have one foot in the secret world of intelligence and another in the public world of policy.

She went from lower-level analyst working in obscurity at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va,. to someone at home "downtown," as Washington is called by agency veterans, where policy is more openly fought over and leaks are far more common.
Though she was a C.I.A. employee for more than 20 years, associates said, her early professional experience was not in the world of spying and covert operations.

After a previous career that one former colleague said included time as a flight attendant, she earned a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota. She worked for a Swiss company "conducting risk assessments for international businesses and banks," Ms. McCarthy wrote in a brief biography she provided to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also called the 9/11 Commission. She testified before the commission in 2003. Her biography notes that she once wrote "a book on the social history of Ghana."

Even after joining the C.I.A. in 1984, Ms. McCarthy, who was hired as intelligence analyst for Africa, was far from a covert operative. In the late 1980's, she was promoted to management, taking over as chief of the Central America and Caribbean section, though she had no previous experience in the region, said a former officer who worked with her.

By 1991, she was working as deputy to one of the agency's most senior analysts, Charles E. Allen, whose job as "National Intelligence Officer for Warning" was to anticipate major national security threats. Ms. McCarthy took over the job from Mr. Allen in 1994 and moved to the Clinton White House two years later.

Rand Beers, who at the time was Mr. Clinton's senior intelligence aide on the National Security Council, said he hired Ms. McCarthy to be his deputy. "Anybody who works for Charlie Allen and then replaces him has got to be good," said Mr. Beers, who went on to serve as an adviser to the 2004 presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate. She took over from Mr. Beers as the senior director for intelligence programs in 1998.

Though she was not among the C.I.A. officials who briefed Mr. Clinton every morning on the latest intelligence, she "worked on some of the most sensitive programs," a former White House aide said, and was responsible for notifying Congress when covert action was being undertaken.

The aide and some others who spoke about Ms. McCarthy were granted anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing her official duties because she be under criminal investigation.

When the Bush administration took office in 2001, Ms. McCarthy's career seemed to stall. A former Bush administration official who worked with her said that, although she was a career C.I.A. employee, as a holdover from the Clinton administration she was regarded with suspicion and was gradually eased out of her job as senior director for intelligence programs. She left several months into Mr. Bush's first term.

But she did not return immediately to a new assignment at C.I.A. headquarters. She took an extended sabbatical at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization. In late 2003, she testified publicly before the 9/11 Commission about ways to reorganize the intelligence agencies to prevent another major terror attack.

She served on the Markle Foundation's "Task Force on National Security in the Information Age," a group of academics as well as current and former government officials working on recommendations for sharing classified information more widely within the government, according to a report issued by the group. The report identifies Ms. McCarthy as a "nongovernment" expert.

H. Andrew Schwartz, a spokesman for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Ms. McCarthy's relationship with the organization lasted from 2001 to 2003. Several associates of Ms. McCarthy say she returned to the C.I.A. in 2004, taking a job in the inspector general's office. That year, public records show, she contributed $2,000 to Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Married with one child, she also began attending law school at night, two former co-workers said, and talked about switching to a career in public interest law.

After an article last November in The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A. was sending terror suspects to clandestine detention centers in several countries, including some in Eastern Europe, Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, ordered polygraphs for intelligence officers who knew about certain "compartmented" programs, including the secret detention centers for terror suspects.

Polygraphs are given routinely to agency employees at least every five years, but special ones can be ordered when a security breach is suspected.

Government officials said that after Ms. McCarthy's polygraph examination showed the possibility of deception, the examiner confronted her and she disclosed having conversations with reporters.

But some former C.I.A. employees who know Ms. McCarthy remain unconvinced, arguing that the pressure from Mr. Goss and others in the Bush administration to plug leaks may have led the agency to focus on an employee on the verge of retirement, whose work at the White House during the Clinton administration had long raised suspicions within the current administration.

"It looks to me like Mary is being used as a sacrificial lamb," said Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. officer who worked for Ms. McCarthy in the agency's Latin America section.

April 22, 2006
The New York Times
C.I.A. Fires Senior Officer Over Leaks
By DAVID JOHNSTON and SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, April 21 — The Central Intelligence Agency has dismissed a senior career officer for disclosing classified information to reporters, including material for Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Washington Post about the agency's secret overseas prisons for terror suspects, intelligence officials said Friday.

The C.I.A. would not identify the officer, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy, a veteran intelligence analyst who until 2001 was senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, where she served under President Bill Clinton and into the Bush administration.

At the time of her dismissal, Ms. McCarthy was working in the agency's inspector general's office, after a stint at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an organization in Washington that examines global security issues.

The dismissal of Ms. McCarthy provided fresh evidence of the Bush administration's determined efforts to stanch leaks of classified information. The Justice Department has separately opened preliminary investigations into the disclosure of information to The Post, for its articles about secret prisons, as well as to The New York Times, for articles last fall that disclosed the existence of a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants supervised by the National Security Agency. Those articles were also recognized this week with a Pulitzer Prize.

Several former veteran C.I.A. officials said the dismissal of an agency employee over a leak was rare and perhaps unprecedented. One official recalled the firing of a small number of agency contractors, including retirees, for leaking several years ago.

The dismissal was announced Thursday at the C.I.A. in an e-mail message sent by Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, who has made the effort to stop unauthorized disclosure of secrets a priority. News of the dismissal was first reported Friday by MSNBC.

Ms. McCarthy's departure followed an internal investigation by the C.I.A.'s Security Center, as part of an intensified effort that began in January to scrutinize employees who had access to particularly classified information. She was given a polygraph examination, confronted about answers given to the polygraph examiner and confessed, the government officials said. On Thursday, she was stripped of her security clearance and escorted out of C.I.A. headquarters. Ms. McCarthy did not reply Friday evening to messages left by e-mail and telephone.

"A C.I.A. officer has been fired for unauthorized contact with the media and for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information," said a C.I.A. spokesman, Paul Gimigliano. "This is a violation of the secrecy agreement that is the condition of employment with C.I.A. The officer has acknowledged the contact and the disclosures."
Mr. Gimigliano said the Privacy Act prohibited him from identifying the employee.

Intelligence officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the dismissal resulted from "a pattern of conduct" and not from a single leak, but that the case involved in part information about secret C.I.A. detention centers that was given to The Washington Post.

Ms. McCarthy's departure was another unsettling jolt for the C.I.A., battered in recent years over faulty prewar intelligence in Iraq, waves of senior echelon departures after the appointment of Mr. Goss as director and the diminished standing of the agency under the reorganization of the country's intelligence agencies.

The C.I.A.'s inquiry focused in part on identifying Ms. McCarthy's role in supplying information for a Nov. 2, 2005, article in The Post by Dana Priest, a national security reporter. The article reported that the intelligence agency was sending terror suspects to clandestine detention centers in several countries, including sites in Eastern Europe.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, said on its Web site that he could not comment on the firing because he did not know the details. "As a general principle," he said, "obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press."

Eric C. Grant, a spokesman for the newspaper, would not address whether any C.I.A. employee was a source for the secret prison articles, but said, "No Post reporter has been subpoenaed or talked to investigators in connection with this matter."

The disclosures about the prisons provoked an outcry among European allies and set off protests among Democrats in Congress. The leak prompted the C.I.A. to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Lawyers at the Justice Department were notified of Ms. McCarthy's dismissal, but no new referral was issued, law enforcement officials said. They said that they would review the case, but that her termination could mean she would be spared criminal prosecution.

In January, current and former government officials said, Mr. Goss ordered polygraphs for intelligence officers who knew about certain "compartmented" programs, including the secret detention centers for terrorist suspects. Polygraphs are routinely given to agency employees at least every five years, but special polygraphs can be ordered when a security breach is suspected.

The results of such exams are regarded as important indicators of deception among some intelligence officials. But they are not admissible as evidence in court — and the C.I.A.'s reliance on the polygraph in Ms. McCarthy's case could make it more difficult for the government to prosecute her.

"This was a very aggressive internal investigation," said one former C.I.A. officer with more than 20 years' experience. "Goss was determined to find the source of the secret-jails story."

With the encouragement of the White House and some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Goss has repeatedly spoken out against leaks, saying foreign intelligence officials had asked him whether his agency was incapable of keeping secrets.

In February, Mr. Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "the damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission." He said it was his hope "that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

"I believe the safety of this nation and the people of this country deserves nothing less," he said.

Ms. McCarthy has been a well-known figure in intelligence circles. She began her career at the agency as an analyst and then was a manager in the intelligence directorate, working at the African and Latin America desks, according to a biography by the strategic studies center. With an advanced degree from the University of Minnesota, she has taught, written a book on the Gold Coast and was director of the social science data archive at Yale University.

Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.

Republican lawmakers praised the C.I.A. effort. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "I am pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has identified the source of certain unauthorized disclosures, and I hope that the agency, and the community as a whole, will continue to vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases."

Several former intelligence officials — who were granted anonymity after requesting it for what they said were obvious reasons under the circumstances — were divided over the likely effect of the dismissal on morale. One veteran said the firing would not be well-received coming so soon after the disclosure of grand jury testimony by Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff that President Bush in 2003 approved the leak of portions of a secret national intelligence estimate on Iraqi weapons.

"It's a terrible situation when the president approves the leak of a highly classified N.I.E., and people at the agency see management as so disastrous that they feel compelled to talk to the press," said one former C.I.A. officer with extensive overseas experience.

But another official, whose experience was at headquarters, said most employees would approve Mr. Goss's action. "I think for the vast majority of people this will be good for morale," the official said. "People didn't like some of their colleagues deciding for themselves what secrets should be in The Washington Post or The New York Times."

Paul R. Pillar, who was the agency's senior analyst for the Middle East until he retired late last year, said: "Classified information is classified information. It's not to be leaked. It's not to be divulged." He has recently criticized the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence about Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons programs.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting for this article.


White House
17 June 1998
BERGER APPOINTS MCCARTHY SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR INTELLIGENCE
(And senior director on NSC Staff for intelligence programs) (370)

Washington -- National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger announced June 16 the appointment of Mary O'Neil McCarthy as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs.

She succeeds Rand Beers in that post, an announcement by the office of the White House Press Secretary said.

Mary McCarthy had been Director of Intelligence Programs on the National Security Council Staff since July 1996. Previously, said the White House, Mrs. McCarthy served as the National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1994-1996 and as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1991-1994. She began government service in 1984 as an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

McCarthy has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University and an M.A and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Following is the White House text:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 16, 1998

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger announced today the appointment of Mary O'Neil McCarthy as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs. Mrs. McCarthy succeeds Rand Beers.

Mary McCarthy had been Director of Intelligence Programs on the National Security Council Staff since July 1996. Previously, Mrs. McCarthy served as the National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1994-1996 and as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Warning from 1991-1994. She began government service in 1984 as an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Prior to her government service, Mrs. McCarthy held positions in both the private sector and academia. She was a Director, then Vice President of BERI, SA, a firm conducting financial and political risk assessments, from 1979-1984. Previously, she had taught at the University of Minnesota and was Director of the Social Science Data
Archive at Yale University.

Mrs. McCarthy has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University and an M.A and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Michael McCarthy have a son, Michael.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Commo Check

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

A friend recently pointed out that the contact link had been broken between my website and my email inbox. My webmaster has assured me that it has been fixed and I can now receive your comments, queries and criticisms. Let ‘um rip!

After a refreshing Spring holiday, I am back in Washington seeing what the April showers will bring to the world of national security and intelligence. In all reality, it is quiet here in the sense that everyone is keeping their heads down focusing on the mission. I take that as a good sign from the intelligence world. The military is a different story.

The Revolt of the Generals is like living in a world of delayed reaction. The intelligence community revolted in 2003, screaming that the intelligence on Iraq was being cooked by the politicians and the politicized intelligence community management. Now the Generals are having their say, just now piping up on just how poorly Rumsfeld has run the war, dismissing the intelligence on the existence, let alone the nature, of the insurgency. Some critics are saying that the Generals are just trying to deflect blame from the military on our losses. Maybe, but that does not change the substance of their statements, i.e. that the civilian leadership has lost its listening ears because it is too ideological and the war enterprise is in jeopardy as a consequence.

Will Rumsfeld be run out? I doubt it. President Bush is very loyal to his lieutenants. He did not get rid of DCI Tenet after 9/11. He is still sticking by CIA Director Goss. Bush has set the standard of no accountability in this administration. It is hard to imagine that he would change that now.

IC Taking a Bit More Direction

DDNI Hayden has informed us on the progress the IC is making towards integration and coordination. Walter Pincus pokes a bit of fun at the ODNI by quoting the General on just how arduous the transformation process has been. Personally, I find the honesty refreshing. What comes out from the press conference that Hayden gave is how little force is being used to marshal the IC along. I was left with the impression of “herding” rather than “directing”. Perhaps herding is all you can expect when vast resources lay outside of the DNI’s control.

Intelligence Office Gives Progress Report
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 14, 2006; A11

The 16 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community are "taking a bit more direction" from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, created last year to oversee and coordinate their work, and criticism of the new agency in Congress and elsewhere is "more about velocity and not about direction," its second-in-command, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, said yesterday.

"I have confidence in this enterprise," said Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence, who met with reporters in an unusual, on-the-record, two-hour session with eight of his senior associates to discuss the agency's first year.

After the intelligence failures over the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, Congress created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, now held by John D. Negroponte, to be the president's principal intelligence adviser. The office was charged with supervising the intelligence budget, ensuring that agencies coordinate their activities and share information, and ensuring that reports to policymakers and Congress are objective and timely.

Although most of the reporters focused their questions on Iran's nuclear program, Hayden and his team wanted to discuss the processes they have established and to answer criticisms that the office's growing staff has become a new layer of bureaucracy that slows intelligence decision making.

Hayden said the office is coordinating the various agencies, not sending orders down. He said its role is more like that of a coach on the sidelines of a soccer game than that of a football quarterback calling the plays. But one senior intelligence official, told of Hayden's metaphor, said, "In children's soccer, all the kids run to the ball, and that's somewhat like what is still going on in the community."

Hayden and his colleagues made it clear that they believe their intelligence on Iran's nuclear program reflects the lessons learned from Iraq, including being clear about the reliability of sources and encouraging skepticism about other analysts' views.

They repeated their belief that Tehran is years away from having nuclear weapons capability and said they are awaiting confirmation of Iran's claim this week that it had successfully enriched uranium. Kenneth C. Brill, director of the new National Counterproliferation Center, a division of the intelligence office, recalled that Iran had previously claimed to have multiple centrifuges for enrichment, and "that turned out to be a Potemkin village."

Patrick F. Kennedy, the director of management for the intelligence office, said its staff will have 1,539 members next year. Almost two-thirds of the current members are from staffs that the new office absorbed, and the number of new personnel is below the 500 authorized by Congress, Kennedy said.

Many staff members will come together for the first time next week when they move into offices on the top two floors of the new Defense Intelligence Agency office building at Bolling Air Force Base.

Thomas Fingar, who directs the office's analysis activities and is chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said there is new cooperation among analysts, collectors of intelligence and the teams of experts in various agencies in handling specific issues. He did not directly answer whether an analysis had been done of the impact of a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Asked about charges that Bush and other policymakers had misused intelligence in past public statements, Fingar said the "fact-checking exercise" involved in reviewing speeches has been "ratcheted up," but "throwing raspberries" -- criticism -- after public pronouncements is "not part of the job."

The officials said the intelligence office has established a National Intelligence Priorities Framework, a three-tiered listing by importance of about 30 intelligence targets, signed by President Bush. They did not provide the classified list but conceded that the top tier includes terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China.

Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr., the office's deputy in charge of "customer outcomes," said it was the first time a president had signed off on such a document. But several current and former senior intelligence officials said later that both the Clinton and first Bush administrations had similar prioritized lists of intelligence missions.

The officials described one previously unpublicized program that brings together the top ten or so senior science and technology experts in the bigger agencies to find ways to work on common problems. Describing efforts to break down barriers to cooperation, Eric C. Haseltine, who directs the intelligence office's science and technology section, said, "The boulder is moving."


Declassification Antics

The National Archives has admitted to a poor decision on secretly permitting the IC to withdraw declassified documents from the Archives and reclassify them. This is a step in the right direction. Now, we need to address what is driving the reclassification. The CIA opposed the mandatory classification law from the very beginning, fought in court against it and when faced with losing the case, conceded. Once the spot light was off, the CIA ran a secret op to get its way, re-classification. This is typical CIA action, fall back rather than lose a court case and set a negative precedence and then do an end run when nobody is looking. This is how the CIA treated declassification of the intelligence budget in the 1990s.

What confuses me is a statement in the below article to the effect that the CIA first tried to create archival chaos (that must have driven the librarians bonkers) by mixing up the documents so that they could not be retrieved. Why the National Archives would respond to such behavior by agreeing to secretly withdraw the information escapes me. If I were a librarian, I would just throw the offenders out of the library, not the documents.

Archives Pledges to End Secret Agreements
By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2006; A04

The National Archives will no longer enter into secret agreements with federal agencies that want to withdraw records from public access on Archives shelves and will do more to disclose when documents are removed for national security reasons.

The new policy cannot guarantee full disclosure, however, because in some cases federal regulations limit the Archives' ability to reveal which agency is reviewing records and why, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the Archives.

"What we're striving for is transparency here on our part," Cooper said. "We can't control the agencies."

Allen Weinstein, the archivist of the United States, announced the policy change yesterday after the release of a second secret classified memorandum, this one between the CIA and the Archives. In it Archives officials agreed in 2001 to conceal official CIA efforts to withdraw thousands of historical documents from the Archives, even though the records had been declassified.

The memo, similar to a 2002 agreement with the Air Force, spelled out procedures the CIA and Archives staff would follow in withdrawing records that the CIA believed may have been improperly declassified. In a background paper yesterday, Archives officials said they sought that agreement because a CIA and State Department review of 56 boxes in 1999 "resulted in a significant mishandling of the records, such that the order of the documents in many boxes was lost."

In return for stricter handling, however, the Archives agreed to help the CIA and the Air Force keep the public in the dark. That was a mistake, said Weinstein, who became the archivist in 2005.

"Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being," he said in a written statement yesterday. ". . . If records must be removed for reasons of national security, the American people will always, at the very least, know when it occurs and how many records are affected."

Independent historian Matthew M. Aid uncovered the reclassification program last summer when his requests for formerly available documents were delayed or denied. In February, the Archives acknowledged that about 9,500 records totaling more than 55,000 pages had been withdrawn and reclassified as secret since 1999.

The program dates to the Clinton administration, when the CIA and other agencies began recalling documents they believed were improperly released under a 1995 executive order requiring declassification of many historical records at least 25 years old. The pace of removals picked up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Last month Weinstein imposed a moratorium on withdrawing documents until Archives officials complete an audit of the removed material. Results are expected April 26.

One possible change, Cooper said, is a central tracking system that would include more detailed notices in the Archives files to indicate whether a document had been removed for national security reasons. But the executive order governing the review of such documents permits agencies to conceal their identities without the Archives' consent if revealing them could pose a threat to national security, she said.

"There is some wiggle room for us here, but not a lot," she said.

Nevertheless, the Archives' decision to shun secret agreements is a step forward, said Thomas S. Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research library in Washington. "For the National Archives to go into cahoots with the CIA and Air Force to mislead researchers about what was going on was over the top, and a strong signal of a secrecy system that is genuinely broken," he said.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Speaking Out and Up

By Melissa Boyle Mahle

CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) John Kringen is on a public outreach mission. He has been speaking around town and in the hinterland sending the message that his shop at the CIA is changing, for the better. He is addressing head on the charge that the CIA is not responding to the recommendations of the various investigative reports recommending specific changes.

It is interesting that DDI Kringen feels a need to do outreach via an op-ed in the Washington Post. It shows that the CIA “gets it”, meaning that public confidence in intelligence capabilities cannot be restored through the more traditional methods. Historically, the CIA either ignored the issue or assured Congress in the annual threat briefing that the CIA had it covered. Note how former DCI Tenet treated 9/11 in the couple years that followed. He assured Congress that drastic changes had been made and the CIA was on the right course. His statements sounded hollow once the Iraq WMD mess broke and the investigative report showed just how little had changed.

This begs the question on whether Kringen is spinning or testifying to real progress. I actually think it is the latter. My analyst friends, although they have many gripes, tell me that they system is going through a period of dynamic change. Living through reform is hard, but at the end of the day, if done right, it is worth the pain. What Kringen needs to do better is to ease the pain and chaos a bit. Retention is a problem.

The CIA is not healthy. It suffers from poor leadership, poor performance and poor morale. Turning around such a big ship requires a dramatic change in environment. Goss has not been able to do that as he is viewed as isolated on the Seventh Floor. The outside world sees the weakness in variety of indirect ways, from the bog-down in Iraq to the endless hunt for Osama. It doesn’t see the CIA’s successes, of which there are many. The CIA needs to project these successes, in an indirect way if security will not permit otherwise. Kringen’s outreach doesn’t hurt but will not gain much traction in the absence of more tangible signs of success.

Washington Post
How We've Improved Intelligence
Minimizing the Risk of 'Groupthink'
By John A. Kringen

Nearly one year ago, President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction released its report identifying shortcomings in the intelligence community. Many of the commission's judgments dealt with analysis, the discipline I lead at the CIA. The primary criticism was that our analysts were "too wedded to their assumptions" and that our tradecraft -- the way we analyze a subject and communicate our findings -- needed strengthening.

We did not try to hide from the criticism or make excuses. Our assessment of Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities was flawed. The fact that foreign intelligence services made similar errors in no way absolved us of ours.

We in the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) have been intent on improving our work by addressing the commission's recommendations -- and those of several other self-initiated and external reviews -- head-on. We have taken many steps in the past year to assure the president, Congress and the American people that they can be confident in the integrity of our assessments.

CIA Director Porter Goss has encouraged innovation and creativity in how the CIA approaches its mission. In the DI, we have been diligent in integrating fresh thinking and new perspectives into our analysis. Our in-house training center, the Sherman Kent School, features lessons learned from the Iraq WMD case; they are part of tradecraft courses taken by our analysts, including every recruit entering the DI. Our newest analysts -- and all first-line supervisors -- also have completed classes on alternative analysis and other analytic techniques.

We have established analytic tradecraft units across the directorate, including the office drafting our WMD assessments, that promote the use of alternative and competitive analysis techniques. DI analysts routinely engage academics and outside experts -- last year we did so about 100 times a month at conferences or informal meetings -- to test hypotheses and minimize the potential for being ensnared by "groupthink." And we have a staff that routinely evaluates the quality of our assessments.

We have enhanced the precision and transparency of our written products, making a point of stating clearly and upfront what we know -- and what we don't. Our analysts now offer policymakers greater context on sourcing, including an intelligence asset's access and biases, thanks to increased information-sharing between the DI and the National Clandestine Service. A computerized system for identifying recalled or modified raw intelligence reports alerts analysts to sources whose information is determined to be faulty.

When Porter Goss selected me as director of intelligence, he expressed his concern that for too long we had concentrated on satisfying the daily demand for current intelligence assessments to the detriment of preparing for the strategic threats and opportunities of tomorrow. What are the implications of rapid advances in technology for U.S. national security? What are the challenges and opportunities posed by Islamic political activism in the Middle East and South Asia? Is there another A.Q. Khan proliferation network out there?

The DI's strategic research program for fiscal 2006 focuses on identifying and assessing long-term trends and emerging foreign threats that go beyond today's headlines. DI analysts also participate heavily in long-term analytic projects led by our colleagues in the intelligence community, especially the National Intelligence Council. The benefit is clear: Our policymakers will have a better idea of what might lie over the horizon.

Even as we strengthen our strategic analytical capabilities, we continue to be the principal source for current intelligence analysis that the director of national intelligence provides to our most senior policymakers. Not only are we helping to staff important DNI components, but DI analysts are also in demand throughout the intelligence community.

The DI is building bench strength with highly qualified recruits to meet the demands of strategic global coverage. We brought in more new analysts in fiscal 2005 than in any year in our history, breaking our previous record by more than 50 percent. More important than the numbers, however, are the education and life experiences our employees bring to the job. Half of our applicants in process claim fluent-to-native capacity in a foreign language, and many have spent significant time in their region of specialty.

Above all, we seek to foster in each analyst a sense of individual initiative, responsibility and ownership, as well as the recognition that providing analysis vital to our national security requires challenging orthodoxy and constantly testing our assumptions. Mastering the fundamentals of tradecraft and building expertise are critical, but we also must aspire to a level of creativity and insight that allows us to look beyond the obvious and flag the unexpected. Only then can we truly fulfill our obligation to help protect the American people.

The writer is director of intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Outside Voices

How meaningful is the CIA’s new-found desire to listen to outside voices? Walter Pincus writes in the Washington Post that the CIA is listening to Judge Richard Posner and his critic of intelligence reform. I would have been more impressed if the audience was an off-site meeting for senior leadership of CIA. Instead, it was to the Office of General Council—the CIA lawyers that actually practice law.

While I have not yet read Judge Posner’s new book, I have read his earlier writings. Posner accurately framed the issue on reform as risking a mere movement of the deck chairs. In some ways, his warnings have proved to be prescient. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has turned into another layer of bureaucracy without the desired added value. I, however, do not think it is without merit. The ODNI is re-working the processes by which the intelligence community (IC) functions. This is very important because the IC cannot be transformed without fundamental changes in process from the very bottom of the structure. The problem is the ODNI has bit off more than it can chew at a reasonable rate. To outside observers, it looks like the only thing Negroponte is doing is delivering the President is morning brief. This looks bad and is bad.

If we think about how the debate unfolded on the power of the DNI, we can see that the focus was on the wrong set of issues. It was argued that for the DNI to be empowered, he had to be seen as the premier intel officer that could speak for the IC to the President. In the old structure, that was defined by physical access to the President and the one thing the DCI did every day that gave him physical access was the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). So the reformers focused on who was going to be given the authority over the PDB as the issue to define the new power structure.

The results were disempowerment of the position of the DCI, but not empowerment of the DNI. If you tease these developments out a bit, you will find that the PDB actually had a spurious relationship with the power equation. The DNI needs to be a CEO. He does not need to centralize every activity in his office suite. He does need to have firm control over the reins. If the production line is putting out faulty products, he has to be able to reach down to production management and direct change. He does not relocate his office to the factory or vice a versa. Agents of change cannot be located exclusively in the CEO suite, but must be distributed throughout the organizations earmarked for change. Finally, in the business world, a CEO would never try to change an entire enterprise in one fell swoop. There would be a business plan with bench marks so the employees could see where they fit in the transformation process. There will always be uncertainty, but at a minimum the framework would be understood. Right now, the framework, or vision, is missing.

Intelligence Redo Is Harshly Judged
A Judge Critiques 9/11 Overhaul, and Finds It Top-Heavy
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 31, 2006; A17

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner sharply criticized the restructuring of U.S. intelligence agencies last week, telling CIA lawyers that the overhaul has done nothing to rectify flaws exposed by al-Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that the changes "in the end . . . will amount to rather little."

Posner, who has written extensively on intelligence matters, questioned "the wisdom and consequences" of the intelligence overhaul passed by Congress in December 2004, which he said was based on "a deep misunderstanding of the limitations of national security intelligence."

That misunderstanding, Posner said, came from a naive belief that intelligence agencies can somehow be made infallible. "Failure in a democratic society," he said, "demands a response that promises, however improbably, to prevent future failures. [And] the preferred response is a reorganization, because it is at once dramatic and relatively cheap."

Posner made his remarks last Friday at an off-site conference of the CIA's office of general counsel, and a revised text was made available to The Washington Post.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said yesterday that the judge was invited because he is a well-known writer on intelligence issues and that "the CIA believes its officers should hear a range of informed opinion on issues affecting their work."

Posner has a book being published next week, "Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform." His book "Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11" was published last spring.

In Posner's analysis, the director of national intelligence (DNI), created by Congress to be the president's top intelligence adviser, was given too much to do. DNI John D. Negroponte oversees the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies, including those at the Pentagon. Negroponte's staff, which has grown to about 1,000, "has become a new bureaucracy layered on top of the intelligence community," Posner said.

In the process, he said, the DNI's office has absorbed "many of the responsibilities of the CIA and demoted the agency to little more than a spy service." He points out that Negroponte runs the National Counterterrorism Center, which used to be part of the CIA. The agency also prepared the President's Daily Brief, the most sensitive intelligence delivered to President Bush and his top national security team each morning, but that now is prepared by the DNI.

At the same time, the DNI has floundered in its task of coordinating the agencies within the intelligence community, according to Posner, in part because of "three distinct and largely incompatible intelligence cultures that are poorly balanced: military intelligence, civilian intelligence and criminal investigation intelligence."

The military culture, with its "up-and-out promotions system . . . discipline and strong mission orientation," views the CIA with "a degree of hostility and disdain, which the agency reciprocates," Posner said. In addition, CIA and Pentagon intelligence officers compete in strategic intelligence work, a situation aggravated by the fact that the military operates the spy satellite agencies, whose capabilities it often does not wish to share.

Meanwhile, the FBI culture, focused in the past on catching criminals, is having problems with intelligence gathering because, as Posner put it, "the aim is to prevent the crime, not punish the criminals." Counterterrorist intelligence, he said, requires "casting a very wide net, following up on clues, assembling bits of information, and often failing because there is as yet no crime."

Complicating these differences, he noted, was the "profound political imbalance" extant among the three intelligence cultures. The military "is immensely popular, immensely powerful politically" and "ambitious to expand its intelligence activities under the forceful leadership of Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld and Under Secretary for Intelligence [Stephen A.] Cambone." Posner added that for "all these reasons" Pentagon intelligence is "out of the practical control of the DNI."

He said the FBI "is also immensely popular . . . and politically powerful . . . and stubbornly resistant to change." The CIA was left, Posner said, "in a situation of considerable vulnerability, as an unpopular agency and therefore a natural scapegoat" for intelligence failures of Sept. 11 and prewar Iraq.

Posner said that the DNI should have been given only a coordinating role in U.S. intelligence, and that the CIA director, now Porter J. Goss, should have remained the president's senior intelligence adviser. That approach would have eliminated the requirement that the DNI's office build its own bureaucracy of analysts, he said.