Friday, June 04, 2004

Senator Hagel and Sam Berger say more 'Pentagon Spy' types coming to a community near you

On last night's Charlie Rose (U.S. PBS network news talk show), Senator Chuck Hagel (R) of the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee, and Samuel Berger, former national security advisor to former President Clinton, bemoaned the current state of the U.S. intelligence community.

They were structured to deal with threats from a single country, the Soviet Union, not the modern world of 200 different countries. If you talked with them about the Soviet Union, they'd tell you things you couldn't read in The New York Times.

Today, if you talk with them about one of the smaller countries with terrorist or proliferation threats, you often get much better information by talking with the "Open Source" community even though they don't have access to classified information. The intelligence community is much smaller than the "Open Source" community and simply lacks expertise in many of these areas of the world, and, despite having access to clandestine resources, often gets things wrong.

Both Samuel Berger and Senator Hagel agreed that, in the future, the intelligence services needs to include information from "Open Source" experts in the academia and the private sector in their analyses. (That would be people like me.)

There has to be some way for the CIA to talk with the "Open Source" community, they said. "We can work around" the classified issues, Senator Hagel. In the 60s and 70s, the CIA did talk with the "Open Source" community in the private sector, but in the 80s [following Vietnam, really] you became stigmatized in the private sector for talking with the CIA [after my lovely "Pentagon Spy" incident, I wonder why.]

Hagel and Berger wanted CIA to "develop the capability" to talk with the "Open Source" community again. (It's nice to be so much in demand.) And they both wanted greater domestic intelligence, although they were uncertain whether this should be in FBI or in a separate agency. They also bemoaned the fact that CIA only received 20% of federal intelligence funding, while Rumsfeld's Department of Defense controlled 80% of the intelligence budget, which they felt was too much power for one cabinet security. Neither Hagel nor Berger though allowing DoD to do domestic surveillance, or develop a capacity to talk with the Open Source community was a good idea.

So, look for more of "The Pentagon Spy" types comings to a community near you, except they'll be working for the CIA or a civilian domestic intelligence agency rather than the highly paid contractors currently employed by DoD.