sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Keeping Secrets (US Clandestine Service)

There is an old maxim that maintains that two people are able to keep a secret if one of them is dead. I don't know the source, but can identify with the sentiment.

How open should the US Government be when operating its intelligence and counterintelligence services? The question has been debated to death. (LINK) The Clandestine Service of the United States exists within the Directorate of Operations (DO) of the Central Intelligence Agency. A debate within the DO has raged for years on just how secretive the Clandestine Service needs to be.

N. Richard Kinsman (article linked above) writes, "If the Clandestine Service (CS) is rendered ineffective due to the Agency's inability or unwillingness to insist on rational and reasonable applications of openness to the business of intelligence, we will be found guilty of a self-inflicted intelligence failure that could prove fatal." Kinsman maintains, therefore, that a degree of openness is the key to a successful intelligence service.

The Clandestine Service (and the larger intelligence community) is driven by demands placed on it by foreign policy decisions made within the US Administration and Congress and by events that drive many of those policies that originate in other countries. 

Should the Clandestine Service even reside within the CIA? While that may sound like a radical question, its mission is clearly different from the mandate placed on the CIA as the nation's clearinghouse for intelligence. The Clandestine Service (LINK) is charged with collecting information from human sources and engaging in covert action at the direction of the President, while remaining responsive to Congress. Is the CIA "secret enough" to manage the business of the Clandestine Service? The present CIA is very politically correct within the Washington bureaucracy. Do we want a politically correct Clandestine Service? How secret is too secret. 

Here is your chance to comment and be heard!



7 comments:

  1. I think we need to completely rethink what we classify. I don't think that backdoor political deals should be a secret.

    But yes, the CIA has grown into a large ineffective bureaucracy. A more focused covert approach makes more sense to me.

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  2. You put a kinder gentler administration in power, you're going to get a kinder gentler CIA. Flower Power Dude!

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  3. The Clandestine Service (LINK) is charged with collecting information from human sources and engaging in covert action at the direction of the President, while remaining responsive to Congress.

    As this is under the direction of what I feel is an Anti-American ideals president, can one assume we will continue to have leaks on things that in reality should be secure and secret? Of course! There has been and always will be the problem of too many people getting the word and in turn blabbing. Tell a Senate committee in secret, some aide or Senator or whatever will leak it if against it. As our intelligence agency has been emasculated over the years by the kooks in congress and leftist Presidents such as our current one, the argument that openness is good is a moot point.

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  4. The present administration thinks "fatal" means that someone else gets hurt, not them.

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  5. It should NOT be under the CIA, that's about like the fox watching the hen house... they have thrown a number of covert agents under the bus for political gain. The problem is ANY bureaucracy is going to be less than effective when it is run by a revolving door of political appointees. I'd put it under the military, who actually understand security requirements. Just my .02 worth...

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  6. We need untouchables without a doubt. We need intelligence that is completely outside political pressures or partisan leadership. I have my doubts this actually exists.

    In an extreme case, having the total sum of American intelligence under the 'direction', let alone command of janet is too much to bear to think about.

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  7. I left a comment (scathing), but it wasn't here when I came back?

    I know they tap my phones...but I had my tinfoil hat on!

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