Monday, July 02, 2007
Joe Mazzafro

Before proceeding it is important that I disclose that I am biased favorably towards George Tenet from when I was privileged to work with him when he was the Deputy Director of CIA and Bosnia was the issue when I was at the JCS J2. As a career Naval Intelligence Officer, most of my professional views about the practice of intelligence where informed and shaped by William O. Studeman as he rapidly rose in rank from Commander (0-5) to Admiral (0-10). I am currently serving at Admiral Studeman’s invitation on this year’s Defense Science Board Summer Study’s Intelligence Panel.Like many of you I have just read (OK, I listened to the book tape) George Tenet’s AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM My Years at the CIA, and like some of you I was in the audience on 19 June to hear Bill Studeman’s remarks as he accepted the Baker Award. Both speak to the state of America’s Intelligence Community (IC) ----- Tenet in terms of explanation and Studeman in terms of prescription. ---- in an unintended issue/response complimentary way.If nothing else, At the Center of the Storm offers an important perspective on the history of the CIA and by extension the IC from 1996 to today as radical Islamic Jihadism and nuclear proliferation changed the strategic threat calculus for the U.S. in an environment of globalization with a unipolar superpower. Much was accomplished on Tenet’s watch as Director Central Intelligence (DCI), but his memoir only tacitly admits that the failure of IC to effectively warn about the impending 9/11 attacks and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserting that Iraq had Chemical and Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) have caused both an internal and external crisis of confidence in America’s IC.Not responding to Tenet’s book, but to this crisis in confidence that America’s IC is trying to escape, Bill Studeman offered the Baker Award Dinner audience ten basic principles he has used to guide the practice of intelligence over his 40 year career. These 10 points are offered here in abbreviated form:1. Target Access: intelligence’s first obligation is to achieve deep and persistent penetration and total understanding of your adversaries. 2. Customers (both internal and external): Intelligence must achieve deep penetration, understanding of and connections to our customers. 3. Analyst, Analysis and Sharing: The quality, scope, diversity, and professionalism of our Analysis must be unequaled. The importance information in context means analysis should be placed in a central position in the IC. 4. Human Capital: Since our people, our allies and even our agents are our most important assets, their recruitment, training and education, and career development must be second to none. Our ethics must be of the highest order. Most of all, we must have a coherent succession plan for the IC.5. Security, CI/CE, and Information Assurance: Because deep penetration of our security is what our adversaries are attempting, our security posture needs to be retuned to the technology of threats associated with the information age. Most of our classic security community is not capable of dealing with the technology threats, and the part that is, is under-resourced and not that well aligned. 6. Acquisition and Engineering. Congress, in its wisdom, and over time, has given the DNI and the IC extraordinary acquisition authority to ensure speed, covertness and current relevance of all intelligence means. Given these authorities, Intelligence should be the premier acquirers in the federal government and the most differentiated when it comes to applying great systems engineering. 7. Oversight: The net benefits outweigh the pain of oversight because intelligence is paid to be at the edge of legality and public acceptance all the time, so strong oversight is designed to protect us from ourselves. 8. Governance: The organizational structure of the IC is less important than the IC being fundamentally adaptive, collaborative, and focused for success. Only strong governance processes can give the IC leadership the frequent and deep transparency into what is going on or not going on in and across the IC. 9. Intelligence and Information Warfare: Information Warfare and operations are a discipline that the IC needs to understand far better if intelligence is going to be relevant in this important new National Security domain. 10. Community working and operating seamlessly together is a powerful force multiplier.It doesn’t take a Mensa membership to conclude that if George Tenet had kept the IC true to these 10 enduring principles it would have had a better chance of disrupting the 9/11 plot and not gotten the Iraqi WMD NIE wrong. However, we should remember that Bill Studeman was the Acting DCI as late as 1994, so it’s fair to ask what happened to his influence on the IC? Certainly, those who know George Tenet understand he would readily agree with Bill Studeman’s 10 points and even tried to imbue them into the CIA and IC during his frequent and gregarious interactions with all levels of the IC.My observation is that there are few individuals in the IC (or reading this) who would take significant exception to any of Admiral Studeman’s 10 Points. Yet, there seems to an institutional “tissue rejection” between the first order principles of good intelligence practice and their application in policy and operational settings.Culture across the IC and amongst its agencies is the common explanation for this recurring contradiction between widely accepted principles and common practices in intelligence. That explanation is to shallow for me ------ what do you think?joemaz

Share Your Thoughts:

You have teed up for discussion an important issue for intelligence professionals. How to restore confidence in our profession and processes. Intelligence officers are frequently called upon to make judgments at levels beyond their pay grade and experience. It takes courage to voice views which may diverge from "the command position". I would add to Bill Studeman's ten points, the courage to speak up to seniors and defend one's analytical and estimative judgments. This raises the question, did George Tenet speak up and force senior policy makers to reevaluate their preferred option?

In thinking about Admiral Studeman's comments, it appears that the need for Community-wide systems engineering and acquisition practices will require an acquisition cadre operating with common standards and practices - and against a common architecture, a point made in some of the Committee's white papers. More to the point, integrated capabilities require such an architecture and some means to plan for, acquire, and manage the deployment of systems on a portfolio basis. Building integrated capabilities remains difficult, but there are precedents for doing so.

Joe once again you have captured the essence of a critically important concept and wrapped it in great context. Thanks.

I've been in and around the community for quite a bit and have tried hard to embody the principles Admiral Studeman captures. I have also tried to mimic/learn from his articulation of principles in my particular line of work, forming my "Ten Principles of Enterprise Engineering."

That said, it seems that something else is missing. Maybe it is just the nature of the problem. How do you predict with 100% certainty the course of human events or even the actions of one individual?

Bob Gourley

Points well delivered and well taken, each deserving of serious consideration and implementation. I'd like to concentrate, however, on a combo of (3) and (4), specifically, you can't have one without the other. And more to the point, you can't begin to have (3) until you have adequately prepared for and obtained (4). With that in mind, I want to go on record in this venue by reiterating my call for the establishment of a bricks and mortar United States Intelligence Academy (USIA) -- modeled after the existing service academies -- under the auspices of the DNI. Such an establishment would provide the intellectual, technical, and policy continuity for the whole of the IC. A USIA would immediately provide the credentials for an on-going cadre of true professional intelligence officers and analysts, with (cleared) graduates immediately available to the whole of the IC. A USIA would very quickly alleviate if not altogether eliminate the most onerous characteristics that underlie the spate of intelligence failures of which we (and the public) all are aware, some of which have been tacitly admitted, as pointed out above by JoeMaz. Namely, mutual understanding and appreciation of agency goals, objectives, and missions would be ingrained and embedded at the earliest stages of training;; information-sharing would be promoted and understood as a sine qua non, and it would be the expected norm, as opposed to the normal exception. There are very significant barriers to a USIA, notably manned by those with an honest (and vested) interest in maintaining the status quo, per intelligence recruitment, training, and education. Nonetheless, I maintain that without a USIA we stand a good chance, like Sisyphus, of forever being fated to roll that huge boulder up the mountain, only to see it forever roll back down again. Only in this case the falling boulder represents intelligence failures, and the victim can very well be our Country and our way of life&m.