One criticism this author has always had of the US intelligence community relates not to their actions specifically, but rather to the overall structure and culture of the organizations, namely that they are too analytically oriented and not operationaly oriented. While occasional headlines discuss alleged CIA action and conspiracy theories abound, the fact remains that American intelligence agencies are overwhelmingly analytical with approximately 80% of the organization dedicated to analysis and not operations. Thus, I was quite pleased to read that a similar suggestion has been floated recently although I suspect in this political enviroment, it may be difficult to get off the ground.
America’s military, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies already devote thousands of people and billions of dollars to tracking down top terrorists and insurgents. But even the most successful of these efforts — like going after Iraqi militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — have been “ad hoc” efforts, with units cobbled together from different corners of the government. Report author and retired Lt. Col. George Crawford instead would like to see a permanent group with clear authority, training, doctrine and technology to go after these dangerous individuals. These “manhunting teams would be standing formations, trained to pursue their designated quarry relentlessly for as long as required to accomplish the mission,” he writes.
Sometimes, that will mean operating “in uncooperative countries.” In those cases, the teams must be prepared “to act unilaterally, with no support or coordination with local authorities, in a manner similar to that employed by Israel’s Avner team in response to the Munich Olympics massacre.”
Like the people of a country, intelligence agencies also reflect different culture, values and history. Hence, Russia is and has always been obsessed with counterintelligence from the 1500s until today. Israel, being small and constantly under siege, has small, flexible and action oriented organizations. Oversight is also dramatically different with Russian intelligence operating outside the law until the 1990s (outside, not illegally!) or the fact that British intelligence gets very little oversight from Parliament and reports directly to the PM, none of the congressional nonsense that occurs in the US. Other cultures are also (luckily) devoid of the excessively legalistic culture of the United States which prevents of from both acheiving national goals and in some cases endangers (and ends) the lives of American citizens or allies.
In order for our intelligence organizations to better serve both the American people and the national interest, the following must be done.
1) Downsizing – The size of the organization is inversly proportional to its effectiveness.
2) Action speaks louder than words – Focus more on action which includes everything from improving HUMINT to increasing the size of our operational sections and the pace of action (including assassination, rendition, sabotage, D&D etc)
3) 86 the Lawyers – Intel organizations exist to break foreign laws. Let em! And some people just need killin so let’s quit drafting memos and start sending out hit squads.
4) Less Congress – the US oversight system create extra beauraucracy, guaranteed leaks and cripples our ability to operate. The British or Israeli systems are more effective and still democratic, accountable and semi-transparent.
5) Boost our counterintelligence capability – the Chicoms have stolen ALL our nuclear warhead designs. Enough said.
6) Change the clearance process – The people we need most have the most difficult time being cleared and getting jobs.