ne need not be a 'structuralist' to be familiar with Freud's famous delineation of the divisions of the psyche, into Ego, Id and SuperEgo. The Id in his formulation contains those things repressed or ignored by the waking and conscious Ego.
The American National Security State represented by the coital embrace of permanent government and quasi-socialized, semi-private enterprise is a dark part of the American Id. Yet even under the Warlord's reign of error, fear and incompetence it rarely gets much sustained scrutiny.
Specific and sensationalized matters such as the unconstitutional and unlawful NSA surveillance activities get some spotlight attention. The abolition of habeus corpus made copy for a few news cycles; it might even have received a Keith Olberman comment. And the President casually asserts he can open mail for security reasons, something even LBJ would not have dreamed of doing so brazenly
Under a normally functioning constitutional government with working checks and balances and separation of powers (those are two fundementally different concepts, although related), the National Security Id is held somewhat in check. Under the unified Christian Socialist Authoritarian government from 2001-2006, the American National Security State Id was unshackled and encouraged to follow its darkest impulses.
The full scale of what this rough beast has done may never be known. Not just because of congressional timidity. Or even White House belligerance. But simply that the delegation of permissiveness went so far into the darkest and furthest reaches of the American Id. Plumbing that depth and dredging up to sordid details may be in fact impossible.
The NYTimes item on the Pentagon and CIA collecting information on Americans without any judicial or other oversight or compliance with any and independent legal standards should should shock no one.
William Arkin and Walter Pincus in the WaPo long ago exposed the CounterIntelligence Field Activity has a rogue part of the American National Security Id spying on Quakers and legitimate antiwar protestors as “potential terrorists”.
A Peek At The Dark Id
e do not to our knowledge have any contact with CIFA, but we are not strangers to the American National Security Id. We will say this. The sprawl is huge — far harder to comprehend from mere words on a blog page. From federal labs, to Fortune 500 companies, Think Tanks to private consultancies, to the actual overt covert institutions within the Community and the entire Pentagon apparat — the American National Security Id is a fearsome assemblage of personnel, technology, money and authority.
From Eisenhower's warnings up through 2000, the Id has struggled to break free of its shackles but was largely held in place by constitutional government. And a functioning Id, processing and dreaming of threats, is not a bad thing — the Id did in fact think up airplanes crashing into skyscrapers contra Cher Condi, for example. As the saying goes, however, it should be on tap but never on top.
In such a vast apparat, generalizations are hard to make and should be advanced with great trepidation. So we will emphasize the following caveat: in our experience.
Read more »
egroponte's decision to flee the empty position of DNI should surprise no one. There are two major reasons for what strikes the Stiftung as a smart move: (a) structural, within the inherent limits of the Community itself; and (b) personal preferences.
The degradation of American discourse on these matters continues to amaze — from the empty gabfests on the cable wastelands to what passes now for professional journals (let alone the Entertainment Weeklies masquerading as news magazines). We truly as a people in some ways deserve our current predicament and the catastrophes the Stiftung fears lurk on the horizon.
hen George Tenet essentially destroyed the CIA — the final act in a long trail of disastrous mismanagement being his feckless need to please and have approval from this radicalized White House — the subsequent 9/11 Commission pulled intelligence reform into the pop-political-culture Quisinart.
Suddenly, people who had never given much thought to any of the long term issues in play spent three days on Google and vomited their shallow opinions all over TV and the blogosphere. There was one comical moment when one self-described (and acknowledged as such in our American Idolized media culture) expert on intelligence in 2004 breathlessly reported a Church Committee! And then “broke” news that there was even a Rockefeller Report and something exotic called a Pike Committee. And so forth. Suddenly people 'discovered' FISA, the legislative history from the 1970s, etc. Given the American pop-political culture Quisinart, GIGO.
f we sound a bit contemptuous, we mean to be a bit today. Nothing changes.
So now to Negroponte. We see much the same in baroque reprise. The normal Washington parlor game is on the personalities. Rummy is out. Gates is in. Important, true.
But also true is what exactly the role of the DNI (or formerly DCI under a professional and less disastrous tenure than Tenet's)? A quick traipse through the intelligence cycle (here primarily about collection — HUMINT, SIGINT, ELINT and Geospatial/NTM — note special activity off to the side) will also perhaps explain Negroponte's decision.
The Cycle And Chinese Wall
s you can see from this chart, ordinarily, the process begins with (1) planning and tasking. Support for policy makers and support for military operations (SMO) vie for intellectual bandwidth and resources. Threat-based formulations rank issues according to tiers, sub tiers, etc. The next stage (2) is the collection effort - from HUMINT cadres at the now “National Clandestine Service” at Langley (btw, under Dubya, the bureaucratic fetish was to win the title “national” to your work. Presumably there is a “national sewage analysis center” in place or being proposed), interecepts, overhead, etc. That raw data then in (3) must be processed. This is not really analysis per se but simply finding out what the wheat is from potential chaff. A massive and time consuming effort.
Then in (4), actual intelligence product is created. This can be an analytical paper, a matrix re-load with new data linkages, etc. Interestingly, often product in 4) gets chewed up or re-written or “red teamed” (not as much in the past unfortunately - better now) within the division or branch within a given organization. Product in 4) can also spark intense internecine bureaucratic struggles across the Community — and the intensity can be as “hot” whether it is limited to what a particular new protuberance on an air frame at Zhukovski airfield means or whether the Soviet doctrine meant they were prepared to fight an win a nuclear war. Or what aluminum tubes are really for. Many times, as we saw in the 9/11 Commission political Quisinart period, much of this internal debate does not make it out of the Community silos — or was deliberately shut down.
Ultimately, a refined product is presented/distributed to policy makers. (Product in this case is not the now infamous Presidential Daily Brief or the equally infamous but misunderstood NIE/SNIEs). The Community as a rule usually resists efforts to provide raw data and intercepts to policy makers not only for perogative reasons but for operational security and professional reasons — political operatives are not trained analytical professionals.
Cheney and Scooter were not the first to demand raw data and perhaps intercepts from Feith/Shulsky/Wurmser et al. Kissinger demanded it back in the day and Zbig also fancied himself at least Kissinger's equal in that regard. (Kissinger had peers across the divide — he is likely embarrassed that Brezhnev liked to read KGB intercepts of Kissinger's phone sex. So what goes around . . .)
Presenting a product to a policy maker so that it will even be read/looked at is a constant challenge. Some presidents want material widely circulated. Others, less so. Some presidents enjoy reading nuanced reports. Others want post card sized summations. And some ignore it all and assume cable TV has more accurate information anyway.
Rebuilding The Chinese Wall
ut once the product is presented, the primary role of the intelligence community is largely done. As Richard Helms tried to observe scrupulously during Vietnam, a DCI's role providing intelligence ends when policy makers then debate and decide what to do. It is a very important line that few in the media and even fewer in the public understand.
Few realize that NO DCI until Casey ever held Cabinet status. (Casey was unique in moving off the Chinese Wall separating intelligence and policy and thought himself a shadow secretary of state.) Of course, nothing is totally black and white in practice, as many CIA DO officials over the years because of their time in region and contacts assumed essentially parallel roles to the equivalent State Department country desks. And in the case of 'special activity' (covert action) the CIA did assume a policy role for the president. But as a general rule, intelligence product and policy debates were marked by a Chinese Wall. (This has nothing to do with the “Wall” between grand jury investigations and FRE 6 but I am confident some wingnut will go nuts about that word anyway).
The current degraded Washington policy environment has obliterated that wise and important tradition. The ideological nature of this regime almost mandates that intelligence become politicized because ideology demands comformity and interprets disagreement as political subversion. Even so, the Community also did pursue a fairly active campaign of leaking — in some cases almost of necessity because of the Christian Socialist Authoritarian unified government which shut down oversight.
But without that 2001-2006 baggage, presenting intelligence product today or tomorrow to senior policy makers is just one voice out of possibly hundreds. (Even assuming the Community can agree on any given subject). There are now dozens if not more essentially shadow intelligence operations run out of AEI, Hudson, and even by large scale public commercial companies that are self-generating income-wise (the ultimate objective of Casey's effort to by-pass the CIA with the “Enterprise” ). The Internet and global communications compound the problem for a DNI because it is entirely plausible as not that the best information and experts are not within the Community or US government.
One Voice Among Many
o Negroponte's intelligence voice was now merely one competing with ideologically charged alternatives. His major raison d'etre was shaky from the get go. Internally, his task in setting up ODNI was thankless from the beginning. Even aside from the Rumsfeld and NRO turf issues.
He had some good ideas such as the long over due community-wide Human Capital plans. His staff bulk-up made sense from purely Washington power politics geometry and the CIA has only itself to blame for the guts being torn out of the DI. Is Lehman's criticism valid? Perhaps — but only on a personality basis. A Lehman or Guiliani could get away with a lean staff kicking ass. But the wiser long term Washington play was the hand Negroponte dealt.
But even if all Negroponte's ideas take hold, assuming he did whatever else it was the hollow men and women purporting to oversee the Community wanted — the DNI essentially is a paper shuffler and presenter of just one version of intelligence product. But policy is the true battlefield. And the DNI (like a professional DCI before Tenet) is not designed to be a participant in that scrum.
True, budgetary issues are some real power inside the D.C.fish bowl and if the ODNI succeeds in securing more control there, it will have some indirect role policy setting. A blunt instrument. The truncated CIA still runs the NCS and HUMINT operations. A post-Rummy world suggests OSD para-military hypertropism will degrade gracefully and the Agency's knuckledraggers be back in business. (Which in our view is not a bad thing). So the operational control will be there. And so on across the rest of community. Negroponte really controls only some of the analysts in his shop and the face time he has with the Warlord for the Daily Brief.
otice who was not invited down to Crawford with the Warlord? These are meetings where policy is made and set. Ill-informed or people reared on the cable tv gabfest wasteland will scream 'well don't you want your DNI there?'
He might well have been useful there — but his role would have to be handled very carefully. Addressing the Chinese Wall that must and should exist between providing intelligence product by a DNI or formerly a DCI and absenting oneself from the policy debates — to the extent practical — is essential to understanding much of what went wrong 2001-2006 in America (from a variety of perspectives).
The Opposiitonist blogosphere assume the intelligence community is opposed to Bush and therefore want the DNI or someone to pound the table and dictate policy because of his or her information. But that naive sentment should be dismissed out of hand. It is just another version of Feith and Shulsky in different guise. The Chinese Wall of intelligence and policy is essential to the Republic. And a conversation largely lacking in the blogosphere, cable, professional journals or the like that we have seen.
By going to State, Negroponte not only returns to the foreign service environment he is used to. He can actually make policy recommendations, participate in deputies' committees and argue for positions, and in some cases make decisions. The difference between his essentially policy-eunuch role as DNI and the policy freedom he gains from a chastened, weakened and ultimately shallow Cher Condi is vast. And as we and others have noted, should Cher Condi move on before the final bunker scene, Negroponte will sit in the big chair. For the remainder of his shelf life in the cable wasteland, the chyrons will call him 'Secretary' like Eagleburger.
P.S. We shake our heads in anticipation at the bizarre counter-historical confection Tenet has come up with in his book. Perhaps instead of a CD in he back he should give us all his Presidential Medal of Freedom. . .
, covert action
, Condi Rice