The Week In Intelligence

on March 16 | in CIA, Intelligence Reform, ODNI

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Here’s what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:

More details of the CIA reorganization have emerged which Director Brennan has called “part of the natural evolution of an intelligence agency.” Director Brennan said a central aim of the reorganization was to eliminate seams in coverage which have led to confusion over which part of the agency is responsible for certain issues. With the addition of the new cyber directorate, which will be called the “Directorate of Digital Innovation, ” the CIA will “regionally and functionally” be in a position to cover “the entire universe.”

More minor changes include: changing the name of the Directorate of Intelligence to the Directorate of Analysis; while the National Clandestine Service will mercifully be again called the Directorate of Operations.

CIA Director John Brennan addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York where he emphasized the Agency’s strong relationships with foreign governments. However, he did say “unauthorized disclosures,” from individuals such as Edward Snowden, have created “difficulties with liaison services that we have had to overcome.”

Following the short address, Brennan took questions from commentator Charlie Rose and some from the audience. No questions were asked about the SSCI Interrogation report, though Brennan did say the CIA must “focus on enhancing professionalism and commitment to the ethics of intelligence.” A majority of the audience’s questions involved ISIS, which Brennan called a “phenomenon that has snowballed in terms of its resonance and appeal.”

CIA funds may have found their way into the hands of al Qaeda. During the spring of 2010 Afghan officials agreed to pay $5 million to free Abdul Khaliq Farahi, a diplomat being held hostage by al Qaeda. A large portion of the ransom money came from the cash deposits CIA delivered to the presidential palace in Kabul each month. The funds given to Kabul were intended to “finance a vast patronage network that secured Mr. Karzai’s power base,” but as one Afghan security official put it: “It’s cash, once it’s at the palace, they can’t do a thing about how it gets spent.”

The Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Parliament released a report following an inquiry into the actions of their nation’s intelligence services. The Committee was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the United Kingdom’s entire intelligence community including MI5, GCHQ, and the Secret Intelligence Service; known altogether as “the Agencies.” The inquiry set out to determine the “range of intrusive capabilities” available to the Agencies; how those capabilities are used their investigations; and the extent to which these capabilities “intrude on privacy.” Following the publication of the report, the Committee recommended a new act of parliament to better set out the regulations and actions of the Agencies.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) recently hosted a panel to discuss the tenth anniversary of the creation of the ODNI.  According to Joseph DeTrani, the president of the INSA and former Director of the NCPC, a take away from the discussion was that today’s complex international environment requires an “even more agile and effective intelligence community.” He praised the intelligence communities’ successful counterproliferation efforts in North Korea and Iran, as well as the actions which killed Osama bin Laden. However, DeTrani said he was surprised by the “absence of credible information” available to the public about the work of the intelligence community; especially its successes, and hopes to promote a better public explanation of what the intelligence community does.

photo: A Tessina Camera Concealed in Cigarette Pack (CIA)

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