Multiple intelligence agencies: a blessing or recipe for failure? Part 2
/By Dov Lachman/

The first part in this series on multiple intelligence agencies in the US listed 17 different bodies and cited their huge, cumulative, annual budget (over $70 billion).

Upon closer inspection of each of the 17 members of the US intelligence community, it is clear that each of them has a specialized, highly focused role, clear goals and an independent field of operations. Clearly, their respective missions, along with their required set of skills, are highly divergent. For instance, TFI, the Treasury Department’s independent intelligence body focusing on financial issues, including investigations of funding terror, applies completely different tools and skills than CGI – Coast Guard Intelligence. Similarly, there are professional and other distinctions and separations between intelligence bodies with very little common interface. Almost none, in fact.

But what about intelligence bodies whose theaters of operation are nearly parallel, so much so, that they follow almost matching processes and protocols?

If we take one of the major menaces plaguing American society no less than ISIS or al-Qaeda – the drug problem – and examine it through the intelligence and organizational perspective, we will see a multitude of bodies and sub-organizations all focusing on the exact same problem. The fact that oversight and accountability are spread over so many entities is the reason US cities are overflowing with drugs.

The chain of handling drugs is relevant to each intelligence body in the US, and each of them can touch on it. The CIA can demarcate the cultivation and production areas as well as those engaged in growing and producing; the NGI will map and produce aerial imaging; the NRO can do the same from space; the TFI will map the financial ties which finance drugs and then launder the proceeds; the FBI can provide local intelligence within the US concerning supply and collection networks – and there is of course the DEA, America’s Drug Enforcement agency.

It is safe to assume that the level of cooperation between these intelligence bodies will not be high, particularly since each of these organizations, except for the DEA, has a rather low level of interest in the drug epidemic sweeping across the US.

In addition to the problem of different interests (Essential Elements of Information), there is also the issue of numerous organizational and technological entities doing the same thing. Had there been just one rather than a few, the cost to the tax payer would have been reduced, and no less important: the intelligence product itself could have been improved and streamlined. The reason for this is that each of America’s 17 intelligence organizations is busy with the same actions and tasks: encrypting and fielding agents, engaging communications and computing, recruitment, training and certification, applying technological means, camouflage, transport, protection, security and much more.

Some of the American intelligence agencies have been around since the dawn of the 20th century. Political, and in particular military processes that were relevant over a century ago have all changed forever on 9/11, and in fact have been changing during the preceding decade.

Most armed conflicts in the current decade are been waged between regular armies and guerrilla groups, mostly faith-inspired combatants. This trend is expected to intensify over the coming years. Intelligence bodies established with one frame of mind now a century old cannot provide any actionable, efficient solutions to current, contemporary, problems. Seventeen different intelligence organizations are tantamount to an uncontrollable hydra you simply cannot rule over and direct properly. This monstrosity cannot be set any goals, nor can it produce any viable intelligence that could assist Western democracies in retaining the liberties they stand for.

Poor assessments, such as overestimating or underestimating the most important political, geopolitical, social and religious processes in the past decade, or not even predicting certain events, are a direct cause of this inability to control ‘the dummy that has indeed risen up against its own maker’.

The third and final part will remind readers that the situation in most Western countries is not better than in the US, and is perhaps worse – mainly because the wings of Islamic terrorism are yet to hit them hard. The third part will also attempt to propose a number of ways, some of which quite revolutionary, of conceptualizing modern intelligence.


Courtesy of: iHLS Israel Homeland Security

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