F A Brief Primer on Intelligence
Intelligence gathering takes place for both tactical and strategic purposes. Tactical intelligence is primarily the domain of agencies within the military services. Tactical intelligence provides advantages on the battlefield against hostile military forces (or in support of counterterrorist operations) through direct support to operational commanders in areas such as reconnaissance, mapping, and early warning of enemy force movements. Intelligence for strategic purposes (national intelligence) serves foreign policy, national security, and national economic objectives. National intelligence focuses on foreign political and economic events and trends; strategic military concerns such as plans, doctrine, scientific and technical resources; weapons system capabilities; and nuclear program development.1
Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is one key source of intelligence, important to both tactical and national intelligence. Strictly speaking, SIGINT encompasses two different forms of intelligencecommunications intel-
NOTE: Some material in this appendix, including the organizational makeup of the intelligence community and the stages of the intelligence cycle, is adapted from the Central Intelligence Agency, "Factbook on Intelligence," September 1995, available on-line at http: //www.odci.gov/cia/publications.
1 As a result of operational successes in the Persian Gulf War, however, increased demand by field commanders for real-time access to national intelligence resources, such as satellite reconnaissance, is blurring the boundary between these areas. See, for example, Desmond Ball, Signals Intelligence in the Post-Cold War Era: Developments in the Asia-Pacific Region, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 1993.
ligence (COMINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT). ELINT refers to the capture and analysis of electromagnetic signals from emitters such as radars; in general, these signals do not carry information in the communications sense of the term. In this report, and because it conforms to conventions that have been established by the public debate to date, SIGINT is used to refer to communications intelligencethe capture and analysis of signals (from whatever source) that carry communications information.
It is difficult or impossible to identify a single source that is more critical or important than all others because the essence of intelligence is the synthesis of information from all available sources ("all-source" synthesis). No single source is necessarily critical, although any one might be in any given instance, and it is a matter of judgment as to whether a certain source should be accorded a higher priority than another. Many important sources are open and public, but others are secret or clandestine. Clandestine information gathering, directed toward foreign and domestic military, political, economic, criminal, and other sources to which open, public access is denied, is a core element of national intelligence activities.
The community responsible for all-source synthesis is the intelligence community, which consists of a number of civilian and military agencies. The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) is both the coordinator of this community and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Under the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA is the coordinating agency for foreign intelligence analysis and dissemination. The CIA produces finished (refined) intelligence for the President and the National Security Council, and it is engaged in many aspects of information collection. The Defense Intelligence Agency and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State also analyze and produce finished intelligence, primarily for the Secretaries of Defense and State, respectively. The National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for collecting signals intelligencemonitoring, decrypting, and translating foreign communicationsand for developing cryptographic and other techniques to protect U.S. communications and computer security. Other parts of the community include intelligence agencies of each of the military services; the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), through which the Air Force and CIA jointly manage space-based (satellite) data collection; the Central Imagery Office, for processing photographic intelligence; and elements of the Departments of Treasury and Energy, among others.
Intelligence (and counterintelligence2) have foreign and domestic com-
2 Protecting secrets from disclosure to others is the focus of counterintelligence, a closely related activity involving many of the same processes as intelligence.
ponents, including infiltration of human agents into organizations operating abroad and in the United States and electronic and photographic surveillance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for conducting these activities in the United States. By law, foreign intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA are barred from domestic surveillance. Transgressions in this area have occurred, however, providing part of the rationale for creation in the 1970s of the Senate and House Select Committees on Intelligence. These committees provide legislative oversight as well as budget authorization.
Finally, it is important to note that intelligence is pursued largely on a level-of-effort basis, rather than in response to some set of specific needs that must be met at all costs. Thus, its importance is more a judgment question than one based on any analytical argument. This means, for example, that it is very hard to exclude or include missions or capabilities on the basis of a "must-have" list.
F.1 THE INTELLIGENCE MISSION
The mission of national intelligence is defined by the National Security Act and by relevant presidential directives, of which the most recent is Executive Order 12333, signed by President Reagan on December 4, 1981. Executive Order 12333 authorizes the DCI to develop and implement a National Foreign Intelligence Program to provide "[t]imely and accurate information about the activities, capabilities, plans, and intentions of foreign powers, organizations, and persons and their agents."3 Its primary purpose is to provide the President and designated officials, such as the National Security Council, with decision supportinformation on which to base decisions on foreign, defense, and economic policy and the protection of U.S. national security interests.
In the post-Cold War environment, the definition of national security interests goes far beyond a focus on a single rival such as the Soviet Union, and the United States is now concerned with threats throughout the world.4 Many of these threats are lower in intensity, but in some ways more complex and difficult to address, than those of the former Soviet Union. They include not only conventional military threats, but also issues such as the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction; terrorism; and political and economic instability,
3 Ronald Reagan, United States Intelligence Activities, Executive Order 12333, The White House, Washington, D.C., December 4, 1981; reprinted in Appendix N.
4 S. Turner, "Intelligence for a New World Order," Foreign Affairs, Volume 70(4), 1991, pp. 150-166.
which often leads to demands for U.S. or United Nations military or humanitarian intervention.
Counterterrorism efforts are on the rise. For example, public reports indicate that SIGINT was responsible for determining Libyan involvement in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.5 During the Persian Gulf War, intercepted communications enabled identification and forestallment of Iraqi terrorist teams.6 Evidence from wiretaps formed an important part of the case against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the case of an alleged conspiracy by Islamic fundamentalists to blow up the United Nations, the Hudson River tunnels, and the federal building in Manhattan.7
National security is also increasingly recognized as including broader, nonmilitary areas. Monitoring and countering the international drug trade is a relatively new priority for the U.S. intelligence community. Economic strength, industrial technology development, and environmental protection contribute to national security, creating demand among policy makers for collection and analysis of information in areas traditionally unfamiliar to the intelligence community.
The net result is that the number and range of tasks being assigned to the intelligence community are growing rapidly. Intelligence efforts have expanded to include the support of activities in the following areas:
• Counterproliferation. The United States has a policy to discourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) and the capabilities of other countries to acquire such weapons. (Ballistic missiles are also subject to significant counter-proliferation efforts.) Since the United States is not the only possible supplier of components for these weapons, it must rely on the cooperation of other possible supplier nations to discourage proliferation. Thus, intelligence efforts are directed toward identifying potential suppliers and purchasers, and the information derived from these efforts is passed to policy makers who can undertake appropriate actions in response.
• Sanctions enforcement. The United States is a supporter of many sanctions around the world. For example, the United Nations may decide to imposeand the United States decide to supporteconomic sanctions on a nation such that only humanitarian supplies may enter it. Intelligence efforts are needed to identify potential sources of leakages (e.g., sanctioned shipments masquerading as humanitarian supplies).
5 "There Are Some Secrets the NSA Doesn't Want Kept," Newsday, August 21, 1989, p. 54.
6 Ball, Signals Intelligence in the Post-Cold War Era, 1993.
7 See Joseph P. Fried, "Sheik's Tapped Calls Entered in Terrorism Trial," New York Times, April 23, 1995, p. 45.
• Economic and trade relations. U.S. trade relations with the rest of the world are increasingly important in a globally interdependent economy. Two key dimensions of such relations are the following:
Trade treaties. U.S. negotiators meet with their foreign counterparts to secure treaty arrangements that are fair, are equitable, and advance U.S. interests. Public sources assert that intelligence efforts sometimes support the positions of U.S. negotiators.8
Trade practices. U.S. companies often compete against foreign companies for international contracts. Although the U.S. intelligence community does not provide support to individual U.S. companies, it does play a role in identifying unfair trade practices (e.g., illegal activities undertaken by foreign governments on behalf of their constituents) and providing information to U.S. policy makers who might be responsible for remedial actions.
One result of the expanding plate of activities is that the parts of the national intelligence community that traditionally focus on strategic issues are spending a larger percentage of their time on activities that provide real-time operational support. Whereas in the past the intelligence community concentrated primarily on strategic intelligence (large-scale trends and the like) that was actionable by policy makers on a scale of years, the community today must also provide products that are actionable in the time scale of hours, days, or weeks. Such time pressures obviously place greater demands on the intelligence cycle, and in such an environment real-time information is at a premium.
F.2 THE INTELLIGENCE CYCLE
Historically, the process of intelligence production has been cyclical. Planning, which entails the prioritization of information demands and the allocation of resources, represents both the first and the last stage. Information is collected from a variety of sources, processed into useful form, analyzed, by drawing upon all available sources to generate balanced conclusions, and disseminated to the consumers of intelligencethe President, national security officials, and others in the executive and legislative branches of government with a need for information to support national
8 For example, public sources reported that the U.S. intelligence community was active in supporting U.S. negotiators on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. See Craig Whitney, ''France Accuses 5 Americans of Spying; Asks They Leave," New York Times, February 23, 1995, p. A1; Tim Weiner, "C.I.A. Faces Issue of Economic Spying," New York Times, February 23, 1995, p. Al.
security decisions. Dissemination of finished intelligence products may stimulate demand for new requests for intelligence information.
National intelligence planning, management, prioritization, and resource allocation are overseen by the DCI, as well as the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. The DCI chairs the National Foreign Intelligence Board, which includes officials of the Department of Defense, NSA, FBI, and other agencies and advises DCI on both analytical and administrative issues. The National Intelligence Council, comprised of senior intelligence experts inside and outside the government, produces National Intelligence Estimates, assesses the quality of analyses, and identifies critical gaps requiring new collection priorities. Among others with senior planning roles are the Executive Director for Intelligence Community Affairs; the Executive Director and Deputy Director of the CIA and deputy directors of its Intelligence, Operations, Administration, and Science and Technology branches; and officials of other intelligence agencies.
In the context of the intelligence cycle, planning entails the identification of collection priorities in response to requests from intelligence consumers. An example of the planning stage is the determination of how many surveillance satellites the United States needs, the corresponding allocation of financial resources made available by Congress, and the continual process of selecting targets at which the satellites' cameras and antennas should be aimed.
Planning of collection efforts is an essential element of the intelligence cycle because the United States does not have unlimited intelligence collection assets. A central authority is needed to weigh competing demands for collection and decide which collection assets should be assigned to which tasks. Far more requests for collection are submitted by various users than are actually approved.
Collection of foreign intelligence relies heavily on technical means. The bulk of the intelligence budget is for acquisition and operation of technical systems, most of which are related to collection.9 Technical collection assets include various satellites; ground-based monitoring stations; and airborne, ocean surface, and underwater platforms.
9 H. Nelson, "The U.S. Intelligence Budget in the 1990s," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Volume 6(1), 1993, pp. 195-203.
Technical collection methods are categorized broadly as image intelligence (IMINT; e.g., overhead photographs) and SIGINT. IMINT is collected from aircraft, such as the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird, and satellites.
The NSA is the lead agency for SIGINT, the monitoring of electronic signals. These include intercepted radio, microwave, satellite, and telephone communications; telemetry, such as data streams transmitted during ballistic missile tests; and radar emissions. Some signals are intercepted through the antenna arrays of ground stations around the world, which monitor broadcast, satellite-linked, and other radio communications. Space-based SIGINT collection comes from a variety of satellites.
Historically, technical collection means have been critical in the verification of arms control agreements, through monitoring of missile tests, radiation and seismic detection, and direct observation of nuclear production facilities and weapons sites.10
Nontechnical intelligence collection can be open or covert. Although there is substantial debate over the extent to which the intelligence community (particularly the CIA) has made effective use of open-source intelligence,11 it is widely recognized that a great deal of relevant information about foreign political, economic, military, and other issues is publicly available. Other potential open sources of material for intelligence analysis include foreign broadcasts and newspapers; academic, scientific, and trade journals; books; scientific conference reports; diplomatic contacts (e.g., foreign attachés); and debriefings of U.S. scientists and businesspeople who attend international meetings.12
Clandestine nontechnical intelligence collection is the concern of human intelligence, or HUMINT. Case officers, usually operating under cover as U.S. officials in foreign posts, are the backbone of this effort. Through their political, economic, and social contacts, case officers recruit local agents to provide information unavailable through technical means. Placement of agents under nonofficial "deep" cover may facilitate entry into particularly difficult to penetrate organizations such as drug cartels; however, deep cover involves potentially greater risk to the agent.13
10 J.A. Adam, G. Zorpette, S.M. Meyer, and J. Horgan, "Peacekeeping by Technical Means: Special Report/Verification," IEEE Spectrum, Volume 23(July), 1986, pp. 42-80.
11 R.D. Steele, "A Critical Evaluation of U.S. National Intelligence Capabilities," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Volume 6(2), 1993, pp. 173-193.
12 R. Godson (ed.), Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s: Collection, Analysis, Counterintelligence, and Covert Action, Lexington Books, Lexington, Mass., 1989.
13 Godson, Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s, 1989.
The information collected by intelligence assetsparticularly, technical meansmust be converted to a usable form before it can be analyzed. Encrypted communications have to be decrypted for maximum utility (although full decryption may not be necessary for traffic analysis, which itself provides some useful information); language experts translate SIGINT into English; IMINT is processed electronically to assist in interpretation of imagery.
As noted earlier, all-source analysis is the basis of the intelligence production effort. All-source analysis converts collected information from multiple sources into finished intelligence products that are useful to intelligence consumers. At the simplest level, clearly, extensive editing and prioritizing are necessary to reduce and simplify the voluminous stream of collected data. The practice of analysis, however, involves more than editing. In the traditional view of the intelligence community, all-source analysis is both science and art. It includes integration and evaluation of all available data, finding patterns among fragmentary or contradictory sources, and drawing inferences from incomplete evidence. Whereas all-source analysis can add significant value to raw information, it is subject to potential pitfalls that can lead to major errors. These include, for example, a lack of awareness of other cultures, leading to "mirror imaging"the assumption that foreign policy makers will behave as Americans would. Overreliance on clandestine or technical sources, simply because they are uniquely available to intelligence analysts, is another risk.14
Analysts, who are typically regional or subject matter specialists, prepare a variety of products for intelligence consumers. These include, among others, (1) current intelligence on political and other events; (2) encyclopedic intelligencecompilations of data for future use, such as maps or economic statistics; and (3) estimative intelligencepredictions of trends and events, with a focus on potential threats to U.S. security. The traditional view of analysis, developed in the CIA's early history and incorporated into its training for many years, held that analysis should be conducted at arm's length from intelligence consumers. This distance would enable analysts to avoid being biased by domestic political concerns.15More recently, a competing view has emerged within the intelli-
14 Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1974.
15 Godson, Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s, 1989.
gence community that analysts should actively seek to meet the specific needs of policy makers, for example, by identifying opportunities for proactive measures that advance U.S. policies.
The final step of the cycle is dissemination of the finished product to consumers. Finished intelligence prepared under the DCI's direction is hand-carried daily to the President and key national security advisers. Other selected intelligence products, such as classified papers and encrypted electronic documents, are distributed to national security planners and policy makers on the basis of their need to know, as determined, in most cases, by the intelligence community. Broader, longer-range products prepared under the National Intelligence Council's direction are disseminated as National Intelligence Estimates. As these dissemination efforts lead to new requirements for information, the intelligence cycle begins again.