Casey conferences discuss ways to improve US intelligence capabilities

[IWP news release] A year-long series of conferences, dedicated to the memory of former Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, is a major IWP forum from which to discuss ways to improve U.S. intelligence capabilities. The series was convened in light of the intelligence and policy failures that led to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The series, “Intelligence Requirements for the 21st Century: A New Mandate for an Assertive, Proactive Intelligence Community,” aims to contribute to public debate and policy-making.

In a room overflowing with intelligence veterans, scholars, journalists and other experts, the inaugural conference focused on consolidating recent gains and achieving new momentum in the revitalization of U.S. intelligence. Moderated by Dr. John Dziak, IWP Adjunct Professor of Comparative Intelligence Studies and former Senior Intelligence Officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the July, 2002 event featured some of the nation’s top scholars and practitioners in the field.

Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, now Reagan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, kicked off the conference by addressing civil liberties versus domestic intelligence on terrorism. Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey gave a luncheon address on “Foiling the Next Attack: Stop the Blame Game–There’s Work to be Done.”

The second conference, held in October, examined “Warning, Counterintelligence, and Intelligence for Counterterrorism,” with former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger giving the keynote address. The third conference, focusing on defense intelligence, is scheduled for May 2003.

The well-attended conferences attracted some of today’s most experienced, creative, and courageous intelligence professionals, many of whom served together to defeat Soviet Communism and who have been at the cutting edge ever since. Their positive tone and constructive comments provided the basis of a strong working relationship among the intelligence community, Congress, and the administration.

Maximizing effectiveness, revitalizing the culture

What follows are some of the salient points of the first conference:

Wise policymakers want secrets that give them an advantage over an adversary and that help them make timely decisions, noted IWP professor and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Support Kenneth deGraffenreid, who chaired a panel on “Maximizing Intelligence Effectiveness by Integration with National Security” at the first conference. They don’t want or need analysis of “mysteries” – the inherently unknowable, he argued.

Fellow panelist S. Eugene Poteat, President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and a member of IWP’s first class of M.A. students, stressed that the war on terrorism could only be won with offensive rather than defensive measures.

Randall Fort, a long-time IWP guest lecturer and former executive at the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), pointed out that the valuable criticisms of the intelligence community made by the congressional oversight committees have been ignored by that community for the past 10 years, causing him to wonder if another oversight committee might be needed to see that the oversight committees are effectively doing their job. He also suggested that if the primary focus of the war on terrorism was homeland security, i.e, defense, then the war might be lost.

Herbert Meyer, President, Real World Intelligence, Inc. and former CIA official, observed a difference between what policymakers want and need to know, arguing that intelligence would be more helpful if leaders knew where they were going and set goals in that direction which could be supported by good intelligence.

He also asserted that most intelligence failures resulted from policymakers focusing on what seems urgent at the expense of the truly important things.

A second panel addressed “Revitalizing Intelligence Culture and Communication,” with presentations by IWP lecturers Dr. Abram Shulsky, Advisor, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Policy Advisory Group; Dr. James Bruce, Vice Chairman of the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee, National Intelligence Council, CIA; Dr. Arthur Hulnick, Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University and former CIA official; and IWP Adjunct Professor Herbert Romerstein, a former senior official of the U.S. Information Agency and the House of Representatives intelligence and internal security committees.

Dr. Shulsky discussed the error of focusing on domestic security from a law-enforcement rather than an intelligence perspective, and examined the tensions between effective domestic intelligence and traditional privacy rights.

IWP lecturer Jim Bruce explained the importance of high-level attention to “denial and deception,” known as D&D – the practice of denying facts to an observer as well as manipulating the image he receives. The only serious attention paid to this subject was when the late William Casey attempted to create a counter – D&D capability at the CIA. Dr. Bruce also explained how an enemy’s ability to practice D&D against America was helped immensely by the frequent leaks of U.S. intelligence sources and methods.

Professor Hulnick, another IWP guest lecturer and a CIA veteran, warned against too much focus on terrorism at the expense of other threats facing the United States. He recommended that the U.S. create a domestic intelligence agency like Britain’s MI-5. IWP Adjunct Professor Romerstein identified two still-unremedied causes of the 9/11 intelligence failure: legislation and guidelines that impede intelligence gathering, and what he called “an intelligence culture that actually rewards failure.”

In his keynote address, former CIA Director Woolsey blamed the risk-averse culture of the CIA bureaucracy for many of its failures, especially in the realm of human intelligence, and called for more cooperation between our spies and our technical intelligence collectors whose value can be maximized if they work synergistically. He also explained the value of U.S. ideals for recruiting foreign agents, half-joking that Thomas Jefferson was responsible for most of the ideological recruits from the former Soviet bloc. Our intelligence effort, a means to an end, is helped greatly by the universal appeal of our highest goals – freedom and democracy.

During the afternoon session, Dr. J. Michael Waller, IWP’s Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication, shared a discussion of “Collection and Analysis Priorities” with Roger W. Robinson, former Senior Director of International Economic Policy at the National Security Council; IWP Adjunct Professor Ross H. Munro, Director of Asian Studies at the Center for Security Studies; and John Waller, a retired CIA official.

Dr. Michael Waller addressed “Information and Cyber Security” and how the Internet revolution has allowed terrorist and other anti-American groups to decentralize, thus making them harder to combat than hierarchical groups.

“Tracking the Finances of Terrorist-Sponsoring States” was the subject of Mr. Robinson’s discussion, examining long overdue efforts to prevent rogue states from raising money in U.S. capital markets as well as enriching themselves through deals with U.S. companies.

IWP Adjunct Professor Munro, in his examination of “The Challenge Posed by China to the U.S. Intelligence Community” argued that Communist China is the one unambiguous long-term threat to the USA.

Finally, retired CIA veteran John Waller spoke on the very timely issue of “Containment of Islamic Extremism” and urged better diplomatic efforts.

The conference ended with a wrap-up by Dr. Dziak and concluding remarks by Owen and Bernadette Casey Smith, whose generous support made the event possible.