“Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture”

A book that purports to be a memoir by a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service paints a picture of a bureaucracy without any focus or capability in human intelligence. This suggests intelligence reform requires a thorough refounding rather than rewiring at the top.

“Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture” is the subtitle of a book published in 2008 that purports to be a memoir by a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service who served as a case-officer overseas under non-official cover.

The book paints a picture of a bureaucracy without any focus or capability in human intelligence. This suggests intelligence reform requires a thorough refounding rather than rewiring at the top.

“Jones” paints a picture of a risk-averse culture driven more by petty jealousies than by mission. Stations take advantage of any possible excuse to avoid actual spying. Case officers in the field receive no guidance toward high-value leads. Headquarters approval processes are so slow that the only way to succeed is to evade them.

If this picture is remotely true then there is probably no senior insider willing or able to undertake needed reforms, and any outsider will only be able to do so by a really determined effort in alliance with people recruited from military intelligence and others recalled from retirement. Leon Panetta has his work cut out for him!