Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

Sixteenth DCI, R. James Woolsey

R. James Woolsey: Uncompromising Defender

We have slain a large dragon. But we live now in a jungle filled with a
bewildering variety of poisonous snakes. And in many ways,
the dragon was easier to keep track of.

R. James Woolsey, like Gates, wanted to ensure external support for and internal improvements in the nation’s intelligence establishment. Unlike Gates, however, he did not enjoy a relationship of trust and mutual confidence with the president he served, Bill Clinton, who chose him as his DCI on the recommendation of foreign policy advisers. Their lack of a prior relationship did not foreordain distance between them, but unfortunately no bond developed in the 23 months that Woolsey served as DCI.

Woolsey’s experience in national security matters made him a logical candidate for DCI. He was familiar with intelligence generally, and, having led the NRO study in the summer of 1992, he was also up to date on some of the community’s most important programs.[2] Woolsey had served as undersecretary of the navy in the Carter administration, as a member of commissions on national security issues, and as an ambassador in negotiating arms control limitations on non-nuclear forces in Europe at the end of the Cold War. From the outset, however, he identified more with sustaining elements of continuity in intelligence between the Bush and Clinton administrations than with calls for reining it in or changing its direction, and over time his lack of political allies or support led to his fighting increasingly lonely battles and eventually departing.


Community Management

Woolsey kept unchanged the structure and activities of CMS, the new community staff shaped to Gates’s specifications in 1992, and retained Richard Haver as his top community aide. He oversaw the completion of task forces initiated by Gates on community training and requirements and took a personal interest in issues of law enforcement, counterintelligence, and security policy. He did not present himself as boldly as Gates as a “change agent,” but he did point out to Congress that he had been an adviser to the SSCI in 1989 when Senator Boren and others had proposed reform legislation for intelligence.

Woolsey associated the Intelligence Community with the broad administration initiative called the “National Performance Review,” a set of activities within the executive branch to improve government administration and cut costs led by Vice President Al Gore. Woolsey established an Intelligence Community Quality Council to push “total quality management” principles and to participate in the executive branch-wide program. Adm. Studeman was an untiring advocate of improved managerial techniques throughout the community and took a strong interest in activities sponsored by the small CMS staff element supporting this initiative.

Woolsey also approved Intelink, a CMS initiative aimed at unifying the Intelligence Community electronically. This web-based classified communications system became the main electronic information system tying the disparate members of the community together. He placed a senior DOD officer in charge of establishing the system, and DOD elements in the community adopted it, ensuring its widespread impact. The CIA was concerned about the security of the system but participated in it at ordinary levels of classification.


Another initiative that Woolsey had CMS lead was an effort in 1994 to develop a national intelligence strategy. Such guides had been produced in the past, and Congress was pushing for one to help justify the Intelligence Community’s programs in the post-Cold War era. In November 1994, CMS published A Framework for US Intelligence in the 21st Century, describing the strategic purposes of national intelligence programs for the next 10 or more years and bearing a seal devised in the early 1990s with the words “Director of Central Intelligence: Intelligence Community.”[3]

Finally, Woolsey had DDCI Studeman commission in 1993 a study of the three DCI centers on terrorism, narcotics, and proliferation and of the National Military Joint Intelligence Center to examine just how “community” these entities really were and how well they were working. The study aired current concerns and recommended that the centers clarify how they coordinated work among different community components, but it did not give the centers improved integration or stronger authority.[4]


Defense Department

Woolsey was determined to work closely with the new leaders of DOD in fulfilling his duties as DCI. He had dealt extensively with defense issues through the years, knew the key senior officials appointed to head DOD, and like Gates believed that close collaboration with them was a key to fulfilling his own responsibilities as DCI. In particular, Woolsey pressed for progress in developing unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance in close cooperation with DOD. He used CIA requirements as a base for experimenting with such systems within the agency, but he had in mind the broader purpose of demonstrating their utility to DOD for development and procurement on a larger scale for US military use. Indeed, DOD created a Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO) in December 1993 to pursue just such ideas. In effect, the NRO could now concentrate on space systems, and airborne programs enjoyed separate status and support within DOD.[5]

Woolsey also used DOD as an ally in preparing and defending the Intelligence Community’s program and budget. Leon Panetta, the Clinton administration’s first director of OMB, had indicated to Woolsey early in 1993 that OMB was considering providing the DCI with top-line guidance, perhaps with a publicly disclosed figure, and seeking sizable out-year cuts in intelligence spending. Woolsey also faced skeptical audiences in Congress anxious to find an additional “peace dividend” in intelligence spending as well as in the larger defense budget. From Woolsey’s perspective, he had the unenviable task of managing declining intelligence budgets in an era of multiplying intelligence targets (the “poisonous snakes”), and he did not wish to see each intelligence agency develop its own downsizing plan in isolation. Downsizing in fact offered the DCI an opportunity if he could use it as an incentive to advance community integration.

Woolsey was willing to accommodate such pressures to some degree (among his first major decisions as DCI were cancellations of major collection programs no longer viewed as affordable), but he fought tenaciously to limit the cuts and to justify what he considered a responsible level of NFIP spending. This stance earned him in March 1993 press attention that unfairly portrayed him as not on board with overall administration policy.[6] In April he wrote to the president, giving him a carefully framed explanation of how his planned program—despite a near-term increase—would achieve the five-year savings goals Clinton had set for intelligence. The spending issue at times preoccupied Woolsey, and it reinforced his inclination to cleave closely to DOD.

Woolsey advanced cooperation on program and budget matters by constructing a process of “joint review” of major intelligence programs by himself and the deputy secretary of defense (initially William Perry, then John Deutch). One goal he sought was integration across intelligence programs, and another was integration of efforts between DOD and DCI areas of responsibility (these had been Gates’s goals as well). He devised an informal arrangement whereby either he or the deputy secretary would wear a baseball cap signifying chairmanship of their joint meeting depending on whether the topics were NFIP (the DCI’s responsibility) or TIARA (the deputy secretary’s responsibility).[7] His partnership efforts resulted in jointly agreed NFIP and TIARA budgets, although they did not succeed entirely in fending off continuing pressure for cuts.[8]

In the fall of 1993 Woolsey and Perry agreed to the formation of a new defense intelligence program called the Joint Military Intelligence Program (JMIP), which was to cover DOD-wide programs of various kinds that were not appropriate for the NFIP but needed to be better managed than they were in TIARA, the aggregation of tactical intelligence programs in DOD. This new defense intelligence program was initiated in the spring of 1994, and DOD also established a Defense Intelligence Executive Board (DIEB) chaired by the deputy secretary of defense to consider and make recommendations on defense intelligence programs. Woolsey readily accepted Deutch’s invitation to be a member of this board.

Woolsey, who understood the value of trying to improve OSD management of DOD’s disparate intelligence programs, agreed to these initiatives without any apparent concern that they might pose problems for the DCI’s own leadership of NFIP programs such as the NRO. The move did raise the issue of whether the GDIP belonged in the JMIP or should remain as part of the NFIP, but it was agreed to keep it as a more “national” program under DCI auspices. Also, the DIEB’s charter explicitly stated that any issues with implications for the NFIP would be referred to the DCI, thus protecting the DCI’s community-wide program and budget role.

Woolsey’s aggressive defense of the NFIP came at some cost in his relationships with OMB and the White House. From OMB’s perspective, he came across as confrontational in his efforts to keep OMB from examining, and possibly cutting, his budget. One of Panetta’s senior staff officers commented on Woolsey’s approach in dealing with Panetta: “I’ve never seen a more graceless stonewall….”[9] Richard Haver, the CMS chief whom Woolsey had inherited from Gates and had kept on during his tenure as DCI, recalled an episode in which the DCI and DOD leaders, in a personal meeting with President Clinton, gained the president’s agreement—over OMB objections—to a program and budget Woolsey had worked out in concert with DOD. The DCI was almost euphoric about his success as he returned to CIA headquarters, but he soon received a message from Panetta that Woolsey would “pay” for his budget victory. Thus, Woolsey’s efforts to protect the community’s set of programs, while successful in earning presidential approval, took place in a setting where key presidential subordinates came to resent his role.

Panetta went on to become chief of staff to President Clinton. When in 1994 noisy controversies arose on Capitol Hill about how the new NRO headquarters building had been treated in budget presentations and how the NRO’s “forward funding” practices for major collection programs had built up a huge surplus, Woolsey was not in a position to count on White House support. Also, in 1994 OMB tried to push for a role in shaping the intelligence budget more along the lines of its greater involvement in the larger DOD budget, and Woolsey—concerned about OMB’s desire for cuts in intelligence and defense—stuck with the DOD partnership as his best strategy for keeping OMB at bay and saving his program from even greater cuts.

Woolsey’s interest in the NRO, and his need to deal with the difficult budget decisions regarding its expensive programs, led him to work with Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch in 1994 to establish a panel to recommend a new high-altitude satellite architecture. They gave the panel—made up of the DDCI, the vice chairman of the JCS, and the director of the NRO—the specific task of deciding between two options, and it rendered its judgment in August 1994. This practical, problem-oriented approach exemplified Woolsey’s efforts to reach program decisions in step with DOD wherever possible, and it also kept front and center Woolsey’s keen interest in the NRO.

This DCI interest was something Woolsey reiterated to Deutch and others when in 1994 DOD leaders were considering ideas about reorganizing their management structure for space activities. Woolsey made it clear he was primarily concerned that the US Air Force’s, or any other, initiatives in this area not disturb the special status and key missions of the NRO. Trying to accommodate OSD’s, the JCS’s, and the DCI’s equities in one package was a daunting task. Deutch’s announcement in December 1994 of a new senior OSD position responsible for all OSD space policy and acquisition matters surprised Langley, showing the limits of what Woolsey, or any DCI, could achieve via collaboration with DOD’s senior civilian leaders.


Director of Military Intelligence?

Although DCIs occasionally have had differences with directors of DIA over issues of the appropriate division of labor regarding analytic production or the coordination of CIA and DIA human source collection operations in the field, they have seldom encountered major contentious issues involving the DCI’s community role. For Woolsey, however, a “constitutional” issue arose when Lt. Gen. James Clapper, USAF, who served as director of DIA during Gates’s and Woolsey’s tenures in office, sought to formalize for himself the title “Director of Military Intelligence,” or DMI, adding it to his designation as director of DIA.

As head of DIA, Clapper was charged with a number of DOD-wide responsibilities that went beyond managing DIA, and unsurprisingly he saw that set of duties within DOD as analogous to the role exercised by the DCI within the Intelligence Community. Clapper began to use the DMI title in fulfilling them and came to believe that he could be even more effective by formalizing the designation. It would, he hoped, strengthen his authority in dealing with issues where, like the DCI within the Intelligence Community, he lacked command authorities but was expected to achieve coordination or cooperation. In a memorandum to the deputy secretary of defense, Clapper argued that the various intelligence-related problems in DOD “would at least be more visible, and would be attacked more coherently and systematically by formally instituting a senior uniformed military officer as the Department’s Director of Military Intelligence.”

The SSCI had noted Clapper’s use of the title and had raised questions regarding what it meant, arguing that the civilian leaders of DOD should determine, possibly with the help of Congress, the proper designations of positions and responsibilities for senior DOD intelligence officials. To satisfy that concern, in the summer of 1993 the office of the ASD/C3I drafted memorandums to gain formal approval of the new title. OSD cited the ever-present need to improve coordination and cooperation within DOD among intelligence entities (to achieve “jointness” and “interoperability”) as the overall purpose to be achieved. OSD admitted the title was not necessary and promised that existing authorities of military service secretaries and the DCI would not be compromised by formalizing the DMI title. The designation of the director of NSA as also the head of the Central Security Service was cited as a relevant dual-title analogy that allowed NSA’s chief to reach beyond NSA proper in dealing with the cryptologic elements in the military services. OSD envisaged no fewer than 23 responsibilities as coming under the new DMI title, the principal ones being development of the GDIP, advising senior OSD and JCS officials, and chairmanship of the Military Intelligence Board (MIB), a committee that had evolved within the Pentagon to address DOD-wide intelligence issues. OSD did not regard the new title as challenging the authority of the ASD/C3I, and it did not propose elevating the rank of the officer named DMI, (although consideration of granting a fourth star to such a person would have been logical).

Woolsey, however, regarded the new formal title as at least a potential challenge to his own community role. Although he had not objected to Clapper’s informal use of it, he believed its formal adoption with a string of concrete duties attached to it conjured the image of a DCI-like figure within DOD. Such a person, in exercising his DOD-wide role, could come to be viewed as a substitute for, or competitor with, the DCI (part of the problem was simply that the titles sounded similar). He raised with Deputy Secretary Perry and Undersecretary John Deutch his concern that the title might confuse foreign liaison services and Congress and that it could raise unnecessary issues regarding the management of the NRO or NSA, which might be seen more as components of military intelligence than as national assets. He made it clear he did not want to alter the way those agencies were viewed or managed. He also made it clear that the issue was not over Lt. Gen. Clapper’s duties or the way he performed them within DOD, which in fact he appreciated, but simply over the title itself and its possible unwanted implications.

In the end, Woolsey’s objections carried the day, and DOD did not adopt the new title. Clapper’s superiors in the Pentagon saw no particular gain in the proposal and no value in fighting for the initiative in the face of the DCI’s opposition. In and of itself, the issue was only symbolic, but it did relate to the key issue of how to improve intelligence support to military operations, which was an ongoing matter of DCI concern in the 1990s with respect to his community role. It also reflected an intra-DOD issue of how best to organize DOD intelligence, an issue that necessarily involves the DCI’s community role and in some ways is the most difficult aspect of the DCI’s job because the DOD elements of the community are far and away the largest ones.


“Needs” Process

Woolsey inherited and continued the effort begun by Gates to streamline the Intelligence Community’s requirements process, an initiative aimed in part at assuring Congress that the community focused on supporting the policy community’s current and future needs and was not simply continuing Cold War era operations.[10] Woolsey’s new NIC chairman, Harvard professor Joseph Nye, became the chief sponsor for the project, working in conjunction with CMS. Woolsey, who did not like the usual term “requirements” (he believed it lacked precision and was used non-rigorously by managers to justify programs), decreed that the new process would address consumers’ intelligence information “needs.”

Keith Hall, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in OSD, had suggested a “tiered” approach to prioritizing the intelligence needs of national policy officials, and George Tenet, the senior director for intelligence programs on the NSC staff, judged that such a system would be useful and stood ready to staff the NSC process to lay down the new administration’s intelligence priorities. Woolsey accepted Hall’s idea and the general direction of the staff work done under Gates, and within a few months he notified community leaders regarding the basic shape of the new process. He described a five-layered system of priorities. Tiers one through four covered all countries of the world, from those few deserving “full service” attention (tier one) to those where “virtually no level of effort” would be maintained (tier four), and a special tier zero accounted for crisis coverage of world hot spots on a more near-term basis (the next 3 to 12 months). The scheme included the establishment of a set of substantive issue areas and the appointment by the DCI for each one of a community “issue manager,” who would coordinate community-wide efforts to address each issue area.

In the fall of 1993, CMS sent to Tenet a strawman of which countries might go in each tier and asked for NSC review, modification, and approval. Also, an initial model of a “United States Intelligence Strategy” on a specific country was coordinated within the community and approved by Woolsey as an example of how an issue manager could orchestrate the community’s efforts on an important target of intelligence interest.[11] In 1994, Woolsey designated the issue areas and the “issue coordinators” responsible for them and tried to move to practical implementation steps.[12] The issue coordinators Woolsey chose were mainly the NIOs and heads of DCI centers, people who already reported to the DCI in their regular positions, and they moved ahead with developing comprehensive reviews of their areas of responsibility.[13] NIC and CMS staffers worked with the NSC staff throughout 1994 in trying to create a list of intelligence needs approved by senior policymakers. (Success came only after Woolsey left office, when in March 1995 President Clinton signed a directive setting forth in a modified tier format the intelligence priorities for his administration.)[14]

In the end, it was hard to discern specific improvements accomplished by the requirements process reform. The main gain seemed to be the utility of the new collection and production boards set up under Gates in promoting coordination across the community on a given target and in advancing substantive “issues” as focal points for attention rather than the collection disciplines (the latter approach reinforces rather than cuts across organizational lines).[15] The process also kept the DCI in the forefront of managing community-wide change in the post-Cold War era, thus sustaining his community role and serving as a counterbalance to having each agency work its downsizing strategy separately.


Law Enforcement and Counterintelligence

Woolsey moved quickly after assuming office to play an active role in defining how the Intelligence Community should conduct business in areas that related to law enforcement. Allegations regarding CIA’s involvement with foreign banks had become an issue of public controversy, new areas of intelligence support such as the smuggling of aliens into the United States had come to the fore, and counterintelligence and security issues abounded (and became consuming in Woolsey’s second year as DCI thanks to the espionage case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, who was arrested in February 1994). This area of action was not so much about the DCI’s role within the community as about how the DCI should lead in shaping overall policies and practices that would enable “his” community to interact effectively with the very different community of law enforcement. A lawyer himself, Woolsey was well qualified to play an active role in dealing with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and other players in this dialogue.

Woolsey moved immediately to place CIA’s General Counsel in charge of a task force of CIA and community officers to look at how the Intelligence Community, which focused on foreign events, could improve its support to US law enforcement without becoming inappropriately involved in domestic affairs. Areas to be examined included how to shape and disseminate intelligence reporting for this purpose, how to handle collection requirements from the law enforcement community, and how to educate law enforcement and regulatory officials about the capabilities and limitations of what foreign intelligence could do for them. He issued orders within CIA to support this effort directly and sent a memorandum to Intelligence Community leaders appending his internal CIA memorandum and urging them to focus on their own agencies’ relationships to law enforcement issues.

A broad area that required DCI attention related to law enforcement was that of transnational issues, especially terrorism and narcotics. The FBI, under Director Louis Freeh, moved aggressively to establish a larger presence overseas in working with foreign partners on these issues, and the DCI attempted to improve cooperation between the Intelligence Community and the FBI. In general, the DCI and DDCI strove to increase the volume and content of dialogue in the face of Freeh’s firm belief that these topics were basically his to pursue and that the Intelligence Community’s role was a subordinate one centered on providing “lead” information. The DCI also had to contend with FBI or DOJ initiatives to draft legislation enhancing FBI authorities and even seeking to move resources out of the DCI’s intelligence budget. By late 1994, Woolsey gave deputy national security adviser Samuel Berger a pessimistic assessment of the differences between his views and DOJ/FBI’s with respect to foreign intelligence/law enforcement coordination and urged that this policy area receive greater future NSC and even presidential attention.

The give-and-take in this arena reflected the greater importance these issues now had for US foreign policy and the difficulties inherent in organizing the executive branch to deal with them. DCIs Casey, Webster, and Gates had created DCI centers to deal with the Intelligence Community aspects of these issues (and, in 1994, the DCI added the word “crime” to the title of his counternarcotics center—it became the Crime and Narcotics Center rather than the Counternarcotics Center—to reflect the new importance of intelligence support to federal law enforcement). DOJ, the FBI, and others were now moving to improve the arrangements for dealing with these issues within their bailiwicks. In the end, the needs of cross-agency cooperation to support national policy in these areas were so broad that only an arrangement made at the presidential level via the NSC would suffice (hence the creation of a White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1988 and the never-settled struggle in the 1990s to figure out how to organize best at the national level for countering international terrorism). Woolsey happened to be DCI when these pressures created new challenges to the DCI, and he felt compelled to mount a strong defense of Intelligence Community equities that he perceived to be under challenge. Little did he or anyone else know that the combination of greater dialogue and conflict between the foreign intelligence and law enforcement communities in the early 1990s foretold an even greater struggle that would ensue a decade later after the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001.

Woolsey also worked with senior officials in the new administration to establish under himself and the secretary of defense a Joint Security Commission to review security practices and procedures with an eye to shifting them from a Cold War mindset (which sought to protect national security secrets behind an absolute barrier) to an approach that managed risks attendant to new communications and information handling technologies in cost effective ways. Jeffrey Smith, an experienced Washington attorney, chaired the commission, which was established under DCI authorities and consisted largely of retired senior defense and intelligence officials.

In March 1994, the commission sent its report, “Redefining Security,” to the secretary of defense and the DCI. The commission judged that the government’s security system did not do a good job of identifying which threats deserved priority attention and was too fragmented among agencies. Its recommendations stressed personnel security improvements (Ames had just been arrested), more attention to protecting information management systems, and establishment of a new senior body to oversee security policy and of a new classification of information system. It emphasized “risk management,” by which it meant a cost versus benefit approach to countering foreign espionage and other security threats.

The Ames case jolted the administration into action. Woolsey’s efforts with the attorney general and the secretary of defense undergirded presidential actions taken in the spring of 1994. In May 1994 the president, via a directive that explicitly recognized the work of the DCI and Attorney General Joint Task Force on Intelligence Community-Law Enforcement Relations, established a National Counterintelligence Policy Board that reported to him via his national security adviser and that was chaired by a person designated by the DCI in consultation with the national security adviser. Under that board, a National Counterintelligence Operations Board and a National Counterintelligence Center were to be established.[16] Although the prominence of senior FBI officials in manning key posts within the new structure attracted the headlines in the wake of the Ames case, the larger significance was the new prominence and attention to the whole area of national counterintelligence and security policy and activities.

In the spring of 1994, the DCI and the deputy secretary of defense set up a Joint Security Executive Committee (JSEC) as a follow-on to the Joint Security Commission, and the administration moved to take the issue of security policy into the realm of White House action as well. In September 1994, another presidential directive converted the Joint Security Executive Committee into a national-level Security Policy Board that was to report to the President via his national security adviser. The national security adviser, in turn, immediately appointed the DCI and the deputy secretary of defense as the co-chairs of this board. Two existing committees, a Security Policy Forum set up under the JSEC and a State Department Overseas Security Policy Group, were folded into the new national structure, and appropriate staffing was arranged to support it.[17]

Woolsey’s actions kept the DCI in the forefront of the government’s efforts to deal with the problems of modernizing national counterintelligence and security in the post-Cold War era. Ironically, it was a leftover Cold War issue, the Ames case, that boosted this issue to the front burner. Woolsey recognized the importance of aligning the Intelligence Community better with structures outside itself and worked tirelessly to achieve progress. Woolsey served as an important and influential confidant of national security adviser Anthony Lake as Lake wrestled with shaping the president’s response to this area of responsibility. What was wrought—a complex structure of committees with cross-cutting lines of reporting and responsibility—was not pretty. But it did testify to Woolsey’s desire to carry out a particularly difficult duty responsibly.[18]


Unhappy Exit

The Ames case cast a long shadow over most of 1994. By the summer, news articles critical of Woolsey multiplied. He had his defenders, but his relationship with Congress had deteriorated, particularly with Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), chairman of SSCI, who called for his resignation, and he found little support in the White House. On 28 September 1994, Woolsey announced his administrative decisions holding some officers personally accountable for failures in connection with the Ames case and co-issued with Deputy Secretary of Defense Deutch a joint statement presenting the results of a study of the NRO headquarters building issue. Woolsey’s Ames case decisions were judged by many to be inadequate, however, and his standing in the administration had fallen to the point where, at the end of the year, he decided to resign. His leadership efforts, including his work on community matters, had fallen victim to perceived CIA failings, just as William Colby two decades earlier had found himself increasingly preoccupied with fending off public charges about his agency that sapped congressional and administration confidence in his leadership.

In Woolsey’s last weeks as DCI, he ordered preparation of papers to support the new commission on Intelligence Community roles and missions that had been created by the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995. He asked CMS to describe the difficult environment, including the new technologies, that intelligence faced, and he asked the heads of analysis at CIA and DIA to illustrate how intelligence supported policy. He had feared that congressional interest in re-examining intelligence would lead to an inquiry aimed at justifying additional program cuts and thus was glad that Senator John Warner (R-VA) co-sponsored an effort focused on roles rather than resources. Woolsey’s (and Deutch’s) efforts during 1994 to influence the direction of the work of the commission show how important such endeavors can be to DCIs interested in ensuring that their community role be at least recognized and possibly strengthened.

Woolsey departed fighting the same major battle that had faced his two predecessors: justifying the value of the community he headed against a general suspicion that budget outlays for intelligence had not been reduced enough in the absence of the Cold War. He had also fought lesser battles, arguing consistently against repeated suggestions that the intelligence top-line budget figure be publicized and that CIA’s general counsel become a Senate-confirmed presidential appointment. It was, in a sense, a replay of the 1970s, when, after the Vietnam War, DCIs accommodated to budget realities while at the same time fighting rearguard actions to protect existing capabilities. Following Woolsey’s departure, which came in early January 1995, the administration set about the task of finding a successor, leaving intelligence in the hands of Woolsey’s community-minded deputy, Adm. William Studeman, who now provided continuity between Woolsey and his successor just as he had between Gates and Woolsey.



[1]R. James Woolsey, in testimony before the SSCI, 2 February 1993, just before his installation as DCI. The colorful metaphor provided a “sound-bite” justification for his view that substantial intelligence resources were still needed in the post-Cold War era.

[2]The author served for several weeks as a staff officer supporting the so-called Woolsey Panel in 1992. He recalls asking former DCI Richard Helms, a member of the panel, who would draft the panel’s report. Smiling knowingly and referring to two blue-ribbon commissions of the 1980s, Helms replied: “Who do you think drafted the Scowcroft and Packard commission reports?” Woolsey did indeed write the report as well as lead the panel’s deliberations.

[3]Adm. Studeman had wanted such a seal created and used to denote community products. The DCI had had no seal up to this time, and neither had the Intelligence Community, which after all was not an ordinary “organization” such as an agency or department. Up until the early 1990s, NIEs carried the CIA’s seal and the words “Director of Central Intelligence” on their covers. After that point, the CIA seal was removed and a simple “DCI” sufficed, and then in the mid-1990s the new DCI/IC seal began to be used.

[4]The review committee members were the deputy directors of DIA and NSA and the associate deputy directors of CIA for operations and intelligence.

[5]Unmanned airborne systems came to the fore in the late 1990s and have played an important role in US operations against international terrorism. This pattern of DCI-led development of airborne systems and then “graduation” of such systems to DOD operational control had been played out in earlier years in the instances of the U-2 and the A-12/SR-71 aircraft. Woolsey loved the science and technology aspects of defense and intelligence matters. He instituted a new DCI award named for British electronic intelligence and warfare pioneer R. V. Jones and presented Jones with the premier edition of the medal in a ceremony at CIA in 1994.

[6]Editorial in the New York Times, 18 March 1993, and Woolsey’s response, 31 March 1993.

[7]Woolsey described this process in congressional testimony and to other groups, on one occasion saying that in 1993 he and Perry had met some 25 times and spent 70 hours in these joint sessions. The process reinforced the DCI’s authority with respect to the NFIP and, in a sense, addressed the charge contained in President Nixon’s November 1971 memorandum that the DCI examine “tactical” intelligence programs, at least enough to ensure that they were not duplicative of national ones.

[8]There were some in the Pentagon interested in rearranging DOD intelligence programs in ways that emphasized military requirements and downplayed the DCI’s program and budget role. In mid-1993, DIA suggested a revised intelligence program scheme that seemed to reduce the DCI’s role, causing a brief firestorm of discussion among community leaders and a decision to refer such matters to higher, civilian dialogue.

[9]Some CIA veterans have expressed exasperation with their dealings with OMB. Former DDCI John McMahon once reflected: “OMB, through my experience, has been basically an adversary. Seldom have I seen OMB take any action to help us or suggest that we do more of something other than reduce…. Each year OMB is a hurdle and an unnecessary drag on where the director wants to go with the agency and the community.” Others, including former CIA EXDIR Charles Briggs, have less negative impressions of the relationship.

[10]The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee pressed a congressionally directed action on the DCI to require that a majority of the members of Intelligence Community requirements panels have a non-intelligence background. This was perhaps the high-water mark of congressional concern that the community be responsive to policymakers rather than lead them to rubberstamp suggestions put forward by possibly parochial bureaucrats. At a conference in Charlottesville, VA, sponsored by CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) in September 2003, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft stressed the opposite point of view. He felt that it was best for the DCI to take the initiative to suggest a strawman of concerns that would be vetted by senior policymakers. (This approach supports the DCI’s warning function as well as the policymakers’ validation of their intelligence needs.)

[11]Woolsey’s approval was signified by his signature on the cover of the strategy, an accountability practice that had been commonly used for NIEs in the 1950s and 1960s but had fallen into disuse in later years.

[12]“Issue managers” had been too strong a term for some, and indeed their perception that such officers could accrue power in allocating or planning for resources was well placed. For example, Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, USN (ret.), the acting chairman of PFIAB, had written to the president in the last days of the Bush administration urging that incoming Clinton officials be encouraged to support giving the DCI’s Nonproliferation Center greater authority to review community-wide programs and budgets, and PFIAB member John Deutch had advocated the same thing to DCI-designate Woolsey.

[13]There was friction with DIA over the designation of the military area issue managers. Lt. Gen. Clapper, DIA’s director, saw that as a role he should have, whereas the DCI wanted to appoint a lower-ranking officer. This intersected with the “DMI” issue and other initiatives in which DOD efforts to organize defense intelligence presented issues involving the DCI’s community role.

[14]As he worked toward implementing his “National Intelligence Needs Process,” Woolsey was careful to keep in place and updated the venerable DCID 1/2 “US Foreign Intelligence Requirements Categories and Priorities” (FIRCAP) system devised in the 1970s, thus ensuring that he always had in operation an accepted system for fulfilling his basic community responsibility of setting collection requirements.

[15]This difference was highlighted at the CSI conference held in 2003 in Charlottesville. Then Executive Director for Intelligence Community Affairs Larry Kindsvater proposed making substantive issue areas the main basis for reorganizing national intelligence, in effect converting the relatively weak issue coordinators of the early 1990s into “commanders” with real resources at their command. On the opposite side of the debate, Lt. Gen. William Odom, USA (ret.), a former head of NSA, argued for strengthening the INT-based structure of the community, splitting up the NRO and CIA in the process. For a fuller description of these competing ideas, see Larry C. Kindsvater, “The Need to Reorganize the Intelligence Community,” Studies in Intelligence 47, no. 1 (2003): 33–37, and William E. Odom, Fixing Intelligence: For a More Secure America.

[16]Several existing committees were replaced by the new structure. Also, a Security Policy Advisory Board was created to provide the president with non-governmental, public interest advice. The members of the new top-level counterintelligence board were senior representatives of the DCI, the FBI, three executive departments (Defense, State, and Justice), a military department counterintelligence component, and the NSC staff (the senior director for intelligence programs).

[17]The members of the Security Policy Board were the DCI, the deputy secretary of defense, the vice chairman of the JCS, the deputy secretary of state, the under secretary of energy, the deputy secretary of commerce, the deputy attorney general, a deputy secretary of a non-defense related agency, and a representative of OMB and the NSC staff.

[18]At the same time as these counterintelligence and security issues were being considered, an emphasis on declassifying government information was also under way. Senator Moynihan (D-NY) pushed successfully for a commission on governmental secrecy, and the Clinton administration took initiatives to declassify as much national security information as could safely be accomplished. Woolsey was active, along with the heads or deputy heads of major executive branch departments (Defense, State, and Energy), in trying to make the new declassification regulations realistic in terms of what departments and agencies could be expected to carry out.

Historical Document
Posted: Mar 16, 2007 08:48 AM
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2008 12:32 PM