Seventeenth DCI, John Mark Deutch
John Deutch: Beyond the Community
So, the idea of community management then is a myth?
DCI Woolsey’s departure in early January 1995 left his DDCI, Adm. William Studeman, in charge of a community in the midst of dealing with various currents of reform. The elections in the fall of 1994 had brought the Republican Party to power in Congress, and its leader in the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich of Georgia, advocated a strong intelligence and defense posture. Along with that support for adequate resources came a desire to have a say in just how that posture should be shaped, so the role of Congress—already an active player in intelligence matters during the preceding half dozen years—promised to continue to be a salient factor in the DCI’s life.
The administration in February 1995 settled on retired Air Force Gen. Michael P. C. Carns to succeed Woolsey. Carns began reading in and preparing for his confirmation hearings, but his nomination faltered when an individual alleged wrong-doing by Carns in connection with the person’s immigration into the United States, which Carns had sponsored. Carns withdrew rather than weather the inevitable controversy that would have accompanied his confirmation.
The president then prevailed on John M. Deutch, the deputy secretary of defense, to accept the DCI position. Deutch was an experienced player in the world of Washington, knowledgeable about national intelligence issues and established associate of other leading administration officials in the national security field. His close working relationship with DCI Woolsey in the first two years of the Clinton administration certainly gave him a running start in terms of specific knowledge about changes under way and offered a clear opportunity for continuity. His nomination struck fear, however, in the hearts of those at CIA worried that DOD’s influence over national intelligence agencies had already grown too strong and would only increase under Deutch. The president granted Deutch membership in his cabinet, a development that potentially strengthened his community leadership role and marked a clear-cut difference from his predecessor, who had not been given that status.
Continuing to Cope with Change
In the four-month interregnum between Woolsey and Deutch, DDCI Studeman fostered a steady pace of staff activities aimed at exploring options for change that could be presented to the next DCI. At an Intelligence Community conference held 30–31 January 1995, Studeman pushed for continued efforts to integrate and reform the intelligence business. Wanting to undertake another phase of reform, he appointed three task forces to look at intelligence priorities, resources, and capabilities. He appealed to all community members to support these staff efforts, which were chaired by senior officers in the NIC and CMS.
Studeman also authorized a less formal “Intelligence Community Revolution Task Force” consisting of staff officers from various agencies to explore “out-of-the-box” ideas in an effort to supplement the more formal task forces. He had anticipated more “evolutionary” suggestions from the regular task forces, and he hoped this extra-curricular effort—which had no charter or specified leadership—would stir the pot of ideas more vigorously. It began work in March 1995 and reported its results to the new DCI in June 1995. The main thrust of its conclusions was to attempt more radical steps to aggregate, integrate, and fuse national intelligence activities. For example, it recommended combining all intelligence collection into one organization, forming a single multidisciplinary analytic service, adopting common professional development and infrastructure programs, and empowering the DCI as a real “CEO” [chief executive officer] for the community. It was more a cri de coeur than a practical plan for action, and it did not lead to any concrete actions although the notions it espoused contributed to a general atmosphere of unease about the status quo and a tendency to look for ways to change.
Studeman also continued discussions with the Department of Justice on increasing cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement entities. The work of two interagency groups, the Joint Intelligence Community Law Enforcement Working Group and the Overseas Coordination Special Task Force, uncovered problems that required attention at senior levels. Studeman initiated an exchange of biweekly meetings with Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, and soon after Deutch took office Studeman and Gorelick formed an Intelligence-Law Enforcement Policy Board to advise their chiefs regarding how to improve cooperation and coordination between their respective communities on various issues of common concern, especially transnational issues such as international terrorism and crime. There were many such topics, and joint task forces were formed to take up several of the most important.
The dialogue was not a natural or easy one. Studeman regularly briefed national security adviser Anthony Lake and others on the NSC staff about how it was proceeding, giving generally positive reports on his exchanges with Gorelick but also highlighting problem areas that constantly needed attention. He sensed from some at Justice, for example, a belief that law enforcement authorities had “a natural primacy,” and he felt compelled to object to what he regarded as attempted FBI “raids” on the intelligence budget based on such FBI claims as insistence that FBI should control all counternarcotics programs. These discussions led NSC staff officers to wonder if there could ever be a single center for counterterrorism, for example, in view of the deep differences between the law enforcement and foreign intelligence communities.
Studeman also proceeded to work up a new DCID on information warfare. This topic had emerged in the 1990s as an important area of potential actions for both defense and intelligence. For two years Studeman had been concerned that the DCI have an appropriate “intelligence” policy or doctrine to accompany the DOD’s active efforts to define and organize this newly emphasized area of activity (the term information warfare, IW, gave way soon to the term “information operations,” or IO). Again, as with law enforcement, the key was to mesh the Intelligence Community’s work with that of a large and important policy department outside the authority of the DCI.
Deutch did little to allay CIA’s fears about Pentagon influence in taking over as DCI. He brought with him from DOD a new team of aides who assumed senior positions in the CIA and in his own office, including CMS. Nora Slatkin, an assistant secretary of the Navy, came in as CIA’s executive director, in charge of all day-to-day operations at CIA. Keith Hall, another DOD colleague of Deutch’s as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, became his executive director for Intelligence Community affairs, replacing Haver. Deutch also brought two personal aides to serve as his chief of staff (Michael O’Neil, a former congressional staff officer familiar with intelligence issues who later served as CIA’s general counsel) and his executive assistant (Brig. Gen. Michael Hagee, USMC, who in 2002 became commandant of the Marine Corps).
Deutch invented a novel senior position he called associate director of central intelligence for military support (ADCI/MS) and filled it with a well regarded Navy rear admiral, Dennis Blair, who was soon awarded his third star (Blair later became Commander-in-Chief Pacific and a finalist in the JCS chairman sweepstakes of 2001). This position cemented the notion that intelligence support to the US military would be a high priority for the DCI and for CIA, and it elevated the rank, prominence, and influence of the senior military officer at Langley. It also gave the DCI another senior non-CIA officer with whom to consult, and Blair was added to the membership of NFIB. In 1996, feedback from the DCI to CMS about the Joint Intelligence Guidance being finalized with DOD for FY 1998–2003 (for NFIP, JMIP, and TIARA) was transmitted via VAdm. Blair, indicating that Blair was an active player in final OSD, JCS, and DCI coordination. Blair also weighed in at the top level on intelligence program items deemed critical to military needs. In 1997, Blair’s successor, Lt. Gen. John Gordon, USAF, became DDCI.
Bringing personal staff into an organization is a normal development for many senior federal appointees. At CIA, however, it was unusual. Adm. Turner had done so in 1977, but even though his lieutenants largely fulfilled his personal staffing needs, the precedent had not gone down well with the rank and file. Casey’s effort to salt CIA with a couple of Wall Street colleagues also was an unpleasant memory for many CIA veterans. Webster had brought several trusted aides with him, but they had served in staff positions within his own office, not in prominent line positions for either CIA or community affairs. Neither Gates nor Woolsey had imported aides except for their use of one or two outsiders as personal staff. Deutch’s importation of a full team of both personal aides and senior office holders from outside (and appointment within his first months of new deputy directors for intelligence and operations from CIA’s professional ranks) was the most sweeping such change in CIA history. For the community, it signaled that the new DCI might not be biased in favor of CIA programs as he considered his community-wide responsibilities.
Program of Change
Deutch envisaged himself as an agent of responsible change both for the community as a whole and for CIA. He used his new team of senior advisers to build a top-level program that continued the emphasis on integration across organizational boundaries that had been fostered by Gates and Woolsey, but he added new areas of emphasis. He used his personal relationships with other administration seniors at DOD, Justice, and elsewhere to advance his ideas outside the Intelligence Community, and he also used conferences for CIA and for community leaders to push his themes for change within his own bailiwick. The informal name given to the program was “The Symphony,” an apt moniker that reflected well the reality of the Intelligence Community. The DCI indeed was a kind of conductor using an overall score, whereas the constituent members of his orchestra, while responding to his coordination or leadership, followed individual scores appropriate for their own instruments.
Deutch accorded improving personnel policy a prominent place among his announced goals. In testifying before Congress early in his tenure, he asserted that “I believe that strengthening the personnel system in the Intelligence Community, and in CIA in particular, is perhaps the single most important action that can be taken to strengthen US intelligence capability in the long run.” Personnel policy had been a prominent aspect of the change accomplished at DOD under the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and attention to this issue served the overall purpose of integrating the various agencies that made up the Intelligence Community. The first structured employee rotational program across the community, the Intelligence Community Assignment Program (ICAP), was approved during Deutch’s tenure. Nora Slatkin also emphasized this topic within CIA, leading a major effort to improve CIA’s human resources policies, both to integrate the major parts of CIA and to purge CIA of perceived problems in the wake of the Ames case. When asked about the existing program of “partnership” between the DI and the DO in CIA at an agency “town meeting,” Deutch responded that he knew well the “university world, where there is an enormous tendency to build stovepipes,” viewed that tendency as something to “be resisted,” and would act as “a corporate person.”
Deutch installed a “mission-based” program and budget system that he believed would serve as an instrument of integration within the community as well as between the DCI and the secretary of defense (the four major mission areas requiring intelligence were: military operations, national policy, law enforcement, and counterintelligence). Other major goals included establishing a new imagery agency, improving the CIA’s directorate of operations and covert action programs, jointly managing space policy and activities with DOD, assisting cooperation on HUMINT between CIA and DIA and between DIA and the military services, and giving attention to improving coordination and intelligence support for information warfare, economic intelligence, and counterintelligence. These themes were staffed out, milestones were developed, and community offsite meetings in July and October 1995 featured them.
Although Deutch used all his senior aides in working community issues, thus gaining staff support from offices such as those of CIA’s general counsel and the ADCI/MS, he also recognized that CMS needed strengthening. In the HPSCI hearing where he had questioned whether the DCI’s community management role was a myth, Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) noted that “the need for a strong central community planning, programming and budgeting staff has been…historically a problem with the DCI in his community management role,” with the DCI having “weak community management resources…compared to those of the Secretary of Defense.” Deutch agreed, arguing that he did not need more assistant secretaries but did need a stronger and larger staff. Dicks elicited from Keith Hall admissions about the modest size of CMS and an estimate of what substantial increase might be required.
Like many of his predecessors, Deutch viewed his roles as head of the community and of CIA as mutually supportive and non-conflictive. His major interest was his community role, and he told Congress that he believed a DCI “must put a priority on his or her role as being head of the community.” But he also characterized that community as having CIA “at the hub of the wheel, independent of the policy departments and with a hand in every INT.” He was determined to operate on all levels: leading the community in its “external” relationships with other departments and agencies and with Congress, leading it in its internal coordination and teamwork, and leading CIA to a post-Ames future marked by continual improvement in professionalism and cooperation with other agencies.
We have already seen how Gates and Woolsey induced policymakers to construct, or at least approve, lists of intelligence priorities, and how they then sought to use these lists of geographic and topic-defined targets as frameworks for leading community-wide discussions of appropriate intelligence activities intended to address them. In March 1995, two months before Deutch was sworn in as DCI, President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-35, entitled “Intelligence Priorities,” laying out his approved array of top informational needs that intelligence should supply. It was the culmination of two years of NSC staff consideration of just how to formulate presidential guidance to the DCI, and it supplanted the Bush administration’s similar document promulgated in March 1992 (NSD-67).
PDD-35, as the directive was called, followed a modified “tiered” concept in declaring as Tier 1 targets requiring priority intelligence attention a few countries that were either rogue states threatening regional stability or major strategic powers and a few transnational issues such as proliferation (the specified countries made up Tier 1A, and the transnational issues made up Tier 1B, which also specified the most important countries of concern for each issue). A Tier 0 was also created to cover subjects of crisis concern that entailed high level policy attention and possibly US troop deployments. In addition, the president designated as his “highest priority” the provision of timely information to American military commanders “whenever U.S. forces are deployed.”
Describing intelligence needs in tiers was originally intended to be comprehensive (four tiers had been envisaged, similar to the taxonomy of NSD-67) and thus show with some clarity where less or no effort should be expended as well as what deserved priority attention. This fit an overall political objective of the early 1990s to reduce intelligence spending responsibly. PDD-35 dealt only with the clearly important items at the top of anybody’s list of intelligence topics, however, and it soon appeared to some that the scheme was attracting many of the available resources to the top priority targets and leaving others untended. Also, by the time the directive was issued, the Republicans, some of whom wished to increase spending for intelligence, had won majorities in both houses of Congress, and they held hearings to examine skeptically the impact of the new directive (reviews of how the community was responding to PDD-35 concluded that even attention to Tier 1B targets suffered from the concentration on Tier 1A and Tier 0).
PDD-35 left it up to the DCI, working with consumers of intelligence, to define how intelligence would attack the top priority targets. In fact, the “needs process” set up by Woolsey was already developing plans for appropriate intelligence production and collection, detailing what was being done, what shortfalls remained, and what additional efforts might be undertaken. In the spring of 1995 the NIC produced a volume entitled Enduring Intelligence Challenges that closely paralleled PDD-35 in content, and in the fall the issue coordinators Woolsey had designated, staffed by the NIC, produced an initial set of 18 “Strategic Intelligence Reviews” covering their substantive issue areas.
Soon after Deutch took office, George Tenet, the senior NSC staff officer who had shepherded PDD-35 through approval, replaced Adm. Studeman as DDCI (Studeman retired, having completed a three-year-plus tour of duty at Langley). Deutch and Tenet decided on a “hard targets process” that would gather groups made up of representatives from across the Intelligence Community to identify and address key gaps in coverage of the most important topics. In order to help this effort drive program planning and resource decisions, they added a new level of senior management involvement called the “Intelligence Community Principals” forum, which reviewed the plans prepared by the “hard targets” working groups, and placed staff support for the new process in CMS, their resource issues staff. Tenet personally took this process under his wing and chaired the principals-level meetings that dealt with resource recommendations. The initial results served mainly to underscore a conclusion that the community faced numerous serious shortfalls, leading the DDCI to characterize the reviews to PFIAB in mid-1996 as “very sobering.” The DDCI asserted, however, that the process was a “major step toward greater cross-program integration” and addressed “the biggest weakness of the Intelligence Community…its inability to manage across functional disciplines or even within individual disciplines.”
…and Not-So-Hard Targets
The president’s directive left several tasks up to the DCI in addition to defining strategies for attacking the top priority targets. For one thing, the DCI was on his own to add to the president’s guidance to construct more detailed and more comprehensive guidance for the Intelligence Community. Adopting the recommendation of a task force on intelligence priorities, Deutch approved adding Tiers 2, 3, and 4 to fill out the tier concept as originally intended.
Concern about the high degree of emphasis on the presidential priorities raised the issue of how less-than-top priority subjects would be addressed, an issue that became known as “global coverage,” the poor twin of the “hard targets.” For example, the withdrawal of some of CIA’s presence in Africa, some of the State Department’s personnel abroad, and other factors implied that intelligence on some areas and topics would have to rely almost solely on “open-source” data. Such data hopefully would suffice to supply general awareness or give early warning that a low-priority country was tending toward instability or some other situation that would bring it to the fore of US attention (conceivably even raising it to Tier 0 status because of the possible need to deploy US troops or to orchestrate a regional response to a catastrophic situation).
The international environment of the 1990s provided numerous examples of precisely such pressures on US policy. Haiti and central Africa, for example, became important issues requiring US attention, including the deployment of US military capabilities. Such countries, of course, were not to be found on the president’s list of top threats to the United States. But they certainly took up a lot of presidential time, and senior policymakers placed demands on the DCI and the Intelligence Community to supply information about them and to support actions to deal with them.
Activities associated with the “hard targets” and “needs” processes continued throughout Deutch’s term in office and beyond. An NSC committee approved minor updates to the priorities in PDD-35, and in October 1996 the NSC amended the directive to add “global coverage” as a presidential interest, thus addressing the fears of those who thought intelligence had focused too exclusively on Tier 0 and Tier 1 topics. In early 1997, the NIC prepared and DDCI (and acting DCI) Tenet issued to the community the DCI Guidance on Intelligence Priorities, a successor to the task force report done in 1995. This guidance addressed both top priorities and global coverage concerns and defined a new Tier 2 as a “watch” group of countries with ominous volatility that could spawn international crises.
Issue Coordinators and Center Chiefs
NIOs and other analytic officers (mainly from CIA) served as the issue coordinators and chairs of working-level community meetings for both the needs and the hard targets exercises. There was considerable skepticism in DOD about how much influence they should have on resource decisions because most of them lacked expertise on the details involved in managing major intelligence programs. There was at least a formal acceptance, however, of the practice of defining intelligence targets and problems in terms of substantive objects of intelligence interest (e.g., terrorism) as a workable approach for the DCI to take to examine the plans and activities of the various agencies that made up the community (thus cutting across “stovepipe” organizations).
The issue coordinators for the major transnational issues were, naturally enough, the DCI center chiefs. Under Deutch, several rounds of bureaucratic battle were fought with respect to the appropriate community role for the senior officer in charge of weapons proliferation. Proliferation and terrorism generally were (and in 2005 still are) thought of as the two most important transnational topics for intelligence to address, and their intersection (acquisition by terrorists of weapons of mass destruction) became, after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the most fearsome threat facing the United States. Both topics are usually preceded by the prefix “counter” to indicate the strong desire for “actionable” intelligence, that is, information that supports not just an understanding of the problem but also actions that do something about it.
The DCI Counterterrorist Center (CTC) had been established in 1986 within CIA’s DO, and it was from the outset the most integrated unit of its kind. Analysts of the topic became part of the center, and they directly supported the targeting of collection as well as decisions and actions taken to counter terrorism. In response to the president’s urgings that the Intelligence Community redouble its efforts against the threat of foreign terrorism, Deutch created a Terrorism Warning Group within CTC and solicited officers from CIA, State, the FBI, DIA, and NSA to man it. The intent was to create a “dedicated national-level threat warning unit,” that would “have as its exclusive focus the review of intelligence from all sources to provide warning on possible foreign terrorist attacks against US and Allied personnel, facilities, and interests.”
The DCI Nonproliferation Center (NPC) was established in the early 1990s, but it did not pull together in one place the various key intelligence officers either in analysis or in operations. In fact, throughout the 1990s, how much centralization of resources or authority it should have was a bone of contention—and a bureaucratic headache—for DCIs from Gates to Tenet. During Deutch’s tenure, PFIAB recommended that stronger authority and capability be assigned to the NPC to strengthen the intelligence effort on issues of biological and chemical warfare. In addressing the board’s study (just after Deutch left office), the director of the center blamed most of the shortcomings cited by PFIAB on a lack of willingness of other organizations, especially within CIA, to cede to the center what it needed to do the job. He reviewed the attention paid to NPC by DCIs Gates, Woolsey, and Deutch, noting that even Deutch, the DCI most knowledgeable about biological and chemical threats because of his background in science and most sympathetic to a stronger NPC, had not broken the “cultural” and bureaucratic chains blocking progress. At the same time, he argued that the “CTC-like” option PFIAB had commended suggested an analogy that did not hold up under scrutiny.
This story about NPC shows how difficult it was in the 1990s for DCIs to wrestle with the organizational and other aspects of adjusting the community to a post-Cold War target set. Proliferation and terrorism were now primary targets, not secondary to a world-wide struggle with a powerful adversary country. Short of total reorganization around those topics (and NSA and other agencies were no more willing to do that than were the DO and the DI within CIA), the DCI had to come up with in-between structures and processes that left almost all participants and overseers dissatisfied in some major degree. Part of the problem was personality and particulars, but much of it was basic to mission and management. After Deutch left office, acting DCI Tenet responded formally to the president’s national security adviser with a temporizing approach that promised to look at the most important issues raised by PFIAB in program reviews conducted jointly with DOD and at the continuing unresolved issue of organization.
Another issue that came in for some modestly increased attention under Deutch was the environment. This topic was of high interest to Vice President Gore, and Deutch adopted an approach that took on what he saw as an inexpensive area of intelligence endeavor that could take advantage of already existing community ties to scientists. He was careful to stress that this work would not interfere with more traditional high priority security threat targets such as terrorism. Rhetorically, however, since the State Department had indicated that the topic was in the “mainstream” of US foreign policy interests, Deutch declared to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in July 1996 that it would also be in “the mainstream of US intelligence activities.”
National Imagery and Mapping Agency
In organizational terms, the big event for the Intelligence Community during Deutch’s tenure as DCI was the establishment of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), which began operations at the beginning of October 1996. This development had been a long time coming. DCIs Gates and Woolsey had helped pave the way, and DCI Deutch was determined to carry through with this major step. He promised during his confirmation hearings in the spring of 1995 that he would press to create a new national imagery organization, and he and Keith Hall, who headed CMS during his tenure and believed strongly in the need for the agency, provided the top-level community leadership required to gain congressional approval. Deutch, of course, enjoyed the stature and experience of having been deputy secretary of defense, and thus was in a position to be an especially persuasive advocate with the secretary of defense and the chairman of the JCS.
When the steering group responsible for charting the path to the new agency’s creation met for the first time in June 1995, it talked of a National Imagery Agency. “Imagery” was of course a longtime DCI responsibility, whereas “mapping” for national security purposes was done by the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) within DOD. Keith Hall and Adm. William A. Owens, USN, the vice chairman of the JCS, chaired the steering group, and it relied on the thinking and planning conducted up to that point by various task forces. A key step was adding DMA into the ingredient mix, a step that had been suggested and rejected several years before. This time around, the chairman of the JCS, Gen. John Shalikashvili, USA, was willing to see this important combat support activity subsumed within a DOD agency over which the DCI held certain authorities, and so the transition from “imagery” to “imagery and mapping” occurred.
The step was a painful one for CIA. The National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), which had grown out of a DI unit dating to the early 1950s and had been established by presidential order in 1961 as a joint CIA/DOD activity housed at CIA, left CIA and became part of the new DOD agency. Just a few years before, CIA had merged the somewhat more specialized imagery analysts in the DI’s separate Office of Imagery Analysis (it did work associated with supporting CIA’s DO operations and DI analysis) with its imagery analysts at NPIC. So, in losing NPIC, CIA gave up imagery analysis as an agency function, closing out a lengthy and proud chapter of its history. A “grandfathered” arrangement of continued CIA career status for those CIA employees who wished it was agreed to, although this remained for years a sticking point as successive heads of NIMA wanted to have their workforce within a single personnel system. That Deutch, a DCI who had come from DOD and who was believed by many to want to return to DOD as its head, oversaw the change did not make it any easier for many CIA careerists, although had it been done earlier under Gates the feelings would scarcely have been warmer.
CIA’s concurrence in the plan was clearly a top-down decision taken by Deutch and his hand-picked executive director for CIA, Nora Slatkin. If some CIA sensibilities were overridden in their decision, however, Deutch and Slatkin were sensitive to equities the DCI had in his community role. They insisted, for example, that the head of the new agency be, like the head of NSA, an official of senior rank who reported directly to the secretary of defense. Also, where some early drafts of the directives governing the new agency seemed to indicate sharing of the authority to set collection priorities between the secretary and the DCI, Deutch and Slatkin insisted on continuance of clear-cut DCI peacetime tasking authority.
At the time the new agency was created, Deutch was in receipt of the final report of a new “Imagery Architecture Study” that laid out the principal considerations for how best to transition overhead imaging capabilities to a new era of smaller satellites, emerging commercial imaging system “competition,” and the post-Cold War target set. No doubt one incentive to get the NIMA change accomplished was to be able to concentrate on the multiple tasks of modernizing the capabilities being planned and built for the future and take advantage of the digital revolution that would benefit both imagery and mapping under an integrated organizational leadership.
Creating the new agency was an historic step (the other major national intelligence agencies and NPIC, after all, had been founded in the 15 years from 1947 to 1961), and it constituted a victory of DCI leadership at least in a bureaucratic and organizational sense. And, insofar as it also involved a devolution of CIA’s mission, it seemed all the more a community-oriented decision. The action furthered the notion that organizing around “INTs” was a valid concept (the new agency unabashedly copied NSA as its model), and thus was in that sense a continuation of an important strand of thinking about how the community ought to be organized. Whether NIMA would in fact achieve greater performance for both imagery and mapping remained to be seen in 1996, and skepticism about the wisdom of the step continued to be expressed, especially by CIA veterans concerned that imagery analysts would now be farther away from the world of all-source analysis and drawn inexorably toward supporting tactical military operations. The DCI had to respond to congressional skepticism as well, allaying fears that national policymakers were being shortchanged relative to military customers.
Commissions and Studies
One reason Congress was willing to approve the establishment of NIMA was that the period of Deutch’s tenure as DCI in 1995 and 1996 witnessed much publicity given to ideas for “reforming” the nation’s intelligence business recommended by formal studies and reviews outside the Intelligence Community. Congress wanted some tangible results from these efforts. Congressional dissatisfaction in the aftermath of the Ames case, a sense that no new post-Cold War concept or mission for intelligence had been adopted, and continued concern about how well intelligence could support increasing deployments of US military forces overseas fueled this interest. Also, the new Republican majority was determined to have the Congress play a more active role in setting the national security agenda, including in the field of intelligence.
HPSCI, under the chairmanship of Larry Combest (R-TX), conducted a study called “IC 21” of the overall missions and shape of the Intelligence Community. Led by Mark Lowenthal, the committee’s staff director and a former INR analyst, it came up with the boldest set of recommendations for change of any of the studies conducted. Going beyond the notion of setting up NIMA, the committee placed in the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1997 a demand that the DCI study the possibility of creating a new HUMINT agency (essentially the CIA’s DO, with DOD’s clandestine operators folded in as well) and a new single agency for conducting “technical intelligence collection” activities (in effect, combining NSA, NIMA, and all MASINT activities). It envisaged a new “CIA” that would be the nation’s premier all-source intelligence analysis agency, and it recommended two DDCI positions, one for CIA and one for the community. It left room for the creation of a “DMI” within DOD, and overall it seemed to strengthen the DCI’s authority vis-à-vis the secretary of defense’s, suggesting that the DCI advise and concur in the secretary’s choices for heads of the major intelligence agencies in DOD.
Although the radical HPSCI idea about organizing the technical INTs into a super-agency went nowhere, it was a visionary concept that carried the notion of multi-INT fusion—a concept much favored by the military—to an extreme and thus provided a far-reaching benchmark for those interested in simplifying top-level structures and centralizing authority for intelligence activities. Deutch’s response to HPSCI’s interest in the DMI idea, which had given Woolsey such heartburn, was a thoughtful rebuttal. To him, it did not address a pressing need. The US warfighter, Deutch believed, needed intelligence fused with operations within his command: “Setting apart a separate military intelligence structure is in my mind not a useful way of achieving that.” Instead, Deutch indicated that his principal concern about DOD management of intelligence was with strengthening civilian oversight. He worried about “the complexity and the magnitude of the single position” of the ASD/C3I. He wanted C3 and intelligence to be closely integrated and therefore did not want to split off intelligence as a separate account. But at the same time he was concerned that, even with so expert a secretary of defense as his friend William Perry, it was a difficult set of accounts to manage.
Another major study of the intelligence community undertaken while Deutch was DCI was the so-called Aspin-Brown Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the US Intelligence Community (former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin was the initial chairman of this group, but he died before the study was completed and was replaced by Harold Brown, another former secretary of defense). Like the IC 21 study, it supported a strong US intelligence system, and it sought to bolster the role of the DCI. The commission (the staff director was Britt Snider, an SSCI staff colleague of DDCI George Tenet’s) eschewed the more radical ideas in the IC 21 study, keeping CIA intact and the DCI as its head as well as head of the community and supporting the establishment of an imagery agency. It advocated two DDCIs, one for the community and one for CIA, and it carefully laid out a “concurrence” role for the DCI to play in assisting the secretary of defense in appointing the heads of NSA, the NRO, and the imagery agency and a “consultative” DCI role in assisting various executive department heads choose the chiefs of their intelligence units. It also recommended that the NSC establish, under the national security adviser, a Committee on Foreign Intelligence to discuss major intelligence issues (similar to the CFI that had existed briefly under President Ford) and, under the deputy national security adviser, a Consumers Committee to update priorities periodically (IC 21 also had endorsed a strengthened NSC role in overseeing intelligence). Finally, the commission recommended a new NSC Global Crime Committee chaired by the national security adviser to strengthen the coordination of foreign intelligence and law enforcement efforts.
Deutch studied the commission’s ideas and recommended an administration response to the president. He took advantage of the commission’s realism to push for ideas he wanted, such as forming NIMA, and pointed out that administration action would help influence, and maybe even “stop the progress” on, the more radical reorganization legislation being contemplated by HPSCI. He suggested that the president establish the NSC intelligence committees that had been recommended and the Global Crime Committee as well, and that he strengthen the attorney general’s role on global crime and support the existing committee arrangements between the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community that coordinated actions in their two domains. The already adopted PDD-35, he suggested, stood as the administration’s response to demands that it define a post-Cold War mission for national intelligence.
Deutch’s counter to the commission’s ideas on new deputies was to suggest keeping the general deputy position that already existed (the DDCI) and adding two new presidentially appointed posts, one for CIA and one for the community. (He also suggested that he might appoint a second “associate” DCI for “international support,” thus giving intelligence support to diplomacy equal billing with the position he had established for military support.) As to the DCI’s role in appointing other intelligence chiefs, Deutch advocated full concurrence rights for all such positions. He frankly admitted that that would not be agreeable to his cabinet colleagues, however, and therefore indicated his willingness to live with the status quo. The attorney general’s office had been negative on the commission’s ideas highlighting global crime and adamant against its suggestion that the DCI should have a role in appointing the FBI’s assistant director for national security affairs, pointing to a need to maintain “the traditional separation (grounded in both law and policy) between the management of our two communities.”
On budget matters, Deutch noted that the commission had leaned toward a program and budget system that stressed the INTs, while he preferred a system that he had been using with DOD emphasizing the role of intelligence consumers in deciding resource allocations. He indicated he could live with congressional insistence on publicizing annual intelligence spending, but he argued it should be only a final single “bottom line” figure of the total appropriated. All in all, he pointed out, new legislation should be contemplated only for establishing NIMA and the new DDCIs, plus possibly personnel reform and the budget disclosure. The rest could be accomplished by executive order or by other actions at lower levels of authority than the president’s.
In taking this tack, Deutch sought a practical middle path among a wide range of possibilities for change. He had proved willing to listen to congressional complaints about various intelligence issues and consider reforms where appropriate. For example, he had instituted a new policy about using human sources with questionable reputations and investigated allegations of CIA involvement in the importation of “crack” cocaine into the United States. But on broader organizational community matters, he was more inclined to accomplish the major NIMA change and stick with close cooperation with DOD than to embrace more far-reaching new ideas that would have entailed additional internal turmoil. His strategy gained acceptance although it did not end attempts to devise additional improvements of the nation’s intelligence structure. Several senators, for example, pushed for the appointment of three “assistant” DCIs for administration, collection, and analysis and production, an idea that persisted and came to fruition soon after Deutch departed.
Deutch also served as a member of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, chaired by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). Although it did not focus on intelligence per se, this commission did address issues of classification and declassification of government information and other issues of importance to the DCI institutionally. Deutch was in favor of reducing the amount of classified material as a general goal, and he ordered declassification of information from formerly sensitive programs of high historical interest (e.g., Venona). At the same time, he defended the DCI’s role in protecting intelligence sources and methods and the executive branch’s role in shaping policies on issues such as encryption, vetting of personnel, etc.
Working with Defense on Programs and Budgets
In his confirmation hearings, Deutch said that he thought a DCI could be a more effective manager of the Intelligence Community if he had more budget execution authority over segments of the intelligence program in addition to those at CIA. When pressed, however, he fell back, saying that he simply hoped to work more closely with department heads on NFIP issues. He went on to note two areas other than budget execution where DCI authorities might ideally be strengthened: authority to evaluate and appoint NFIP program managers, and authority—subject to approval by OMB and Congress—to transfer funds and personnel among NFIP programs. Again, however, he pulled back from actually seeking such expanded powers: “My experience as DepSecDef taught me that strong arguments exist against each of these options, and so I do not advocate any of them at present.” Instead, he said he would devote staff effort to studying them and present recommendations later if he felt that would be useful.
Deutch continued the pattern he and Woolsey had set in emphasizing practical cooperation between the DCI and senior DOD officials on program and budget matters (his detailed familiarity with current DOD programs gave him a unique advantage compared with past DCIs). The new JMIP solidified its place in the array of principal intelligence programs, and the new Defense Intelligence Executive Board continued to welcome the DCI as a member and participant. Deutch and Deputy Secretary of Defense John White co-chaired an Expanded Defense Resources Board that reviewed major intelligence program items and recommended future budgets for them. Secretary of Defense Perry codified this prominent DCI role in a memorandum that made it clear that, in addition to the DCI co-chairing meetings involving review of major intelligence issues: “Decisions affecting NFIP resources will be taken in coordination with the DCI.” Deutch relied on Keith Hall, his community affairs staff chief, for support in these matters, and together the two DOD veterans worked on all major program issues from strengthening NRO financial management in the wake of the NRO building affair to defining optimal future space architectures for intelligence.
Regarding outer space, DOD had been working on how best to organize to manage defense responsibilities in this arena. Acting DCI Studeman had been concerned that the DCI have adequate visibility into, and an appropriate role in, whatever DOD did so that intelligence equities could be adequately protected. Before becoming DCI, Deutch had indicated a general satisfaction with the National Reconnaissance Review Board as he understood it, but acknowledged that intelligence needed to be represented on any high-level overall space management forum. Indeed, by the end of 1995, DDCI Tenet was co-chairing a new Joint Space Management Board and taking part in the first meeting of its executive committee.
In 1996, however, Deutch found himself defending the DCI’s role against DOD recommendations to the White House on outer space policy. In May 1996, he had to intervene in the drafting of a revised national space policy to object to a DOD effort to give the secretary of defense authority to classify and declassify information about space activities in a way that removed the DCI’s authority in this area. In June 1996, he felt that remaining outstanding differences with DOD were important enough to write to the vice president to press his case regarding that issue and the broader issue of the DCI’s role in peacetime space activities. He continued to work with the deputy secretary of defense on these issues as well, but clearly he felt it necessary to alert the White House to the continuing differences in order to avert any misunderstanding or presidential decision before his case was fully aired. This episode indicated that even though he had a close working relationship with the top level of DOD, Deutch still had to go outside bilateral channels on occasion to defend his turf as DCI.
For the most part, the State Department’s role within the Intelligence Community is quite limited, and thus the DCI has no cause to pay much attention to the department’s relatively small Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) as he considers broad community issues revolving around resources. In the mid-1990s, however, several factors conspired to bring INR into a more active role as a community component demanding the DCI’s attention on occasion. For one thing, Deutch worked very cooperatively with Secretary of State Warren Christopher and with his deputy, Strobe Talbott, who was also a close friend. Also, INR’s head in the first Clinton administration, Toby Gati, had an assistant who had served on the SSCI staff who was quite aware of community equities, process, and organizations and able to suggest ways INR could increase its influence. Finally, the increased attention to strengthening the DCI’s ties to DOD threatened to sideline the State Department even more than usual, thus raising apprehensions and inducing a greater activism on her part.
Within days of Deutch’s taking office as DCI, Gati sent him a note thanking him for agreeing to an early meeting with her and others and promising that Secretary of State Warren Christopher would help open their discussion. She indicated in the letter that she saw a number of “overlapping interests” between her department and the Intelligence Community worth noting, and she asserted that where the interests of the two did not overlap, it was best “to lay out the differences clearly.”
She attached to her letter a seven-page paper entitled “The State Department’s Intelligence Agenda.” In it, she expressed concern that post-Cold War priorities in national security affairs—economic security, terrorism and drugs, military deployments to crisis areas—had shifted intelligence attention away from supporting policy formulation and diplomacy and toward supporting law enforcement efforts, military operations, and other activities. “These new priorities,” the paper argued, “pose new challenges for the intelligence community’s support of the Department’s diplomatic efforts.” Unfortunately, the paper went on, the tools of diplomacy had atrophied, and other organizations, preeminently DOD, had taken on some foreign policy tasks. The paper rued the decline in diplomatic reporting and complained that the Intelligence Community now “tasked” embassies for diplomatic reporting.
Among the key issues for the Department of State in its relationship with the Intelligence Community, the paper noted, was “the strengthening of the defense-intelligence axis in intelligence planning.” This development, it argued, “threatens to marginalize US capabilities for collection of peacetime diplomatic needs.” If intelligence planning did not take into account its demands that the State Department maintain or enlarge diplomatic facilities abroad, then funding for diplomacy would be even more stretched. INR under Gati thus moved from its traditional primary interest in substantive intelligence judgments to one of wanting to play more actively at the table where money matters were discussed and decided. This trend had in fact begun early in the Clinton administration, but Gati may have felt that she could make more progress with Deutch in light of Deutch’s excellent relationships with Christopher and Talbott.
In writing to Deutch, Gati commented that “no one thinks of ‘diplomatic readiness’ as they do about defense readiness.” She was determined to overcome this problem by pushing the notion that “support to diplomatic operations” become a twin objective with the much more discussed intelligence objective of supplying “support to military operations.” She had seen that such sloganeering helped justify decisions about resources, and she wanted to strengthen the community’s awareness of the State Department’s needs to make up for years, even decades, of inattention. The paper attached to the letter complained that “State has no effective role in the intelligence community’s budget building and planning process.” In the end, the paper argued, the DCI could well become the department’s ally in seeking more resources as he realizes more fully the dependence of intelligence on the department’s infrastructure and support. The State Department, in turn, could help define intelligence requirements that would help CIA justify its mission in the post-Cold War period.
As noted earlier, Deutch entertained the notion of appointing a high-level “associate DCI for international support” akin to VAdm. Blair’s position. In the end, this was not done, partly because the right person could not be identified, but the impulse demonstrates the attractiveness of such steps as a way for DCIs to deal with the increasingly complex set of executive branch relationships that emerged in the 1990s.
DCI Role within Executive Branch
DCIs Casey and Webster had wrestled in the 1980s with finding the right path for intelligence to take in supporting US policies on transnational issues such as narcotics and terrorism, often involving meshing intelligence with law enforcement, military, or diplomatic activities. Forming DCI centers gave DCIs a mechanism for leading and coordinating efforts on these issues. But in their policy support roles, DCIs had to deal beyond the community with cabinet-level officials in sorting out the increasingly complex interface between national intelligence and major departments and agencies within the executive branch. In the 1990s, DCIs found themselves frequently negotiating over competing missions and authorities and searching for modes of cooperation to meet the challenge of shaping the proper role for intelligence in serving post-Cold War national policies. In this task, they worked bilaterally with the top echelons of policy departments and multilaterally in NSC-based forums, always speaking on behalf of the community they headed as well as on behalf of CIA.
In the case of the administration’s anti-drug effort, Deutch coordinated issues with DOJ and the FBI, but also did not hesitate to take his case to the White House when he thought it necessary. Early in his tenure he wrote to the vice president arguing that covert actions in support of the war on drugs should be carried out by CIA, not by any new arrangement or authority. Also, he asserted the “impression” that some agencies were using the anti-drug campaign “as an opportunity to grab resources from the intelligence budgets of the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.” It was helpful to his case that he had better personal working relationships with the White House than his predecessor.
Deutch recognized the growing importance of intelligence support to law enforcement. He rued the “historical divisions” between the two communities and their “unfortunate tradition of bureaucratic rivalry” as obstacles to the need for greater cooperation. He argued, however, for intelligence to improve its performance overseas rather than for beefing up the law enforcement presence abroad. “Good spies make bad cops,” he once said, and “good cops make bad spies.” Deutch emphasized defining properly the division of labor involving foreign intelligence activities, not the expansion of the role of foreign intelligence in strengthening domestic security (the latter, of course, came in for intense attention after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States).
On another issue related to countering terrorism, ensuring the security of the nation’s critical infrastructures, Deutch in 1996 wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno about his disagreement with the recommendation of a committee she chaired. Her panel, he judged, had not accorded the Intelligence Community a senior enough decisionmaking role. He had pushed for using the Security Policy Board that he co-chaired as a key review mechanism, whereas her committee’s recommendation bypassed that board and thus downgraded the role he might play. He stated his objection forthrightly and let the attorney general know in advance the position he would take at future White House principals’ meetings. This readiness to play at the cabinet level may have been strengthened by his own cabinet status, but probably any DCI would have appealed such an issue if he thought it important to his own key equities.
Regarding “information warfare,” another issue that cut across organizational and authority boundaries, Deutch was active in working out appropriate roles for intelligence. In light of his DOD background and his expertise and interest in information technologies, he was perhaps a uniquely qualified DCI for senior officers, such as the head of NSA, to deal with on the subject. “What is happening in information,” Deutch told a Congressional audience, “is key to many of the most central efforts of the intelligence community.” He seemed aware that the issue touched on ancient rights and powers of the DCI to coordinate services of common concern in the community, and he acted to ensure it was not viewed as the exclusive domain of DOD.
Deutch had clearly carried to a higher level the trend—started by Gates and continued by Woolsey—of close DCI cooperation with senior DOD officials and of working to improve the support rendered by national intelligence to US military customers. His clear-cut interest in, and attention to, community-wide matters had highlighted the community leadership role of the DCI. His close association with DOD, however, added to concerns by some observers that the influence of the department had become too strong within the community.
Deutch was an experienced manager of large institutions and understood that hard work at all levels was needed to effect real change. In 1995, he tried to inoculate himself from at least some criticism by telling a press group that although Washington pundits liked leaders who managed “by explosion” and blamed leaders for “not moving fast enough” if radical steps were not evident, he would not follow that course in working change in intelligence. True change required working with “lots of different interested parties and groups,” he lectured the news professionals; “it requires methodical, managerial work, and therefore, the change is going to be somewhat gradual, and it’s not going to be progress by explosion.”
He indeed did hold to that course during his tenure, and his recognition of the need for thorough and continual attentiveness to major initiatives stands out as a notable explicit recognition by a DCI of the key role of both senior and middle-level managers. His effectiveness, however, was limited by the institutions he headed and the problems he faced. A DI-DO partnership program within CIA, for example, made little additional progress while he was DCI. His major organizational innovations, however, had more lasting effect. The imagery agency he fathered is today’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the senior military position he set up at CIA continued for at least 10 years to foster meaningful CIA cooperation with the military commands and services. Within CIA, his granting of increased powers to the executive director to integrate the agency was carried further by his successor.
Deutch had been concerned from the outset of his tenure about the limitations of what he could achieve. After four months on the job, he had written to a friend: “I am not so sure that the business of intelligence is [at] all manageable in today’s climate….” He had, after all, to deal in his initial months with unpleasant tasks related to charges of CIA involvement in killings in Guatemala, French unhappiness over CIA operations gone awry in Paris, and the continuing aftermath of the Ames case. In these cases, he had had to make decisions regarding firings and reprimands, hardly a good way to start out as chief of an institution. It was also reminiscent of the experience suffered in 1973 by DCI Schlesinger, who, like Deutch, was especially well qualified by background to lead the Intelligence Community in adopting changes aimed at improvement, but whose attention was deflected by the necessity of addressing public controversy about problematic CIA activities.
After President Clinton’s re-election, Deutch resigned as DCI in December 1996, leaving the administration once again in the position of having to fill the top intelligence job. That task took the next seven months to accomplish and brought to office the fifth person to serve as DCI during the 1990s.