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The National Intelligence Daily

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The NID

A Suggestion From 1952
The departure from a conventional presentation of intelligence may have appeared abrupt, but the concept was well aged. William E. Colby had suggested it to the late Allen Dulles in 1952, while Mr. Dulles was in the tub in Stockholm, but the idea went down the drain with the bath water. In 1966, Mr. Colby raised the idea again. The Office of Current Intelligence prepared a mock-up of intelligence in newspaper form, but informed him that the difficulties involved were too great to justify further work on the project. In the summer of 1973, after his appointment as DCI, Mr. Colby once more asked whether OCI could produce a newspaper. On that occasion, he reached into a drawer and pulled out a document he had saved for seven years, the mock-up of intelligence in newspaper form that just about everyone else had long forgotten.
OCI brushed aside jeers, sneers, and cracks about classified ads, crossword puzzles, and funnies, and in July 1973 got down to serious work. The work had to be serious because the problems were indeed immense, and there was considerable doubt as to the wisdom and feasibility of the project. It was clear from the beginning that a newspaper could not be done on the cheap, as just another by-product of OCI's usual activities. It would be a major project, one that would draw in substantial manpower and would necessarily regulate many other activities. The cost would be worthwhile only if it provided a better way of informing OCI's primary audience, the officers of government who make up the National Security Council, its subcommittees, and their senior staffs. Most important, OCI was not confident that an intellectually respectable product could be produced in this format, and was uncertain whether that product would be recognized and accepted as such by the readers for whom it was intended. OCI had to break new ground; a successful intelligence newspaper would have to meld the professional and technical standards of the newspaperman with those of the intelligence officer.
Questions of Function and Efficiency
The problems loomed as hard questions to answer. For example:
--A newspaper is a medium of mass communication, but sensitive intelligence must circulate only among a few subscribers. Why build a sledge hammer to pound tacks?
--Even a mere four-page tabloid would give consumers three times their usual intelligence fare. Would they accept that much? And could the producers suddenly triple the output of what normally goes into a generalized intelligence publication? As quantity rose, would quality fall?
--National intelligence involves coordination, which takes time. A newspaper operation requires speed. Could the intelligence community compress the coordination of more material into less time?
--The number of pages in a booklet can go up or down in accord with the ups and downs in daily intelligence production. A four-page newspaper would offer the same amount of space, for 7,000 words, day in and day out. Could the editors of a newspaper reconcile uneven production with steady consumption?
--The consumers of an intelligence newspaper would have habits and attitudes that are not easily changed. They might tend to think that any newspaper takes a casual rather than a responsible approach and offers
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:46 AM
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2011 02:28 PM