Books Monographs

Intelligence for a New Era in American Foreign Policy: Conference Report

Report of 10–11 September 2003 Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia

Published in January 2004

Introduction

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and on government facilities in Washington, DC, irreversibly altered the  foundations of US national security policy. It also reshaped the imperatives  that drive the work of the US Intelligence Community. On the eve of the  second anniversary of that attack, the Center for the Study of Intelligence  (CSI) assembled a group of approximately 85 experts at a conference in  Charlottesville, Virginia, to think through the implications of this new world  for our profession. CSI sponsorship was in keeping with the Center’s original mandate from DCI James Schlesinger-assemble the best minds and bring them to bear on the most critical challenges to the Agency and to the Intelligence Community.

Within the Community, far-reaching changes were well underway during the decade that preceded the 9/11 attacks. They stemmed from the collapse of  the Soviet Union and the pressures for adaptation to the post-Cold War  environment. As the bipolar confrontation receded and a more fluid, chaotic  world of diverse threats emerged, intelligence programs were refocused and resources were realigned to a new set of priorities. In important respects,  evolutionary and adaptive changes were indeed beginning to create a more flexible, agile, and responsive Intelligence Community. But the tidal wave  generated by the shock of 9/11 soon overtook and broke over the Community in a way that has led many observers to question the adequacy of  evolutionary changes. Existing organizational arrangements, legal  authorities, institutional cultures, business practices, and support architectures are all being reexamined with a new intensity. The importance  of timely intelligence is indisputable, and the consequences of failure are  unthinkable.

The conference opened with a broad-ranging consideration of the evolution  of the international security environment, the changing American role in it,  and the best stratagems for ensuring that intelligence priorities and  guidelines conform to the needs of policymakers. It also examined in detail  the changing intelligence needs of specific user communities and the ability  of intelligence to meet them. Most importantly, it considered possible  procedural and institutional changes that might enhance the capabilities of  the Intelligence Community in this new era.