Damage Control

A few random stories that I'm too lazy to look at really in depth:

Intelligence policies shift - Pentagon spy chief rolling back some of Rumsfeld's strategies

As previously noted
, the new Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI), Jim Clapper, is trying to undo some of the damage done by Rumsfeld and his number two, Stephen Cambone. Now this is expanding beyond merely undoing policies (like TALON) and moving towards a greater cooperation with the rest of the Intelligence Community.
Retired Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. is aligning the Pentagon's intelligence initiatives with those of the director of national intelligence, John M. McConnell, and will begin to count McConnell as his boss - a significant shift from the autonomy the office enjoyed under Rumsfeld.
Hopefully the end result will be a greater unity of effort. Michael Tanji:
USDI was more oversight/coord than command element. This "fixes" that.
However it seems to me that, since this is a "memorandum of understanding" rather than any substantive change (which I think would require an Executive Order), it could be ended at any time by the USDI, whether Clapper or someone in the future.


Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush

Bureaucratic infighting in the White House - Cheney versus everyone else.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice's efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel...
This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument. The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

When people call Cheney and Bush "warmongers," it sounds very cliche and trite, but really John Oliver is correct: the Vice President does "mong a good war. Who knows where he'll mong next?!"


Finally, Al Gore has a good essay on the wastage of our moral authority. This is related to Wes Clark's recent speech that I mentioned earlier.

Revs drop a bad one

Last Saturday, Eddie Johnson owned the Revolution. End of story.

And just to make sure that nobody misses the worst free kick in the history of professional soccer, taken by Khano Smith:

What I'm reading

I have been tagged by the mysterious author(s) of Kent's Imperative in a meme started by Coming Anarchy on what people are currently reading. Since, unlike Younghusband, I dislike reading multiple books at a time (unless forced to by classes and poor planning), I am only reading one book currently:

The Shield of Achilles, by Phillip Bobbitt

I am so far unconvinced of his thesis - that the nation-state will be replaced by entrepreneurial, managerial, or mercantilist market-states. His thesis is certainly helped by the fact that he defines "market-state" (a state that gains legitimacy by maximizing the choices of its citizens) so broadly that, whatever happens in the next 50 years, someone will be able to argue that Bobbitt was right. Then again, having read 300 pages, he still has 500 more pages to convince me that he's right.

It was recently my birthday, and I got a lot of books which I plan on reading now that it's the summer and I'll have the time to read non-assigned books. My reading list for the summer is basically:

Target Tokyo, by Gordon W. Prange

The Red Orchestra, by V. E. Tarrant

Brave New War, by John Robb

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, by John Nagl (he was impressive in person, so I have high hopes for his book)

I also have a bunch of books sitting on my bookshelf that for whatever reason I haven't got to yet:

Supplying War, by Martin Van Creveld

The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence, by Keith Payne

Just and Unjust Wars, by Michael Walzer (if you are Professor Moore, stumbling across this blog, then of course I am RE-reading this book)

The Authoritarians, by Bob Altemeyer (available free on the web at that link)

I doubt I'll get through all those this summer, but that's the goal.

I'll tag Catholicgauze, the recently engaged TDAXP, and the Armchair Generalist to see their lists.

The media's role

So, ABC "broke" the story that the US is engaged in covert activity designed to topple the Iranian government. There's no actual new information other than the confirmation of what everybody has assumed - that we had a presidential finding directing the covert part of our official policy of trying to change the Iranian regime. The only thing this story does is help the Iranian government portray itself as a victim of American aggression (which it is, but American intelligence officers shouldn't be helping Iran by stupid leaks).
Other people are blaming ABC and Brian Ross (like here, here and here). I don't blame the media. Their job is not to act as another arm of American power through self-censorship or repeating the official line (although in general that is exactly what they do). To me, this story is an example of ABC trying to get a leg up on its competitors by getting a "scoop" however they can. ABC is simply another corporation trying to enhance its product.

Ironic that Blizzard Entertainment can keep a secret better than the U.S. government.

Wes Clark gives a speech

Wes Clark argues that American foreign policy should be reoriented towards restoring American legitimacy. Read the whole thing. Key paragraphs:
I know there's a few thousand or maybe a few tens of thousands of people out there who are impervious to logic, reason and any moral communication, but there are hundreds of millions, billions out there who watch the United States. They observe our actions in the world. They hear our rhetoric. They're not committed enemies, but they're not necessarily our friends yet. And if we want to succeed in the world, we've got to win over these people, at least to the legitimacy of our aims and purposes.
There are a few thousand people out there that we can't reason with. We know that. but the way we win is to cut them off from the hundreds of thousands or millions of potential recruits who judge America by the legitimacy of our actions and who take their humiliation and anger and frustration and powerlessness and weigh it against America and find a cause that suits their personal psychological needs. We need to remove our actions as a justification for their allegiance to Al Qaeda.
Compare this to Giuliani's comments just after the Republican debates:

Look, it's real simple what happened. These people came here and killed us because of our freedom of religion, because of our freedom for women, because they hate us.

The Daddy Party wants you to stop paying attention to government and let them take care of everything. The Daddy Party's base approves, as you can see by Giuliani's little fit bringing the longest applause of that night. Just shut up and go shopping.

Back to Wes Clark:

How do we regain our legitimacy?
Well, there are three elements here. First, we have to change some of what we're doing abroad. Second, we have to change some of our laws and policies at home. And third, we've got to make some inquiries and serve justice about past conduct.

Just go read the whole thing.

Weather Intelligence

Apparently there is actually an abbreviation for weather intelligence - "Wx."

One of the things I love about blogging is the level playing field. I get to engage life-long professionals in politics and national security as, if not equals, at least something like possible-future-equals. I get a bit of a thrill when an established blogger notices me (the weakness of the human ego). One example of this that is the first-ever comment on my blog (which is still quite young) was from Nicholas Gvosdev, the editor of the National Interest. More recently, the intelligence blog "Kent's Imperative" (a riff on Kant's Imperative and Sherman Kent) noticed my post on the National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change. Woo, validation! Kent's Imperative categorizes the climate change NIE as weather intelligence.

Probably the most fascinating example of weather intelligence is during the Normandy landings. The weather patterns in the Atlantic and Western Europe were generally unfavorable to landings, because the Allies needed the light of the full moon as well as clear skies in order for their aircraft to find their drop zones, as well as for the tide to be at its highest possible point. This confluence was rare. The weather patterns in that region meant that weather moved from the Atlantic eastwards to France. Allied domination of the seas meant that they would have advance warning of the weather, compared to the Germans who didn't know what was beyond the horizon from the French coastline.

The days before the June landings were cloudy and unfavorable for an amphibious assault in France. The Germans assumed that this weather would continue for the next several days, and thus the Germans assumed that the Allies would be unable to attack for several days and lowered their readiness. Rommel took the occasion to visit his wife in Germany for her birthday, and many division commanders, etc were also away. The Allies, however, knew that there was a gap in the clouds that would arrive on June 6, and thus they executed their attack on June 6. The Allies' superiority in Wx gave them a direct decision advantage over the Germans that they were able to leverage by achieving total surprise (or as close as they could have achieved in the broader picture).

It seems to me that weather intelligence is not easily classified into HUMINT, GEOINT, MASINT, OSINT, or any of the other stovepipes. If Wx was collected by individuals on the ground ("Brr I'm cold"), it would be HUMINT. If Wx was collected via satellite, it might be GEOINT, if it was collected by measuring barometric pressure, it might be MASINT, or if it was collected by reading the newspaper's weather forecasts, it would be open source intelligence. Given these requirements, as well as that Wx would only really be useful to a limited set of consumers (soldiers on the ground, pilots, or people trying to predict environmental disasters) Wx must be a massive headache to manage. The IC apparently decided it would fit in the Air Force, in the Air Force Weather Agency, although that agency is only ten years old.

That's another great thing about blogs (and the interblag in general) - it can get me off on tangents, and I end up learning by accident.

50 great goals

50 great goals, complied by some random guy on the internet. Number one is, of course, Maradona's second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.

English Premier League

The English Premier League 2006/07 season is over. Manchester United took the title from Chelsea, who were unable to win it three times in a row. Also, Clint Dempsey, formerly of the Revolution, kept his team Fulham FC in the Premiership by scoring the only goal of the game against Liverpool for a 1-0 win (Fulham avoided the drop by two points, so without the three points from Dempsey's goal, they'd be going down to the lower division). Man U and Chelsea also square off in the FA Cup final, this Saturday.

Here are ten of the best goals from the season:

An NIE on climate change?

Recently Congress (including my Representative, Ed Markey) has directed the Intelligence Community (IC) to write up a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on global climate change. Michael Tanji, at Haft of the Spear, thinks this is a dumb idea for the following reasons:
First, if you trust the science the IPCC has already provided everyone with a comprehensive study of what climate change is doing to the planet. This is wheel reinvention.

Secondly, in 30 years the world’s oceans are supposed to rise what, an inch? Six? Sub-Saharan Africa gets two degrees hotter? Ten? The timeframe is too short to make effective strategic assessments (had there been an NIE from the 70s when we thought the planet was freezing that would be a nice lesson-learned to use).

Third, even if it ends up being the world’s best friggin’ study on climate change, totally free of bias and objective to a fault, someone isn’t going to like it, they’ll leak it, and it’ll become a political football that renders effective decision-making impossible.

Fourth, of all the tools of statecraft one could employ to address climate change, intel is the least effective of them all. Where is Commerce? Justice? Agriculture? HHS? HUD? These are the elements that should be working up plans to be employed (or not) by potential expeditionary forces (a’la Barnett’s Dept. of Everything Else).

Finally, we already have studies on every country, every political party, every sub-state group, every key individual in the world; we are better off injecting the impact of climate change into standing scenarios to determine how people will react/decisions will be made/events that will be spawned.
I disagree with Michael - I think an NIE on climate change is overdue. I'll answer his concerns point by point.

1) His first concern, that the IC would be re-issuing the IPCC report, is off-base because, as the text of the law says, the NIE will focus not on climate change itself, but on the geopolitical effects of climate change. The IC will prepare the NIE "using the mid-range projections of the fourth assessment report of the [IPCC]." This wouldn't be reinventing the wheel, it'd be building on it (if that metaphor makes any sense).

2) While certainly climate change exists over a period longer than thirty years, I don't think it's really plausible to try to plan more than thirty years ahead. In the last thirty years, we had five different presidents and ten different Directors of National Intelligence (counting the DCI as a DNI before the latter position existed). Given the lack of continuity in our government, plus the difficulty of predicting the different ways climate change could pan out in the future, I'd say even thirty years is optimistic.

3) All NIEs on politically sensitive issues have the potential to become political footballs, such as the NIE on Iraq's WMD programs. This is inevitable, but in my opinion shouldn't be a reason against doing the NIE in the first place.

4) An NIE really isn't a tool of statecraft the way I see it. The NIE should instead help Congress improve it's decisions when it comes to issues relating to climate change, as well as helping other departments, such as Commerce, Agriculture, etc., achieve "decision advantage"* over their competitors abroad.

5) I agree that issues like climate change need to be considered as part of country studies, etc., but when Congress is drafting legislation on climate change, they don't want to go through every single report the IC has to find the relevant bits on climate change - they want it all in one document.

All in all, I guess I really don't see anything wrong with the IC helping the President and Congress make better decisions when it comes to foreign policy even if those decisions aren't directed against other states or hostile organizations. Some will always say that climate change issues aren't the IC's "core competencies", but that ignores two things - a) in a constantly changing world, the IC's core competency (as far as analysis goes) should be learning rather than specific technical or analytical areas of expertise, and b) when the world changes, the IC needs to keep up; when one of the biggest threats to peace and security might be climate change, the IC needs to develop expertise in that area rather than hyping Chinese fighters 30 years behind our own.

* "Decision advantage" comes from this idea:
"‘Intelligence’ is best understood as the collection, analysis and dissemination of information by parties in conflict or competition. What turns the simple pursuit of information into the business of intelligence is its purpose: gaining competitive advantage over adversaries. This goal fuels the desire for specific, urgent and often secret knowledge as well as a systematic way of obtaining it in time to win the contest. Given that the context is competition, such ‘decision advantages’ can be acquired in two ways: by getting better information for one’s strategy than one’s opponents gain for theirs, or by degrading the competitors’ decision-making through denial, disruption, deception, or surprise." Jennifer Sims. "Intelligence to counter terror: The importance of
all-source fusion

Trackback to Haft of the Spear.

Revs beat Galaxy 3-2

Due to technical difficulties with the MLS website, I was unable to watch this game live. Here are the highlights:

Treat intelligence analysts like soccer stars!

From The Spy Gap, in Government Executive Magazine:
Today's competitive job market is defined not by the institution, but by the free agent. The federal intelligence community has become a place where the millennials learn spying tradecraft, obtain a coveted top-level security clearance and then bolt to contractors for heftier paychecks. This has become so common that intelligence observers now fear it could become the career path of choice - break into the private sector via the government.
There's a similar problem for many clubs in soccer. Unless you are Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, Milan or a handful of other clubs, your players would likely jump at the chance to be picked up by a bigger club. The solution has been to sign players to longer contracts - for example, MLS's policy is to sign players picked up through the draft to four year contracts. While this can lead to some unhappiness when college players making $13,000 turn out to be good enough so that they're keeping senior players paid $150,000 on the bench, it means that European teams aren't waiting for MLS to discover college players and then snapping them up as soon as they figure out which ones are decent. The idea is that after the player has only a year left on his contract, he'll either be sold to a bigger club in Europe, or he'll have the leverage to negotiate for a higher salary.

Could this work in the Intelligence Community? Maybe. Think of MLS as the Intelligenc Community, and "big clubs in Europe" as the beltway bandits.

Already agencies in the IC give out scholarships to students in exchange for a pledge to work a certain number of years for that agency. Why couldn't they do the same thing for the security clearance process and training? i.e., the CIA could say "if you get a security clearance, you have to work for us for five years."

This wouldn't solve the larger problem of poor management, especially at agencies like the DIA, that leads to the loss of much more experienced personnel (I'm taking Larry Johnson's word on this), and it wouldn't the problem of a lack of middle-aged analysts that the GovExec article talksa bout. But a lot of my friends are aiming to get internships and jobs not with the CIA, DIA, NSA or other agencies, but with contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton. Internships at the CIA and State Department are unpaid, whereas the internship with Booz Allen pays between $23 and $26 per hour. We'd be a lot less valuable to beltway bandits if we didn't have security clearances that we got from internships and short job stints with actual government agencies, and the IC would be better off if it was able to get the guaranteed benefit of, say, five years of work after giving us security clearances and training.

Or they could, ya know, pay people in the Intelligence Community competitive wages.

Tip o' the hat to Wired's blog "Danger Room."

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson came out with two new ads recently. Here they are:

Richardson apparently has a real sense of humor. Here's an ad from his 2006 reelection campaign for Governor of New Mexico (he won in a landslide):

Right now, I'd say that if Wes Clark doesn't enter the race (as is looking more and more likely with each passing day), then Richardson has my vote.

New era in politics

Ed Markey posts the first ever Youtube video filmed from the perspective of the chairman of a Congressional Committee.

Congress not told of covert action. Why?

Steven Aftergood has a post up at Secrecy News. Apparently, the U.S. intelligence community recently did a covert action without informing Congress, as they are legally mandated to do:
"The Committee was dismayed at a recent incident wherein the Intelligence Community failed to inform the Congress of a significant covert action activity. This failure to notify Congress constitutes a violation of the National Security Act of 1947."
"Despite agency explanations that the failure was inadvertent, the Committee is deeply troubled over the fact that such an oversight could occur, whether intentionally or inadvertently."
"The Committee firmly believes that scrupulous transparency between the Intelligence Community and this Committee is an absolute necessity on matters related to covert action."
At first glance it seems like this is fairly straightforward. The Intelligence Community (IC) did a covert action, they are legally required to inform Congress, and they didn't. However if you look at the text of the law that requires them to inform Congress it gets a little trickier, because Congress created some exceptions.

The National Security Act of 1947 says:
(c)(1) The President shall ensure that any [covert action] shall be reported to the congressional intelligence committees as soon as possible after such approval and before the initiation of the covert action authorized by the finding, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) and paragraph (3).
Paragraphs 2 and 3 that they refer to say that in extraordinary circumstances, the President can decide to only inform the chairmen and minority leaders of the intelligence committees and of Congress, and if the President doesn't inform Congress of a covert action ahead of time, he better get on his horse and tell them as soon as possible and explain why he didn't tell him sooner.

The tricky part comes in the definition of "covert action." Here's the definition the law uses (emphasis added):
(e) As used in this title, the term "covert action" means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly, but does not include -

(1) activities the primary purpose of which is to acquire intelligence, traditional counterintelligence activities, traditional activities to improve or maintain the operational security of United States Government programs, or administrative activities;

(2) traditional diplomatic or military activities or routine support to such activities;

(3) traditional law enforcement activities conducted by United States Government law enforcement agencies or routine support to such activities; or

(4) activities to provide routine support to the overt activities (other than activities described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3)) of other United States Government agencies abroad.
This means that if, say, the CIA undertakes what would normally be considered a covert action, for example, influencing a parliamentary election in a foreign country, but justifies doing so on the basis of improving diplomatic relations with the head of that country (this scenario happened in Nepal in the 1950s, as recalled by Duane Clarridge), the CIA could argue that they don't need to inform Congress because it does not fall under the definition of "covert action" due to its diplomatic motives. Whether they'd be correct or not would depend on your definition of "traditional diplomatic activities." If the CIA were to justify what would otherwise be covert action on the basis of counterintelligence activities it could get even more difficult to disagree with them because counterintelligence activities can be very wide-ranging, and counterintelligence should ideally permeate every aspect of intelligence activity.

I imagine that Congress added the escape clause for intelligence agencies for two reasons. First, they didn't want to be bombarded with notifications of what ambassador is spreading nasty rumors or other such trivialities. Second, because the Act was written in the context of the Cold War, activities such as counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics weren't very important - the target of the Intelligence Community was the Soviet Union. In contrast, now those activities are two of the core functions of the IC, and can also be justified as law enforcement actions, hiding them from Congress. This means Congress can be kept in the dark about a much larger portion of the IC's actions.

Perhaps it is time to amend that chunk of the National Security Act?

What I'm reading

With finals basically done, I can actually read stuff that I'm not forced to. However, this list is just as much to remind myself to read this stuff as it is for my audience of five readers...

What if Bin Laden Were Smart, Like Dr. No or Ernest Blofeld? by Fabius Maximus.

Kremlinology & the Censored DNI Outsourcing Study, by R. J. Hillhouse.

How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran, by Joshuah Bearman in Wired.

'People in the White House are talking only to each other,' by Steve Benen.

Fourth Generation Warfare Evolves, Fifth Emerges, by T. X. Hammes.

Fire the Generals! by Douglas MacGregor.

A good soccer day

Chelsea vs. Arsenal:
A bit of a grudge match, as they are city rivals and tend to knock each other out of competitions (like the Carling Cup this season, in which there was a big fight at the end). However this was simply a fantastic game. Chelsea needed to win to maintain any hope of winning the Premiership title, but in reality they had lost the title a couple weeks earlier, so I was able to just enjoy the game and root for a Chelsea win just because. The way it played out, I feel it was a moral victory to Chelsea in the end, as they were pressing to get the winning goal despite being a man down (Khalid Bouhlarouz made an absolutely boneheaded tackle to get red-carded and give Arsenal a penalty just before halftime).

Then, later today, the New England Revolution hosted the Chicago Fire. The Revolution were missing Shalrie Joseph, suspended as part of a bogus red card sustained Thursday during their game at DC United (a 1 - 1 tie).

The Revs won, 3-1. Chris Rolfe of the Fire scored a good goal from the edge of the area. The Revolution got the first goal of the season from my Man of the Match, Jeff Larentowicz (Brown class of 2004), the first goal of the season from Steve Ralston, and the first goal of the season from rookie Wells Thompson. Nice to see someone other than Taylor Twellman or Andy Dorman score for the Revs. I'll update with highlights when they come online.


Here are the Revs highlights: