Talk:Central Intelligence Agency

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 Definition The principal civilian intelligence organization of the United States, specializing in all-source intelligence analysis, clandestine human-source intelligence, and covert action. [d] [e]

1956 Bruce-Lovett Report

The section has minimal value and is not encyclopedic. I propose to delete it. Richard Jensen 06:57, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Now, I'm a new editor, but one of the differences I see between WP and CZ is that more of the author's experience comes through. Certainly, and I'm not objecting to this because it is a useful difference, I see evaluations and judgments of personalities, in historical context, in your work. It is a Good Thing (TM) that, in material clearly coming from your experience and research, you described Mao as willing to bring catastrophe to China, or Omar Bradley as weak and vacillating. WP would demand a secondary source for that.
I see value in the Bruce-Lovett report precisely in the confusion it shows. Now, there is no question that the CIA has done unwise and outright illegal things, although sometimes at the orders of the White House. Gottlieb's work approved in channels strikes me as some of the worst that could be considered rogue, or Casey's actions, clearly in violation of the Boland Amendment, but with his role really that of an individual rather than DCI.
This article had a fairly substantial edit before even coming up; it's definitely not the WP version. As it was, I spent 6 months or so at WP, bringing down the tinfoil-hat quality and looking more inside the Agency, to help people better understand its actual culture, giving a context for evaluating actions.
As you may have noticed, I have another article on Directors of Central Intelligence, which goes less into the individual biographies and more into the role they played in Agency culture. Perhaps a compromise here would be moving not just the Bruce-Lovett report, but the other major reports, into that section, redirecting it into more of an article on cultural and organizational influences on how the Agency developed its operating mode.
The Bruce-Lovett report, I believe, is historically significant because, in a slightly humorous way, it is a vivid example of how informal policy guidance, and internal/external review, could be in the fifties. I freely admit that I wrote with slight tongue in cheek, but in no way changing or inventing facts, or injecting substantive opinion.
I do not think it should be deleted. Now, I will be doing substantial additional editing here, to get out what were a number of WP political compromises with conspiracy theorists. To me, the Bruce-Lovett history is extremely relevant to people assuming a Secret Government cabal, when the reality may have been far more one of tolerance of individuals, and a lack of a review system. What does it say about a Presidential review process when an apparently significant report can't even be found? Howard C. Berkowitz 08:26, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Encyclopedias have to start with the big picture, and leave the minutiae for last. The Bruce Lovett report section is full of tedious detail about trivial matters and yet gets more coverage than the Bay of Pigs or any other episode! There are no serious historical facts in the section that readers need to know. This is a general article about the MAIN EVENTS in CIA history, so let's please start with the main events. I dread the though that some poor student will think the report is somehow important just because it is in CZ. We have a rule that CZ material has to be "edited mercilessly" and in my opinion that means it does not make the cut.Richard Jensen 08:33, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
On "Mao as willing to bring catastrophe to China" that was a main assumption of US intelligence, but it was wrong. Later episodes such as the Great leap forward and the near-nuclear attack by BOTH the US and USSR on China, and the cultural revolution were not available to analysts in 1950-- nor was Mao's quote to the effect that after a nuclear attack there would be hundreds of millions of Chinese left. Richard Jensen 08:36, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
On Bradley as weak and vacillating-- that's pretty standard history: "Both Chairman Omar Bradley and Army Chief of Staff J. Lawton Collins seem weak and unwilling to confront MacArthur," Weintrab assessment; Bradford Lee's refers to "several months of vacillation" Reader's Companion Military History p 276 Richard Jensen 08:48, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Actually, the article was not written to be a timeline of "main events in CIA history". I have no objection to such an article, as long as it is on topic and not going off into theories that neither have sources nor circumstantial evidence.
The title is "Central Intelligence Agency". I wrote it with the intention of understanding an organization. Discussing events get rather tricky, and the Bay of Pigs is an excellent example of that. Of course, the CIA was deeply involved in the Bay of Pigs, but even moving to that invasion site, and not providing the support the JCS had recommended in the Eisenhower Administration, and then cutting the JCS out of the planning loop, came as a result of decisions in the Kennedy White House.
One of the most common problems in CIA articles is they look at the organization in isolation, rather than as part of the U.S. government. Any serious discussion of the Bay of Pigs has to look, at the very least, about the JCS role and non-role, and about the roles of both Presidents and advisors in the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. It has to set the post-Batista activities in the context of the Cold War doctrines then in force. It is very much not a CIA-only story. There should be an article in it, but there should be a mention of CIA relationships, and then a hyperlink to the main Bay of Pigs article.
It is not, incidentally, correct to say there was no mention of the Bay of Pigs. The section on organization of clandestine services, unless text got accidentally deleted, uses the released organizational structure as a basis for project organization, especially a sensitive one like this, which bypassed a good deal of review structure.
In six months of cleaning up CIA articles at WP, one of the things that greatly improved objectivity was revising a then massive, 300K-plus article, into a hierarchy of subtopics. One subset of subtopic articles dealt, in chronological manner, with timelines, on a regional basis. One reason I've been withdrawing from WP is the unilateral action in which regional articles -- which dealt both with regional intelligence estimates and with transborder issues -- had 100 percent of the country specific content taken into country specific articles, losing the bigger picture. The consensus, incidentally, had been to create subarticles, branching from the regional articles, on countries where there was a huge amount of material, such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam.
I cannot stress strongly enough that my experience shows me that CIA, just like U.S. military history, has to be put into a framework of multiple articles to make sense. Monolithic CIA articles, especially that become timelines rather than giving background, tend to collapse into confusion.
If you have concerns about presenting such material, let's discuss the structure of an appropriate set of articles. Retitle this article if you will, but don't try to make it a timeline of activiities. That's not what it was written to be. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:56, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
People come to CZ for highly factual information. The Bruce-Lovett supposed "report" is it ever existed was a historical document from a half-century ago and real or fake it does not deal with the 21st century. No one has a copy, we have only very short snippets (from Schlesinger) and together with the non-professional tone it has the earmarks of a hoax, as multiple archives have found no record that it every existed. That makes for a very poor basis on which to understand the agency. As for multiple articles, yes indeed, but the main CIA article has to cover the main events and structures. So we start from the top and work down, and mercilessly drop minor, peripheral topics. Maybe they can go elsewhere. The Bruce-Lovell stuff/hoax is not good for anything in CZ, I fear. As for the Bay of Pigs, it certainly needs its own article, and it certainly needs a paragraph or two in this article. The historian does not much use timelines -- that is a teaching device to help kids. You see a lot on Wikipedia, which is written by those kids. but very little at CZ. Our history mould be conceptually much deeper and based on solid scholarship, which is why I keep adding bibliographies. Richard Jensen 09:17, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I must get to some work-related things, but I will elaborate on the reasons on why I believe Bruce-Lovett is appropriate in a discussion of reports in general.
We may have different ideas on what the main events and structures may be. I have no problem in moving all of the external reports to a separate article, where I have more room to elaborate on why the Bruce-Lovett matter is historically significant, as well as other material I did not think fit into the WP article. ...said Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 10:56, 16 May 2008
Without having the time to research this deeply, I did find a couple of US Govt web sites (one for the Center for the Study of Intelligence, whom I think of pretty well), here and here, and while they concede they don't have a copy, they don't talk about it in terms they would use for something that had a good chance of being a hoax. Of course, those documents I linked to are more than 10 years old now, and perhaps opinions have changed in the interim. J. Noel Chiappa 11:27, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I would like to make two suggestions. The first is that you try to find an uninvolved History Editor or Politics Editor to mediate this issue. The second is that you try your best--please--to put aside your idiosyncratic notions of the requirements of encyclopedia articles, and attend to the actual requirements of CZ's encyclopedia articles, especially as articulated in CZ:Neutrality Policy. That policy requires that, if there is a significant portion of CIA experts for whom the alleged report in question has any credibility, we must include information about it. It also requires that, if other experts believe it may not exist, we report their views as well. In general, if the matter is controversial, then CZ presents the various opposed views and does not take a stand itself. If the question is merely whether we should quote a report at length of which many informed people doubt the credibility, I would suggest that we carefully frame the issue as described, and perhaps put the quotations in a footnote. I leave that up to you--I'm just saying that you should try to reach a compromise position. CZ is not the place to fight ideological battles; it is a place for truly fair-minded people simply to characterize other people's ideological battles. (I can dream, can't I?) --Larry Sanger 12:23, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I'm happy to say there is no ideology involved here. It's an issue of reliability regarding a government report that no one has seen (except Schlesinger, who lost his notes). Schelsinger said the report was ignored and had zero impact, so it's going to be hard for someone to claim at had an impact. Eisenhower, for example, never saw it. Bruce, the supposed coauthor, never saved a copy (although he saved all his important papers.) So we have: 1) very low reliability (re was it genuine); 2) low historical importance. That's the formula, in my opinion , for being unencyclopedic. Richard Jensen 12:42, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I just ran across the following (apparently an excerpt from Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and His Times) here:
Almost at once the board appointed a panel, led by Robert Lovett and David Bruce, to take a look at CIA's covert operations. "Bruce was very much disturbed," Lovett told the Cuba board of inquiry in 1961. "He approached it from the standpoint of 'what right have we to go barging into other countries buying newspapers and handing money to opposition parties or supporting a candidate for this, that or the other office?' He felt this was an outrageous interference with friendly countries. . . . He got me alarmed, so instead of completing the report in thirty days we took two months or more."38
____________________
38 Cuba Study Group, May 11, 1961, RFK Papers.
This sure makes it sound like Lovett, in testimony to the "Cuba board of inquiry" (I guess this is a reference to the Cuba Study Group set up under Maxwell Taylor) confirmed the existence of some sort of inquiry by he and Bruce. Moreover, the footnote gives the source of that Lovett quotation. So if that document says what this purports he said, I'd say that this excerpt sure makes it sound like Lovett and Bruce did something of an investigatory nature, which may have produced some document (now labelled the 'Lovett-Bruce Report'). Now, perhaps the "report" he spoke of in this testimony was purely verbal, and it has since been conflated with the paper thing Schlesinger says he saw, but I do consider this testimony (if accurately reported) to be quite important in this issue. J. Noel Chiappa 18:24, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
One of the reasons why I believe it is significant to document such confusion is to illustrate that oversight has, at times, been extremely casual. Simultaneously, I believe it significant to make it clear that the National Security Council, President personally, or one of the many White House/NSC committees (Operations Coordinating Board, Forty Committee, Special Group (Counterinsurgency), 54/12 Committee, Special Group, 303 Committee) do exist, and not all the "rogue CIA" operations were things that were invisible to higher policymakers. This is a challenge, as some interpretation and synthesis are needed, but at a level that I do not believe is inappropriate in context--it's the WP absolutism of no OR/SYNTH clashing with reasonable expert commentary, identified as such. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:47, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
The so-called Bruce-Lovett report proves that Schlesinger--usually a very careful and brilliant historian--sometimes nodded. The records show no report was authorized or made, and no copy exists anywhere; and even Schlesinger concluded it had zero impact. (True enough) (the "report" may have been a hoax or prank or disinformation or perhaps an informal private memo by Bruce or Lovett that Schlesinger thought was an official report, We do have hoaxes in history that sometimes fool historians for a while, like the Hitler diaries.). To interpret this nonexistent report (as Gose does) is an elementary blunder that flunks CZ tests for reliability. Lots of things "might" have happened 50 years ago, but the great majority never happened. (Don't some philosophers have them happening anyway in different worlds?) CZ is wise to stick to those events that did happen. Richard Jensen 19:08, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Can we approach this in a collaborative manner?

It may seem a minor point, but in six months or so of working with this material, I found that a two-column format worked much better for this lengthy a list. You changed it to 1 column. I changed that back.

As far as the books you just put in, frankly, I dislike putting in long lists of books, with no narrative on why they are important, or inline citations to them, in the main article. In point of fact, many of the books you added are cited inline, while others are cited in other CIA articles, not all of which have been brought from WP, or written anew because they clashed with WP politics.

For example, you will find that many of things you put down as "primary sources", such as the directors' autobiographies, are already present in the article, which certainly can be improved, on the impacts of directors.

I do not agree to dumping in large numbers of references, not cited inline, and then moving them as an annotated bibliography at some future and undefined time. What is wrong with putting them in a bibliography now, and adding notes about their significance for those that are not already cited in the article?

I find it quite distracting to have extensive inline citations, and then to duplicate some of the same material in a bibliography, a bibliography that does not contain other sources that are now inline. This confuses the reader.

I want to move that added reading list now to the bibliography section, certainly not keeping it until a source-by-source comparison is made to what is in the inline citations. While I've read many of the books on the list, I haven't read them all, just as I doubt you've read every citation I've used. I don't know why some of these sources are significant, or not. That is the value of having an annotated bibliography rather than a dump into the main article.

As a courtesy, I would ask that you hold off more substantial changes until this evening. While I had hesitated to do so, I will bring over a good deal more material from WP, mostly my edits, that address some of your concerns such as "timeline". The real world intrudes; I have a personally important conference call at 1:30 to 3:30 or so Eastern US time, and I have preparation to do for it. I am happy to work collaboratively on the CIA material, rather than on getting into revert wars, but I can't spend much more time for the next few hours.

I also have sandbox material at WP that should come here, dealing with such matters as CIA and clandestine&covert activity oversight.

I believe it would better illustrate the context for this specific article if I bring over the main sub-articles that work with it. Do note, incidentally, that I have a separate, CIA-agnostic series of articles on the techniques of intelligence. Such things as cognitive traps for intelligence analysis, for example, speak to failures in intelligence analysis. I do have specific additional source material to add to the series on intelligence analysis, but want to think about, and discuss, the right placement for some of the more recent research in analysis of conflicting information. Howard C. Berkowitz 09:24, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

re Bibliography. A serious bibliography is essential if users are going to do work on the CIA--for example write an undergraduate termpaper. I think terms like "dumping" do a disservice when a professional historian evaluates books (by reading the reviews in the scholarly journals) and considers them suitable for a bibliography. I reject 9 out of 10 possible items for every one selected. As for the separate bibliog page, that indeed is where they will go when the project is further along. Meanwhile it's easier to have them here so I can add links --I trust no one is annoyed by their presence. As for annotations, I have annotated some and other folks can please annotate the others. A great feature of amazon and questia is that they give reviews and excerpts that are much more helpful than a one-sentence annotation. As for the two column format for footnotes, that works fine for me. Richard Jensen 10:18, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Actually, I am annoyed by the presence of the large inline bibliographies, as long as they do not correspond to inline citations. Their sheer size is visually distracting. They belong in the bibliography subpage, with only those associated with inline citations in the main article.
May I ask, most courteously, if you would mind if I ripped into the pure formatting and prose, let alone content, of articles of yours, without explanation and discussion? As I understand CZ, the WP bold-revert-discuss model is not desired here. The model is discuss, identify consensus as well as different views that should both be covered, and then edit. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:56, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Huge deletions not justified

Richard, you seem to be deleting huge sections of text without adequate discussion. Just because you personally don't think it fits the article is not sufficient. The author may wish to move it further down the article, trim it up, export it to another article, etc. Using quotes for Schlesinger, regarding this period of history, seems as valid as quoting anyone else from that era. I suggest we need the opinions of additional editors regarding this article. An article for CIA can be very large because it is a very large organization with a storied past, and including interesting tidbits makes articles more enjoyable to read. David E. Volk 09:27, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

After edit conflict
It seems to me that there are a number of inter-related issues here. First, to what extent the article should be an overview of the CIA today, how much of its history should be covered here, whether material on the bureacratic/etc culture should be here, etc. Second, there's this whole issue of the Bruce-Lovett report, whether it's real or not, etc - probably an article in itself, if there's evidence both ways. (I, alas, know more about the counter-intelligence side of things than the intelligence side, so I am unfamiliar with this report.) Third, how to proceed in creating the article (in a process sense).
At this point, I can only suggest that discussion here, before launching into writing text, would probably be of benefit. "The CIA" is a sprawling subject, and even people who know a lot about it may well know only some parts of the elephant, not the whole.
A few specific points:
  • Big bibliographies are good - especially if they are organized and annotated (labour so many works pass over, but which thereby pass up a chance to pass on a great deal of value to beginning researchers). We have a standard /Bibliography subpage as part of the cluster, so let's use it. Listing a few of the very best overview sources at the foot of this page, as Further reading guidance to the beginners, or those who have only a modest level of interest, is always a good move, too.
  • The history of the CIA can only be covered in a cursory way in a the basic CIA article. So it has to be a high-level view, and a relatively brief one. I can see a value to separate histories of the CIA's operations by region, as well as a history of the organization as a bureacratic (in the technical sense) entity.
  • Ditto for the CIA culture; let's give a brief, high-level view here, and have a more detailed article elsewhere if there's enough material to warrant it.
Hope this helps... J. Noel Chiappa 10:15, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
the Bruce-Lovett report does not exist--everyone agrees on that. Furthermore no one at the time ever reported seeing it or acting on it. It and should not be covered in this article because it fails the reliability test-- keeping in mind the CZ warns on every edit page: If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here. The excerpt I deleted is mostly about the nonexistence of the report, and not about the CIA. Richard Jensen 10:09, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
We inherited that exact text from Wikipedia. We should probably change it. J. Noel Chiappa 10:19, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
See my remarks above about bold-revert-discuss as opposed to post-discuss-edit. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:56, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Additional context for the background of this article

Let me give the original hierarchy of sub-articles that this topped, at Wikipedia. Some have been retitled. There were additional subtopics spun off into articles, which I shall mention briefly

The original geographic divisions, arranged by region/country/date or subtopic/date, were:

  • CIA Activities by Region: Americas
  • CIA Activities by Region: Africa (includes subsaharan Africa)
  • CIA Activities by Region: Asia-Pacific:
  • CIA Activities by Region: Near East, North Africa, South and Southwest Asia
  • CIA Activities by Region: Russia and Europe

The initial set of transnational sub-articles are:

  • CIA Activities by Transnational Topic: Terrorism
  • CIA Activities by Transnational Topic: Arms Control, WMD, and Proliferation
  • CIA Activities by Transnational Topic: Crime and Illicit Drug Trade
  • CIA Activities by Transnational Topic: Health and Economy
  • CIA Activities by Transnational Topic: Human Rights

I've moved over here separate articles on U.S. intelligence involvement with Nazi and Japanese war criminals. They are not part of this hierarchy because much of the immediate postwar events happened before the CIA was formed in 1947, and certainly before the DCI got clear authority, in 1952, over clandestine and covert activities. Obviously, some of these relationships continued under the CIA.

There are articles, not yet moved, about CIA influence on public opinion (worldwide) and other topics, as well as topics on intelligence not specific to CIA. Here is some information on things in that hierarchy, some of which has been ported here, some of which has been renamed:

A comment at the time While I have no current connection with the security and intelligence world, I follow developments as best as I can, and have either massively revised or created some articles on intelligence. Having worked on some extensive articles on some of the more technical branches of intelligence, it's been suggested I write an "overarching article" tying collection disciplines together with the intelligence cycle, which is now Intelligence cycle management. This became the hierarchy starting with Intelligence cycle management As I work on this, I'm reminded of the trial, under the Official Secrets Act, of a British intelligence officer. Asked by the judge if he had likened the Secret Service to a Marx Brothers movie, he responded, more or less, "No, my Lord. I said that compared to the Secret Service, a Marx Brothers movie was pellucid reality."

Working draft of matrix view of US intelligence community: User:Hcberkowitz/Sandbox-ICmatrix

Note there is overlap with Special Operations. things are proposals are italics; I may have working drafts

Several of the key articles are published at WP, and some have been ported, with changes, to CZ, starting with

Intelligence cycle management
Intelligence collection management
SIGINT+
Electro-optical MASINT
Nuclear MASINT
Geophysical MASINT
Radar MASINT should true imaging radar move to IMINT?
Radiofrequency MASINT
Materials MASINT
Human-source intelligence
Clandestine human-source intelligence strong tie-in with counterintelligence
Special reconnaissance also a special operations technique
Special reconnaissance organizations
Clandestine human-source intelligence operational techniques
Clandestine human-source intelligence recruiting
Clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action (also see Direct action (military))
Clandestine cell system
OSINT$
TECHINT$ (the article exists, but has expanded, not necessarily cleanly, into national-level scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI) and economic intelligence. With the latter two, as with TECHINT, the problem is that they have aspects of both collection and analysis. I think they are more analysis, but haven't decided a good way to describe their collection requirements
medical intelligence (if it doesn't go under intelligence organizations) As for TECHINT, there are collection and analysis aspects.
IMINT$
Should imaging radar move here, but not, for example, tracking radar used to determine missile performance? Anything from electro-optical MASINT? My basic rule: IMINT forms pictures, quasi-imaging MASINT gives graphs or property-by-pixel tables'
Intelligence analysis management
Intelligence analysis
Cognitive traps for intelligence analysis
US intelligence community A-Space
financial intelligence
economic intelligence, which I'm probably not qualified to write
medical intelligence if it doesn't go elsewhere
Intelligence dissemination management
Intelligence cycle security
Counterintelligence
Counterintelligence failures*
Counter-intelligence and counterterror organizations* (fairly unhappy with what's around)

Articles marked with * either are split out from other lengthy articles and expanded, or of assorted short articles of the class I call "glue", as necessary to connect other articles or provide context, such as Echelons above Corps.

Force multiplication is another tricky one, which then feeds into network-centric warfare as well as takes from John Boyd and the various Special Forces ancestors/

+ articles have daughter articles, some I wrote and some that existed; some merging is probably called for. $ denotes contributions but no major rewrite.

and, with help from others, trying to deal with what are increasingly forced lists. When is an organization "counterintelligence" versus "counterterror"? Howard C. Berkowitz 10:56, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Location of bibliography

Richard, bibliographies belong on Bibliography subpages. Please do not request that others leave them on the article page: we place our bibliographies on subpages. If you dislike this policy, you may, like anyone else, use existing processes to propose a change to the policy. --Larry Sanger 12:34, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

How do we resynchronize this?

I've had the chance to look at the current article, and also to review the revision history. When Richard said "I propose to delete it [the Bruce-Lovett report", I read that as a proposal -- not that it was already deleted.

I now discover, in the history, that while nothing whatsoever went on the talk page, the outsourcing section is gone. Yes, there was an edit summary, but the next edit, deleting and replacing more content that I had yesterday, overlaid that edit summary in the watchlist. That's not the only deletion.

Further, content on 3 Image and reputation

   * 3.1 Abuses of CIA authority, 1970s-1990s

4 Since 1980

   * 4.1 2004, DCI takes over CIA top-level functions

and more content went in. It happens that some of these topics, such as the Phoenix program, are discussed in much greater detail in the geographic subarticle, CIA Activities in Asia-Pacific, that haven't yet been brought in.

It is not accidental that much of the controversial material, such as assassinations, moved to subarticles at WP. Over a period of about eight months, it was no longer necessary to have a tinfoil hat to read the main article, the article was no longer breaking browsers at 300K plus, and there were pointers to articles that gave a more balanced view of controversies. Some of the new material added, talking about Dulles' motivation, would have been more appropriate in the article, which is here, on the influences of individual directors.

I'll try to say this diplomatically, but I don't even know where to start editing this article, without reverting back to my original post, which only was created about 13 hours ago. There had been a structure that reflected involving other articles, and also that had been tested to be as neutral as possible on some of the controversy.

I request that Richard save his additions, and, after having done so, we revert back to the article I posted less than 24 hours ago. Once that is done, we can discuss changes, which may be quite useful, but I cannot consider it useful to make major changes to the article headings, add terse and possibly oversimplified explanations of such controversies as assassinations, and not leave a permanent comment on the talk page of what was done. When the change log and the edit summaries are the only things that even hint as disagreement, I don't know where even to start in forming an article based on consensus, a consensus that may well involve people with direct expertise on some of the topics.

I'd also like to get feedback on whether I should quickly move the WP versions of the subarticles mentioned in the outline above, and, yes, draft articles in my WP sandbox about such things as oversight of clandestine and covert operations. At present, I'm faced with content here with which I don't always agree, and that is independent of other articles intended to explain it.

What does the community advise? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:05, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

well I hope Howard does not see this as a confrontational exercise, and let me say I admire his terrific work. CZ is collaboration and no author owns an article or has control over it. We have other authors here and they do things like add new material, new references, and new subheadings, and dropping materials that fail the CZ reliability test. (The outsourcing section was based on rumor, rather than government or scholarly documents.) Now if Howard has changes to suggest to the text I added on a variety of topics he can certainly bring that up right here. In my opinion the article that Howard gave us yesterday needed much more information on historical issues that explain why the CIA is so controversial, as opposed to details like the names of all the various routine offices. As for subheadings, they are there of course to sumamrize in half a line the content of the unit that follows, so I can't see why they upset Howard, unless it's his original schema that is getting altered. Howard seems to think of the CIA package as multiple overlapping integrated articles all written and controlled by himself. That is the definition of a book signed by one author. Each CZ article has to stand on its own bottom and be self contained for the reader, especially an overview of a major controversial agency like the CIA.Richard Jensen 14:55, 16 May 2008 (CDT)


I suggest, sir, that you are not qualified to judge what I think, or that I am proposing that I be in total control of the material. Rather than be in total control, I helped organize an Intelligence Task Force within the Wikipedia Military History Project. Over a period of a number of months, I had extensive discussion to build a consensus that could accomodate many viewpoints.
Each CZ article has to stand on its own bottom and be self contained for the reader, especially an overview of a major controversial agency like the CIA.
If that is indeed the case, why does CZ, as opposed to WP, have a formalized "related article" section? Why are there ongoing discussions -- not arguments -- about cluster design and the appropriate use of subpages?
It's rather difficult to respond to your allegations about outsourcing when you've removed all material on it, without any prior mention, much less a proposal, on the talk page. Since I had not intended for this article not to develop at CZ, I suddenly discovered missing material, and only found out that you had removed it by going through the change log. Since successive change summaries wipe out earlier ones that otherwise would appear in the watchlist, there was no immediately obvious explanation of why the material was gone.
Since the outsourcing section included a reference to a report Congress had required of the DNI, I find it hard to say that the material there was purely speculative. With the intelligence community, journalism, and sources such as Steven Aftergood's Secrecy News at the Federation of American Scientists, are the only sources available -- academia has no special access and government may not issue articles.
It had been my intention, which you could have discovered merely by asking me, to move the outsourcing section, along with the In-Q-Tel activity, into an article about commercial involvement in intelligence activities -- which, in many forms, has been a routine part of the IC for decades. The U-2 and satellites were not built in-house at any intelligence agency.
Some new trends, which have raised concern, are the involvement of contractors in operations. Within the framework of a separate article, which I'm actively drafting in a word processor, is material that comes from something I can't consider other than a hard-core government source: the Taguba Report on Abu Ghraib, which identified that two interrogators attached to "OGA", a common euphemism for CIA, were not actually CIA officers but contractors employed by CACI.
There is a wide spectrum of outsourced activity. It can include research contracts to not-for-profit enterprises such as the MITRE Corporation. It's quite common to go through the Commerce Business Daily and find solicitations for research contracts for intelligence agencies, requiring employees cleared for TS/SCI. Other contracts, which I consider perfectly reasonable, is for linguist support. There have been problems with contractors, in Iraq, in more operational roles, and the Department of Defense now has legislative authority to enforce the Uniformed Code of Military Justice with its contractors. State and CIA, however, are in a much more gray zone. This is an area that would welcome participation from multiple authors and editors: recognition of a need for cooperative research, not a unilateral decision by one editor to delete it, without any discussion, because it was "unencyclopedic" and "speculative."
Since I claim no psychic abilities, I cannot know what you dislike about schemas I have used, but I certaintly don't understand yours or what you choose to prioritize. Given a subject as complex as CIA specifically and US intelligence generally, I see it as positive to discuss schemas, perhaps in a forum or special page rather than on an article page. Since you have not raised your intended deletions here before doing them, in a less-than-24-hour period, you certainly have not given indication that you would like to get consensus on a schema. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:31, 16 May 2008 (CDT)


my 2 cents

One method people have successfully (and unsuccessfully) used in the past is to move the whole document to the talk page, and then edit by paragraph and move back into the main page in increments. This is a drastic step however. Perhaps an easier solution is to give Howard a week or so to work on the article, and then have others give their opinions and arguments and come to some agreement. Another option is the sandbox.

I do note that the article needs some copyediting in a variety of places, and in addition, the table of contents lists failures but no successes. I know success from the CIA doesn't get as much press as failures, but we can probably find some material to make it more balanced in this respect. Since I expect Howard to be editing vigourously over the next few days, I won't do any copyedits until I see a slowdown in activity, unless Howard says go for it. David E. Volk 15:03, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Thank you, David. I confess that I should have fixed one of the compromises needed at WP but not here. Some of the contributors, who quite explicitly described CIA as an evil organization that should be abolished, and regarded it as a purely operational rather than a collection and analysis agency as well, were unwilling to agree to the subarticle structure unless some failures were on the main page.
Successes, especially in analysis and collection systems, were detailed, along with catastrophic failures, in the regional subarticles I haven't yet moved. I would rather not have successes or failures on the main page, but have these all in articles where they can be examined in a specific context (e.g., the chronological history in some country).
I suppose I didn't expect no-notice major revisions in less than 24 hours after posting, or the only "intend to delete", which I saw as an invitation to discussion, to be an after-the-fact notice of deletion. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I suppose I should have brought the entire schema and entire set of articles at once, so, when allegations are made that something was missing, I could point to where the material existed, and then discuss if it should move. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:31, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
for the record I posted the intention-to-delete note before I deleted it. I also went through all the footnotes of the outsourcing section, which is based on op-eds and scare stories by novelists (not on serious journalism), and discovered most of the footnotes refer to the Pentagon, not the CIA. We really can't criticize the CIA for Pentagon cost overruns. So that small section was not encyclopedic by CZ standards. I have a lot of sympathy for Howard for his hard work and for the %$#^& he got at Wikipedia (the same ^^%$#* that brought many of us here to CZ.) But a one-author "book" (with multiple chapters) on the CIA is not how we do things at CZ. Everyone pitches in and makes additions. Important events (Iran, Guatemala, Bay of Pigs, cultural subsidies, Soviet Estimates, domestic spying, 9-11, etc) have to be covered briefly in the main CIA article--which is all most people will ever read. Howard should appreciate that there are real historians here who have worked on these topics for decades (I taught National Security issues to cadets at West Point back in the 1980s, where I worked with fellow professor Stansfield Turner). I acted, furthermore, after consulting a friend who is a leading historian of intelligence agencies, with several books. Richard Jensen 16:00, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to discuss all of one's experience in intelligence. You worked with one Director of Central Intelligence, I worked with one Director of the National Security Agency. You are still claiming I want to write a one-author book, with no evidence other than your own suppositions. Yes, I have recommended a schema, if for no other reason that it explains the relationship of content I may import from WP.
It is my position that there should be a schema, and I fervently disagree that all articles can be self-contained. I am more than delighted, however, to discuss revisions to a schema, and work with others in doing articles under one. There are areas of the world of which I know very little. I have quite a bit of experience with analytical methodologies, and with some, but by no means all, technical collection disciplines.
Since you have deleted much of the sub-schema implicit in this article's headings, it would not be psychic to suspect you do not like my organization, as is your right. Why not, before putting in more material, post your proposed schema, even for this article, on the talk page? Right now, I can't really work on this article, because the sub-schema has changed so much, with assumptions to which I have no access, I don't know where to start. Given that you have deleted large amounts of text, with no discussion, I am hesitant to contribute when it may be swept away in hours.
I agree with your statement:
Everyone pitches in and makes additions.
By all means, add material to supplement; things agreed to be inaccurate, whether you or I wrote them, always can be deleted. Everyone, however, cannot leap in and make deletions without discussion, or the article will be such a moving target that no one can reasonably edit. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:12, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I have on several occasions complained about the lack of discussion surrounding major changes to articles. That is what the Talk pages are for, and it is grossly impolite to delete or significantly change large chunks of text without trying to reach agreement. There is never only one way to present material, and since CZ is a collaborative project the shape of each article has to be reached through a process. Sole authorship is not a good preparation for such collaboration -- regardless of academic quality. Please, everyone, bear this in mind (and not only for this article). Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:18, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Constable notice

Please refresh your collective memories concerning Professionalism and deletion or reversion of large amounts of text as unprofessional behaviors. Also notice that there is a proposed revision on the table. I intend to follow current policy. --D. Matt Innis 16:31, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Okay, after careful review, I agree that the amount of text deleted was large enough and discussion was not sufficient. I have reverted two edits according to our current policy above. Please be careful as this is a banable offense. --D. Matt Innis 21:14, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

My own two cents

I have no particular interest in the on-going argument above, but I *have* looked at the first three paragraphs of the article and I find them to be badly written, really badly organized, and full of jargon and "inside baseball" sort of talk. Maybe they tell the average reader who drops in here to find out about the CIA in general what he is looking for, but I seriously doubt it. I could do a complete rewrite of it, but I'm not going to bother if I get imprecations hurled at me from both sides and/or arbitrary deletions without prior discussion. Hayford Peirce 16:45, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

I'd welcome it; I have no personal ego investment in that text. The lead of this article, to some extent, reflected WP compromises between CIA-as-essence-of-evil and you-dirty-terrorist views. My concerns are much more with the overall schema, some of the less introductory material, and things that I believe are complex enough to deserve separate articles. Some of the deleted material, however, deserved discussion and multiple opinions. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:51, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I used to read a lot of spy novels, and even a couple of now-old non-fiction books about the stuff, so I still have a vague interest in but no particular knowledge of today's CIA. (I wish we could get novelist and one-time CIA-man Charles McCarry to write the article!) But I don't see why the first couple of paragraphs couldn't say something along the lines of:
  • The CIA is an American intelligence agency that was founded in 1947 as a successor to the wartime OSS with the initial intention of so-and-so. Over the years it became thus-and-such. In a major reorganization in 2005 in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2001, it blah blah blah.
In other words, why not a general overview of what the dratted agency actually used to be and has now become. Unless there are some unreconstructed WP cretins lurking here in CZ with powerful agendas of their own regarding the CIA, I don't see why anything any of us writes should be controversial at all. At some point we, ie, someone other than I, can list the more obvious failures, and, possibly, the more obvious successes. There must be dozens of people here at CZ who, like me, are essentially neutral about the CIA, but who are perfectly capable of making general editorial changes and additions just to make an existing article flow more smoothly. Hayford Peirce 17:04, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Just for information, you might want to look at clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action, which chronicles some of the complexities and arguments about what the successor to the OSS should and should not be. How about this:
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was formed in 1947, by the National Security Act of 1947 from the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Originally, it was intended as an analytic and coordination organization, without the clandestine human-source intelligence or covert action capabilities of the wartime OSS. The clandestine and covert functions were put in separate agencies, which was less than ideal; these missions came under the CIA in 1952. President Harry S Truman was concerned with the danger of forming an "American Gestapo" [cite available]
From its creation, the CIA produced a wide range of intelligence analysis studies for government policymakers. Its clandestine human-source intelligence collection -- espionage and other activities -- contributed to the various sources of information that went into analysis done by its own personnel and that of other U.S. and allied intelligence agencies. Far more controversial, however, was its covert action role, which included black propaganda, subversion, political warfare, sabotage, and other actions of which the U.S. government could deny knowledge. Some of these capabilities were used to overthrow governments and other missions that, in hindsight, may not have been in the long-term interest of the United States.
Until 2004, the Director of Central Intelligence headed both the CIA and the United States intelligence community (IC). Partially as a result of reconmmendations from the 9/11 Commission and the WMD Commission for Iraq (cites and exact names to be added), the IC-wide function was transferred to a newly created Director of National Intelligence, with the DCI renamed the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. CIA remained responsible for a wide range of analysis functions, as well as being the central human-source intelligence organization of the U.S. government, sharing covert action with military organizations.
The success and failure area, as I've mentioned, would be, IMHO, better off in separate articles, that could deal with particular matters in context. These articles certainly could be linked from the main page, although would have to be in some hierarchical schema to avoid hundreds of links -- some of those links, for example, represent very successful intelligence collection and analysis.
I don't see it as an overwhelming problem for a reader to be able to take a clear link to a sub-article. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:52, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
I'd say that it was only about 16,000 times better than what currently exists!!!! Geez! Was all of the other stuff because of WP-wars? Amazing! If so, then that opening ought to become a poster child for what's wrong with WP. As for your other comments, I don't see anything wrong with doing things as you propose. All of CZ, at the moment, however, is discussing and reconsidering this whole subpage, related articles, and sub-article business, so I really can't give any suggestions or advice here. So -- just forge ahead! Hayford Peirce 17:58, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Howard says he's not writing a book-- I count about 25 proposed articles with over 90,000 words already on CZ and much more coming. That's a book. (I used articles and got 630,000+ bytes which is about 90,000 words]. As for this CIA article I suggest a lot of the organizational detail can be put in a subarticle for those interested in it, and we can expand the history section. By the way it was not Truman who talked about an "American Gestapo" it was the isolationist Republicans who did not want a CIA. "The proposed agency has all the potentialities of an American Gestapo," thundered Edward Robertson (R-WY) 1947" In terms of organization, Howard propose to do the history by geography instead of time period. That means the episodes in different areas in the same year that were part of the overall strategy that year are in 5 different geographic articles (Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Near East and Asia, Russia and Europe). Unhappily users will not easily see the whole picture and that is not how historians write history. Richard Jensen 18:46, 16 May 2008 (CDT)
Valid objections, I would imagine. I will leave it to you two and others to come to a consensus -- my own interest was in getting the opening paragraphs to resemble some sort of organized English prose instead of gibberish. Howard's proposed rewrite certainly accomplishes that, regardless of how much tweaking it may then need. Hayford Peirce 19:23, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

There is a difference between diplomatic history and the history of intelligence organizations

I really wish, Richard, you'd tone down the remarks about "how historians do things", "real historians," and the like. I especially wish you'd stop speaking of me in the third person, and, in the above example, not discussing but, frankly, chastising and challenging my good faith. Constable, I'd ask that note be taken of this manner of phrasing. Now, Richard, the previous sentence was addressed to a second party. The first two sentences were not. Apropos of books, I have written both commercially published books, and book-length monographs. Your metrics apply reasonably to a paper book, but they are not reasonable metrics for a hypertext document. Books tend to be read in linear order, or at least by chapters in a reference or text. Hyperdocuments are not, and there is abundant literature in human factors that shows individuals can manage larger quantities of information in such a nonlinear structure. Indeed, CIA itself is making increasing use of Intellipedia, their internal classified Wiki, because it allows collaborative markup in a way that simply doesn't work with paper documents.

Apropos of chronological order, has it occurred to you that the CIA's action are not the full scope of American foreign policy, but a component? I would not organize an article on the foreign relations of the US in a chronological matter, but this is a specific kind of history, in which chronology is quite important. Several examples come to mind, variously having to do with the evolution of covert action in a given country -- Indonesia is an especially good example. State has complained about CIA station chiefs that had longer tenure in a country than the Ambassador, giving the station chief more leverage. In other cases, especially with the Soviet Union, to see the evolution of policy as a result of intelligence, there is significance in the chronology of estimates of military and economic capability. There is significance in how accurate the successive estimates may have been and whether the process improved over time. There is also significance in the disruptive effects of new technology, such as the various "bomber gaps" and "missile gaps", before and after there was overhead reconnaissance from U-2 aircraft and imaging satellites, and, later, SIGINT satellites.

Perhaps you might want to develop a critique of why the CIA is incorrectly organized, as those five regional articles happen to correspond directly to the regional offices of the Directorate of Intelligence, and, quite likely, the National Clandestine Service. The functional articles also directly mirror the structure of the non-geographic offices such as transnational crime & drugs.

So far, I have heard you complain a great deal about my schema, usually in third-person references to me. I have heard you complain about what the reader will and will not do, without necessarily considering if the reader might be better informed by knowing how the agencies, not CIA alone, are organized. If there is a structural weakness because they do not work in a way that "real historians" organize information, that is relevant information. If it is merely different than what "real historians" do, perhaps that may reflect that the organization of academic history is not necessarily the best for understanding the topic at hand, intelligence operations. You are certainly free to write articles on general United States foreign policy, with as much worldwide connections as seem appropriate. Some of your complaints, however, seem to focus that the schema is not written as a historian would organize it, with which I agree. It is, however, written in the way intelligence agencies are organized.

Rather than continue to complain about how my organization and proposed volume offend you, why don't you offer some specific schemas of your own? Alternatively, CZ is a large place./ There's room for general diplomatic history, which I am not attempting to write. There's room for the history of intelligence organizations, which I am attempting to write.

In other words, offer some constructive suggestions and discuss in a collaborative manner, unless you will only speak collaboratively to those that meet your very specific criteria of worthiness. Am I, perhaps, missing your intent? Howard C. Berkowitz 19:58, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Fresh Start

I think it is obvious that everyone here is capable of producing a fine article. Let's start over and practice good collaborative technique. Keep your comments on subject and avoid building your argument by denigrating other authors/editors. If there are future problems, consider dispute resolution. --D. Matt Innis 21:18, 16 May 2008 (CDT)

Took a look through this, hope my changes are uncontroversial. I rewrote the intro somewhat, and thinned out acronyms and abbreviations, and didn't delete anything except small segments that either seemed simply redundant or else I just didn't understand at all (possibly my supidity, feel free to restore if that looks likely). There's a huge scope here and I'd be inclined to support the idea that it's better separated into several articles, mainly because at present its addressing different sorts of readers for its different elements, so overall fluency and coherence will be a problem I think.Gareth Leng 06:34, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

I need to know who is considered an editor on this page? --D. Matt Innis 08:04, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

Thanks, Matt and Gareth. I'm a Military and Computers editor, and would hope to be editing here. As an aside, assuming there is a consensus that more than a few intelligence-related articles are appropriate, we should try to decide on the relevant workgroups. Even something like electronic intelligence covers a good deal of workgroup scope, such as Military, Physics, Engineering, Computers, Mathematics and Library & Information Science.
Before going to far, let me explain the edits I made yesterday, at least one of which I felt had been discussed. First, what I did as bullets, with explanations following:
  • Replaced the introductory lead with the one discussed on the talk page yesterday. Put in a couple of sources on the "American Gestapo" concern, although the providence of that remark is complex. Quite a number of journalistic histories and quotation references attribute it to Truman, but I suspect it originated in one or more places: White House staff and Republican opposition. It's entirely possible that Truman did start using it, but didn't create it. Also in the intro, I linked to several pieces of relevant reports and legislation, both that which created the CIA, and that which led to, and then created the Director of National Intelligence.
  • Temporarily moved the "outsourcing" material back to my computer, where I propose to create a broader article on U.S. intelligence and the private sector. Some of this, such as the building of satellites, or consultation with true experts, should be relatively noncontroversial (well, there is a controversy over cost overruns in the Future Imagery Architecture project, no longer under CIA). Others bear on the legislatively required report that was classified, which focuses on the replacement of CIA employees by resident contractors. Some other material for that article includes use of operational contractors, as with the two contractor interrogators identified in the Abu Ghraib matter.
  • Propose to move out "failures", that being one of the WP political compromise. I propose to discuss how to go with that, as well as the general schema, on this page, unless we agree on a subproject or other place to talk about schemas. Do note I have been using one schema for US-specific intelligence and one for globalised material. The schema for general intelligence is on my user page, and I'll be putting a proposed CIA, and possibly other intelligence agencies, schema there over the weekend, taking a hard look at what was done at Wikipedia.
the issue of failures is central to the CIA story. It has to be in the main article--and indeed there can also be longer articles on some cases like Bay of Pigs. Richard Jensen 10:19, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
  • Propose to move out the "Image and Reputation" and other material related to covert action. This was probably the most controversial area at WP, as there is a lot of ideology and subjectivity, and the solution was taking all "action" into subarticles where the actions could be discussed in context, especially of higher-level orders/approval (e.g., Bay of Pigs), Congressional oversight and control attempts (e.g., Boland Amendment and Iran-Contra), and the interaction between intelligence estimates and covert actions that made use of the data (good and bad both -- Indonesia is a complex example). At WP, nine months ago, the main article was two-thirds covert action, without much sourcing, without context, and with a lot of potential to inflame. Things worked out much better in subarticles. Again, let me address a difference in opinion between Richard Jensen and myself: on complex articles that are in a hypertext format, I see no strong reason to have self-contained articles as long as the reader easily can link to more detail. This is, after all, being presented on a computer screen, where the ability to zoom up to a 50,000 view, or drill down to fine details, is a key part of good user interface design. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:05, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
No, the image and reputation are central issues. The Wiki failures are hardly relevant when we all know their problems and we can do things better over at CZ. This article has to be self contained to be an encyclopedia article that covers the CIA. People come here not for the low-level details of the organizational chart--which are easy to move out--but rather they come for the highly controversial and very important episodes. That is a strong reason indeed to have it here. If some readers think the material is uninteresting they can skip over it. Richard Jensen 10:19, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
Strongly disagree, Richard. We are not a tabloid for the "juicy inside stories of the CIA". Leave that to the Star, or Fox News, or other salacious reporting body. --Robert W King 10:30, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
  • Miscellaneous citation fixes and text edits.
Nothing was lost; the only headings that were taken out were "outsourcing" and the "failures" section. Several specific articles were created or edited. I'll try to do better on mentioning what I propose before I do it, although most of these issues had been at least raised here, if not fully discussed. I thought it OK to relocate or temporarily extract things that I knew were there only to solve WP politics. Howard C. Berkowitz 09:53, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

My three cents

I just started reading this article to review it and to me it is an uninteresting train-wreck from the get-go. The intro is chronologically poor and is in dire need of copy editing, particularly this as an example: "At first it was not given the clandestine human-source intelligence or covert action capabilities of the OSS - these activities, popularly understood as "spying", were at first undertaken by other agencies, but in 1952 such missions came under the CIA. "

However as much as I'd like to suggest that we abandon the entire text; perhaps there is enough to be saved for a fresh draft. I think we should reconsider much of the OSS material for a separate OSS article, but definately mention it as an integral component partially responsible of the CIAs creation. --Robert W King 09:38, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

I may not be seeing it due to having looked at it for a while, but I didn't think there was more than a couple of sentences about the OSS, only to establish origin. The transition from OSS to CIA was not a simple one; please look at clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action for some details of why it is complex.
Yes, that sentence is awkward. Let me give a background note, and then please feel free to try to improve it. The wartime OSS contained covert action, clandestine intelligence, and intelligence analysis. Between 1945 and 1952, these functions were separated, the first two into offices that were more attached to the CIA and not clearly under the authority of the CIA director. Some freelancing without higher-level approval took place in this period.
There are also two references to some excellent books on OSS personnel selection and training, in the context of the current Office of Training. There isn't a huge amount of non-sensational open literature in this area.

Howard C. Berkowitz 09:53, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

There's also a lot of content fragmentation in these sections:
  • Executive Staff [edit]
Particularly as it does not describe the positions as much as it describes events that happened, which should be moved somewhere else anyway.
  • Organizational history [edit]
The first paragraph somewhat duplicates the introduction. In fact I;d move a lot of this content to the timeline subpage.
There are also sections that are subsections but have the wrong heading type and should be reorganized, particularly everything under Organizational history, Image and reputation. --Robert W King 10:03, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
Other than at the very start, where personalities were immensely important, you may well be right about events in the foundation. I find it difficult to separate covert operations between 1947-1952 with the reality that the DCI did not have full authority over them, until, in 1952, DCI Walter Bedell Smith (redlink now as a reminder) insisted that they be brought under more oversight.
Might I ask you to look at the articles Director of Central Intelligence and clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action, and see if you think certain sections here should move there, or perhaps to some-article-to-be-created? In particular, look at the DCI article section on influence of directors on the agency. There are some issues not quite covered well anywhere, such as the dynamics of having Allen W. Dulles as DCI while his brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State. My personal feeling is this aggravated, but did not create, a problem, in the fifties, to resort to covert options merely because it would annoy someone seen as Communist, rather than whether it was appropriate for the long-term interest of the United States.
What heading types do you have in mind? You may be thinking of a CZ convention that I don't know, and would be happy to learn. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:39, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I just meant the hierarchy of subheadings; =xxx=; ==xxx==; and ===xxx===. I'll look over the other articles today at some point. --Robert W King 10:45, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
Oh, OK. In the cut and paste, some things may be at the wrong level. If you see something that looks to be at the wrong level, would you mind fixing it but making a note on this page?Howard C. Berkowitz 11:19, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

Relations with Congress

I propose to put into this article, or a subarticle about oversight, more about the mechanisms of Congressional (and Executive Branch) oversight, rather than quickly summarizing the relationships in certain administrations. It's probably fair to say that Richard and I have different views on how this is to be presented.

In an article dealing with the Agency proper, as opposed to the actions of the agency, some topics that would be appropriate, sometimes as links, would include:

  1. Current status and controversies in oversight, which gets into the areas of what is disclosed only to the "big 8" members (i.e., equivalent to a "waived" Special Access Project, SAP being the DoD equivalent to Sensitive Compartmented Information in the intelligence community), disclosed in executive session to the relevant committees (i.e., "unacknowledged"), and briefed to committees but shown as a budget line item (generally not done for SCI, but "acknowledged" for SAP).
  2. Specific restrictions, such as the Boland Amendment and the threat to block funds if an explanation of the strike in Syria were not provided; the role of Presidential Findings. Iran-Contra as a circumvention of Boland. Current concerns that putting some covert actions in DoD may circumvent requirements for briefing Congress.
  3. Substantive reform proposals, perhaps in a subarticle (e.g., Paul Pillar's proposal for a specialized "mini-GAO")
  4. Presidential perspective, ranging from Eisenhower's admonition to Congressional leaders that he didn't want hearing (can source this from FRUS) to Bush 43's interpretation of unitary authority

Obviously, some of these are technical, and should be in a subarticle, but I remain unconvinced that narratives of conflicts are useful in the main page on a controversial subject. CIA stirs up enough passions that I believe it is best to start with a structural perspective, rather than narratives to which there always can be links. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:30, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

Like Howard I had a bad experience with Wikipedia, but I have learned that at CZ we can do better. One result of the troubles at Wikipedia is the least-controversial solution of lots of lists , such as the listing of various reports, or listing of all the bureaucratic subdivisions. This over-reliance on lists is not necessary ay longer at CZ. So I reject the Wikipedia-like solution Howard proposes (ie "CIA stirs up enough passions that I believe it is best to start with a structural perspective, rather than narratives"). There will only be one main article on the CIA, and this is it, Most people will only read it and not go to the dozens of other related articles. If important material is not in this article, readers will miss it. If less important material clogs the article then readers will tend to overlook the more important parts. Howard is thinking in terms of a book--such as his dozens of articles on intelligence that so far run to 200+ printed page lengths on CZ-- and indeed in a book you do not put all the good stuff in chapter one. Please publish the book, but meanwhile let's put all the important points about the CIA right here. Richard Jensen 13:12, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
Again, Richard, don't tell me what I am thinking. You don't actually know. I consider it quite rude to keep telling me what I think. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:38, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
Surely nothing good can come of this discourse and energy could be better spent! --Robert W King 13:44, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I further note that I made specific responses, just above, to the material you added about Congressional relations. Do you consider it more appropriate, to encourage collaboration, to ignore a response to what you write in the article, and, instead, speculate on personal motivations?Howard C. Berkowitz 13:42, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I agree with Richard in that the CIA article should probably be solely about the CIA; just as we would not write about each Director in its history in the CIA article itself, we should probably not focus on one major "incident" (for lack of a better word). If there is enough material about "CIA Congressional Disputes" then it should stand alone on its own legs. --Robert W King 13:25, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I'm a little confused. There is an article, Director of Central Intelligence, that does have the specific CIA actions of every director. Robert, would your concerns be met if some additional director-specific material moved from this article to the appropriate director entry there?
My apologies; I mean that if there is enough relevancy about any particular directors to the creation of the CIA then its valid to have that information here but as far as a chronological catalog of directors and the actual position itself, that should rest seperately from this article (could be a subpage though!) --Robert W King 13:44, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I think we are in violent agreement. It's entirely possible that I'm not seeing some director-specific material because I've looked at it for months, but, in the main article, I only thought I made even small mention of Smith as taking control of covert action, and Dulles as a major contributor (before being DCI) to the design of the Agency.
I didn't write the material, for example, about what Dulles spent. Could you help me out with where you see references to directors that don't belong in the main article? Since there is so much general interest in covert ops, and how crazy some were before 1952, I think it's appropriate to mention that someone eventually introduced adult supervision. Beyond that, however, I really didn't think there was much director-specific material in what I wrote, but other eyes may see that differently and help me see it.
Then it's a non issue; I won't worry about it--it may have been my fault. --Robert W King 14:17, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
I do have some other material that could go to writing a Congressional relations article, if you think that would be useful. It's scattered in several places but could certainly be pulled together. What would you think about such an article being not CIA specific, but Intelligence Community and Congress, so it can pick up things like the arguments about the current Administration being reluctant to tell Congress what the NASA surveillances actually are doing? There's also some Congressional concern about allowing the use of some intelligence satellites over the US, which I personally think is a little silly -- some reasons include using missile-launch heat sensors to map forest fires, industrial accidents, etc.Howard C. Berkowitz 14:08, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
There are a few mentions of specific directors, mostly in the founding, in this article. I'm confused, in part, because Richard, in narrative of a style I don't think will work in the main article, makes Director-specific comments such as how "Dulles devoted 80% of his much enlarged budget ($82 million) to covert (secret) operations to contain Communism". This is not sourced, and, while I agree that in an expert-written section that things do not need to be sourced to death, the reality is that the secrecy of CIA's total budget, much less a specific program, is a real and controversial issue. I'd like to see some verifiable evidence of that 80 percent figure, and, if that is there, where the other money went. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:38, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

Probably will need an independent editor.

I've been following up on some of the text dealing with Agency operations, which I neither wrote nor believe belongs in a top-level article. Apropos of that last, there clearly is a difference between Richard and myself in what belongs in this article, and if a hypertext article needs to be self-contained. This is a content matter, on which he and I seem to have opposite beliefs.

Given that, I did not write the material on operations. Some that is there has a POV flavor to me, and is unsourced. Now, I can bring over and continue to improve the separate articles that were built and Wikipedia, and that I propose to continue improving me. In none of those articles, however, did anyone editorialize along the lines of

"Its regular briefings gave each president the sense that he knew exactly what was happening across the globe. Like ingenious prognosticators through the ages, the CIA's predictions seemed highly explicit yet never could quite be pinned down. They failed to predict any of the major surprises of the postwar era.", taken from Early Cold War, 1953-1966

I did not write any of the next section, Covert operations. In an earlier comment, I questioned the estimate of Dulles' spending. Going on in that section, "...Striking low-cost successes early on reinforced the CIA's mastermind image." is not sourced, and "mastermind" has a sensational flavor that I suggest does not belong in a description of operations and reporting.

The section on "Assassinations", again without sources, is a jumble of catchphrases and lack of context. In particular, "In the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, it planned several assassinations, with Fidel Castro a target of "Operation Mongoose." Fidel survived the exploding cigars; indeed, as a hostile Senate committee concluded, the agency did not in fact assassinate anyone."

There is very clear documentation that the attempts to assassinate Castro were strongly endorsed by John and Robert Kennedy. I'm quite prepared to give sourced material on the way CIA personnel attempted to carry out those operations, and must confess that if I had not been finding it in a reputable newspaper as well as declassified documents, I would have thought them to be part of a low-budget spy spoof. "...indeed, as a hostile Senate committee concluded..." Would it be too much to expect that the specific committee and hearing dates be examined, such that the reader can, if she or he chooses, to validate whether the hostility was partisan or bipartisan?

I'm really at a loss for words at the section on "Image and reputation"; I'll merely point to CIA influence on public opinion, newly posted, as a work-in-progress with less editorializing and more sourcing.

My reverting is not the civil answer. Help is needed. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:45, 17 May 2008 (CDT)

Yes, I agree with most of these points, insofar as I am competent in such a specialised area. What is very clear is that sections of the article do not satisfy CZ Neutrality Policy (by hte way, we don't have or allow the WP acronyms). I do not understand why the article is in the Law workgroup, when clearly politics is a more relevant area, so I am changing the workgroup assignment. This also means that I will have Editor status here, and may be able to offer some limited guidance. ...said Martin Baldwin-Edwards (talk) 23:28, 17 May 2008
Thank you for mentioning the banning of WP acronyms; knowing that is, perhaps, an equivalent of a thoroughly cleansing bath.
Politics and law, of course, intertwine. In a calmer situation, I might point to some of the history of the National Security Act of 1947, the Intelligence Reorganization Act of 1949. It's harder to know where to place things such as presidential decisions, or the substantial amount of declassified material on White House committee level approval of covert and clandestine operations. In the case of the Castro assassination material, however, the popular notion that the CIA was rogue on that is simply not supported by a large volume of declassified documents. John, and even more so Robert, Kennedy seemed to have a personal animus toward Castro, much as Lyndon Johnson turned Vietnam into a battle of his ego being stronger than Ho Chi Minh's.
I mention this only that an unsourced section about "CIA assassination plots", without excusing the idiots assigned to the tasks, plays into the common hysteria about an invisible government. Now, should the DCI and others offered their resignations rather than accept some presidential orders? Perhaps, perhaps not. The point is that the sensational paragraphs about covert action are neither accurate in detail, or informative of the process of U.S. covert action approval -- a separate issue being whether the action, whoever ordered it, was wise. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:51, 17 May 2008 (CDT)
In these difficult area concerning the intelligence and security services, competing claims and analyses need to be calmly presented. The exact relation between government and such services is always conjectural, and dependent on limited (declassified) materials. However, I agree that separating the CIA from government (covert) policy is in itself a political position, and should not be presented as the "correct" analysis. You should feel free to amend such material and also rename any headings that constitute political or analytical positions. Take a look at the Neutrality Policy, because this is central to the matter. We need to present coherent competing positions, whatever our own views on the matter. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:12, 18 May 2008 (CDT)

Observations on operational digests now in the main article.

Let me preface this remark by saying that I am completely opposed, for a number of reasons, for putting "quick digests" of CIA activities on the main page. I am singularly unimpressed by the argument that readers will not follow links to other pages; following webpage links is a routine activity for people that have grown up with them. I first touched a computer in 1966, and, from my antiquity, still manage to navigate web pages, and even create them. It is a completely unfair thing to say I turned down a date with Ada, Lady Lovelace, to work on my computer. We will not, however, get into my social relationships with Grace Hopper.

I'm really taking a random one-paragraph section, and simply pointing out a few things in it that could lead the casual user astray.

In 1981 President Reagan appointed his campaign manager Bill Casey to run the CIA; Casey, a veteran of OSS. espionage, made the CIA a powerful instrument of rollback policy. With nuclear deterrence tying the Kremlin's hands, Casey used the CIA to attack the weak links in the Soviet empire. In Afghanistan, it funded and trained Mujahidin guerrillas who deliberately created "another Vietnam" to weaken the Soviet invaders, and indeed finally did defeat the Soviet invasion. Anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan and Cambodia received strong support from Congress, but operations in Angola and especially Nicaragua became the focus of intense political controversy. When Congress one year prohibited the CIA from operating in Nicaragua, Reagan's White House exploited a loophole by sending its own staffer, Oliver North, to funnel arms and money to the Contra guerrillas.

Yes, Reagan appointed Casey as DCI. Casey had run OSS' penetrations of Germany, but had not stayed active in intelligence, beyond an occasional advisory committee, since then. It's hard to say what the unexplained, unlinked, unsourced "rollback policy" would mean to the hypothetical casual reader; without claiming to know what is in Richard's mind, I can make probably accurate assumptions -- but then I wouldn't need to be reading this summary.

The part about Oliver North is strongly misleading. While North's public testimony was quite dramatic, North was, at best, a mid-level player in the Iran-Contra affair, which is never mentioned here; that the violation of the Boland Amendment prohibiting funds to the Contras was circumvented by indirect provision of embargoed weapons to Iran, through some arms brokers that profited significantly. Given current public positions, I'd have to think that mentioning that the indirect link to Iran went via Israel; in spite of rhetoric, Israel and Iran have cooperated, through deniable intelligence channels, when it suited their mutual interests.

North did come up with many ideas for Iran-Contra, but might I suggest he lacked adult supervision? It is not irrelevant that both of his top managers at the White House, Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter, resigned over the matter; McFarlane later attempted suicide. North, admittedly, was explicitly fired, but, if I may offer a subjective opinion, gloriously fell on his sword, in a blaze of personal publicity, deflecting the attention from higher-ranking officials. North has gone on to a lucrative career as a political commentator; he probably was not going to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps had he stayed in uniform.

As opposed to North, Casey, who was paid by CIA funds explicitly forbidden to be used to assist the Contras, was the actual operational head. Note that of the list of people involved, for a description of a "CIA activity", Casey was the only CIA employee involved (perhaps some personal staff as well), and did so in the face of explicit legislation, the Boland Amendment, banning it. Casey, Poindexter and McFarlane all worked for the White House. The project also contracted with some retired people with special operations and intelligence experience, such as Richard Secord.

For a not-unreasonable journalistic account, see Bob Woodward's Veil; there are a fair number of declassified documents online for those who want more detail. The main reason that Casey, an attorney and policy level official who certainly knew the intent of Congress, was a dying man by the time the Congressional hearings came up.

So, we have two problems here. The first is the structural problem of having short summaries on the front page. The more serious one is the combination of their oversimplification, and the lack of links to more specific articles that say what actually happened

Now, should there be a defense of the points in this paragraph, here on the main article discussion page, is that not something of an indication that the matter is too complex for accurate recounting at this level, and that my point about subpages might indicate that is the proper case for detail? My preferences would be:

  • Don't have the activity reports in the main article, but simply a navigation box with a clear set of links to subarticles that exist.
  • Only put activity summaries on the main article when the points are unambiguous, and, where there is ambiguity, be sure there are subarticles to which, for example, the activities of Casey, North, and others
  • If the activities can be accurately described in one paragraph do so, but remember the sage who was asked to explain his religion: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The rest is commentary." If that sort of eloquence and focus is available, I am delighted.

Richard and I have made our diametrically opposed positions clear. What do other editors think? Howard C. Berkowitz 11:07, 18 May 2008 (CDT)

Howard seems to object to one sentence: "When Congress one year prohibited the CIA from operating in Nicaragua, Reagan's White House exploited a loophole by sending its own staffer, Oliver North, to funnel arms and money to the Contra guerrillas." I think the sentence is accurate--and let me add that I wrote the article on the Boland Amendment for a (paper) reference work and read through the documentation and serious books, and also I edited a (paper) encyclopedia on the Cold War that covered much of the material. The sentence in question says that when Congress prohibited a certain action by the CIA the White House found a loophole to secretly do the same job. The reason it's here is because it's a very famous example of the White House getting around limitation on the CIA. As for rollback, it's on my list of articles-to-write, and is now discussed in articles on the Korean War, NSC-68 and Vietnam War, etc. Rollback is the policy of removing a Communist regime either by military force (as in Korea, a failure, and Grenada, successful) or via the covert actions used by the CIA in Guatemala, Cuba, etc. Wikipedia has a poor article on the topic.[1] Howard complains about "oversimplification" --ah yes, how does one write an encyclopedia article on, say, British history without simplification? The undergraduate will discover her medium-sized university library has perhaps 30,000 books on British history, running millions of pages. (At Yale or Illinois or UCLA the holdings will be much larger.) I think what an encyclopedia CAN do is show the undergraduate the main points, and give some guidance as to the disputes and debates and sources. That is, simplify the complexity for the user and provide as well multiple entry points for further study. Howard's use of "over" in "oversimplification" is the rub. The reason we collaborate here at CZ is to help avoid that danger.Richard Jensen 11:57, 18 May 2008 (CDT)
Let me first address collaboration, which I indeed think is a fine idea. In my mind, with a complex subject, it is best to define the problem. When I put up a first article, I didn't begin to assume it was perfect. Although Richard seems to object to having a series of linked articles, I also put a schema on the talk page, as a point of departure for discussing scope.
Just to address that the totality of such material might be a "book", let me say that I know books. I have published books. Books are my friends. But this is no Jack Kennedy book; it's a proposed set of hyperlinked documents, which has a quite distinct user interface and user experience model. For some things, hypertext will replace books, but for not all things, for it is quite unwise to take a computer, used to access hypertext, with one when one luxuriates in a bubble bath.
It is not my intention to get into an argument over the specifics of the "loophole" in question, although I disagree with the interpretation. Again suggesting that supposition is less illuminating than a direct question, I was concerned with more than one sentence. Had Casey not been dying, there is a high probability he would have been indicted over his specific violations. As long as he was DCI, the Boland Amendment applied to him.
So, let us return to collaboration. Now, I have looked at some substantial articles of which I believe Richard was the primary author. The only changes I made was to hyperlink some context to material I had just added, about which he could not reasonably be expected to know.
There are parts where I believe I could simply improve the flow of the words without changing any content. There is other content with which I disagree. Nevertheless, my concept of professionalism is first to post my concerns on the appropriate talk page. When I challenge content or context, my first preference is to see if I can adequately refer to it in the talk comment. I might take a small amount of text onto the talk page.
If I felt that some sections seriously disturbed the flow, or were not pertinent, I would have several options that I would consider courteous, professional and collaborative. Under no circumstances would I have deleted a large number of headings, replacing them with my own, because that causes the loss of a common context for discussion. If the section was not sufficiently long to make the action too hard to read, I might put strikethroughs in the article, interspersed, where appropriate, with alternate text or links. In some cases, elsewhere, I temporarily removed text, put it into a sandbox page, kept (but possibly supplemented) the headings, and made sure there were links to the old content as well as the suggested new text.
A process such as that preserves the structure and allows several experts to comment on the same material, which is the essence, as I understand it, of CZ collaboration. That-which-is-done-at-the-other-place, "bold-revert-discuss", does not scale well in complex matters.
My focus right now is to establish a reasonable framework in which disagreements on material can be discussed. There was no particular reason why sections needed to be deleted without discussion, and were later reverted; the replacement text could always have been added to the article, and the different approaches seen side-by-side. That didn't happen, which I find a pity, as it makes intelligent collaboration so much more difficult.
As I mentioned, I am quite aware of what rollback means, but, then, I am an expert on some of this material. If the point was that a reader, new to the topic, was not familiar with it, a Google dump does not substitute for a concise explanation, either inline or linked. Actually, I'm rather surprised to see the Google search suggested as an explanation, as my experience with such uninterpreted dump tends to be more the sort of things I'd expect from an anonymous contributor to a politial opinion blog, where facts and objective interpretation are consider superfluous.
Again, Richard, you talk about collaboration, and what "real historians" do. Peer review in any learned discipline that I know does not consist of wholesale replacement of text and restructuring of the submission. I have had, on my books, people in a role simply beyond peer reviewer, with whom I could go back-and-forth on organization and content, in a way that a pure editor, not versed in the topic, could not do.
So how do we establish cooperation rather than "my argument can beat up your argument, and I'm going to take your marble headings and go home?" Howard C. Berkowitz 13:04, 18 May 2008 (CDT)

View from the shore

I'm not an editor here, and my views don't need to be taken with any weight, nor do they need to be responded to. But for what their worth, mine are the views of one potential interested reader. The question is what do we want on Citizendium for this particular article, the "gateway" CIA article. One of the first articles on Citizendium was Biology, in many ways a model gateway article. Deliberate decisions were reached among several editors that a) it should first and foremost be interesting and accessible and avoid jargon; b) that it should nevertheless be rigorously accurate, simplified but not dumbed down, c) that it should not attempt to be remotely comprehensive in itself but should be a "sampler" , giving some of the flavour of the subject not a digest. I think that was a success. If that model were followed, then the technical detail of the structure of the CIA for example would go to other articles (or subpages), leaving the kind of summary that a casual reader like me would find important. And for example, that summary would tell me things like how many people work for the CIA, how much it spends, exactly what its purpose is and how it is overseen by Government. And then the article would perhaps give me a glimpse of how it works by a few carefully selected examples, explained in enough detail to be balanced and accurate. And then there would be links to more specialised articles. I think much of that is there now somewhere, but buried, and needing to be brought out, developed and refinedGareth Leng 14:25, 18 May 2008 (CDT)

You make some good points. I'm certainly not insistent that the organizational history needs to be on the main page, but, then, I don't insist that the main page be self-contained.
Unfortunately, several of your summary questions, while entirely reasonable, have no simple answer, given that the budget and staffing, have, until recently, been totally classified. With congressional pressure, the total intelligence community and perhaps the major agency budget totals are starting to come out. As an aside, the really large budget items tend to be the technical collection systems' construction and operation, which is more National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency than CIA. When a rocket launcher known to be carrying an intelligence satellite blows up in the first minute, there's enough information to take a reasonable estimate, "there just went $2.5 billion."
Oversight is a very critical issue, which, I believe, deserves a carefully crafted summary in the main article, with links both to the history and organization of general oversight, and how oversight worked -- or did not work -- in specific situations. Now, I'll be the first to say that there were some bad things done that a sane oversight panel would have stopped. Some of the more egregious actions, however, may have started at White House level, and been pro forma approved by the oversight system -- which has difficulty in saying "Mr. President, that's insane!"
I don't have any difficulty with having some introductory examples that take the reader to more detailed article. For example, when I'm lecturing on the subject, I often introduce the idea of looking at the full range of activities, intelligence collection, analysis, and covert action with a little discussion of the history in Indonesia in the 1950s and 1960s. The four or so major areas can be discussed in an introductory paragraph, where the immense complexity of Southeast Asia doesn't lend itself to more than a pointer. I do believe it is extremely important to establish that the activities are not just covert action, but also intelligence collection and analysis. Sometimes, the analysts do get it right and give wise advice to policymakers. In other cases, policymakers either ignored the analysis because it didn't suit their preconceptions, or even insisted the reporting be changed to meet the preconceptions.
I do, however, have a significant problem in trying to reduce the significant events of a decade into a paragraph. Your differentiation about simplified versus dumbed-down is well taken; I'd add to that the simplified language, while not boring, should not go too far in being "interesting", such that it begins to sound like a tabloid. If I may, I will take an example from the electronic intelligence article, of the sort of interesting paragraph that might well be our ideal for an introduction to a link:
"During the human struggle between the British and the German Air Forces, between pilot and pilot, between AAA batteries and aircraft, between ruthless bombing and fortitude of the British people, another conflict was going on, step by step, month by month. This was a secret war, whose battles were lost or won unknown to the public, and only with difficulty comprehended, even now, to those outside the small scientific circles concerned. Unless British science had proven superior to German, and unless its strange, sinister resources had been brought to bear in the struggle for survival, we might well have been defeated, and defeated, destroyed."
Winston Churchill[2]
Even in Churchill's book, that only introduced a chapter, partially concerning subject matter that had not been fully declassified. Hopefully, it would take even the non-technical reader to books such as that of R.V. Jones, or, if I may hope, to a series of linked articles here, taking one to the technical depth desired, and no deeper. (Yes, I am working on a basic radar article)Howard C. Berkowitz 14:54, 18 May 2008 (CDT)

Suggestion

Thanks Howard, I would agree that Churchill would have been welcome here on Citizendium, though he might have been given a hard time occasionally (perhaps by Welsh editors with long memories).

There seems to be an impasse, though perhaps more the appearance of one than the reality, because what I read in the page above is cogent reason from reasonable people. I'm not an expert here. Nevertheless, I see that the Talk page is getting long while the article is stuck. What I'd like to propose therefore, now that Howard has heard a number of views, that we (the rest of the Citizendium community) take a step back from this article and just wait and see where it goes awhile, as Howard develops it in the light of what he has heard, with the assistance of those who are willing to help him in the direction he has outlined. I like to remember two things: 1) Nobody has to be an editor here, it's in all our interests to encourage knowledgeable and committed authors, even when they go in directions that we individually have reservations about. 2) One of the virtues of Citizendium is that we have an ultimate approval process, a bar which cherishes the integrity of a final product while allowing that draft articles may be imperfect, without those imperfections being damaging to the overall project. An editor has expressed reservations, Howard knows that ultimately to gain approval he will have to convince editors of the virtues of the final product, that seems fair to me?

Concerns about balance and neutrality, and opinions on style must not be neglected, indeed comments here on these should be welcomed, especially if expressed briefly (yes, I know I'm no model). But can we let Howard proceed without hindrance for a while, then when he pauses to ask others to take note, perhaps we can look again and see is there indeed a problem or whether his approach has worked?Gareth Leng 13:06, 19 May 2008 (CDT)

That certainly would be one approach. Part of my concern was that I literally didn't know how to proceed when the changes being made were not just alternate wording or challenges to accuracy, but having the basic structure and the organization changed. In such a situation, I was hesitant either to try to get it back to a structure that made enough sense to me so that I could use an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach to improvement.
Let's assume that we try that model for a while. As has been mentioned, there were political battles at That Other Place, which did lead to some sub-article content whose accuracy I questioned. I have downloaded, for example, some regional subarticles and am going through them to remove severe cases of unsourced conspiracy theory. Some of the language also is representative of compromise rather than fluency; there are sections, at this moment, that remind me of the platypus, that collection of random biological spare parts in close proximity.
I have some of these subarticles in a word processor. I might move them initially to sandbox pages, partially with the goal of finding related topical redlinks that need to be filled in for readability. In other cases, though, I absolutely, positively, want people with better knowledge of some of the detailed topics to jump in. For example, I have no real background with Latin America, and would be delighted to have someone else make improvements. On the geographic articles, I am much more familiar with Southeast Asia and parts of Africa and the Middle East. The transnational articles are in better shape, but I want to clean out some politicized material.
Do note that there already are some sub-articles, such as Director of Central Intelligence and CIA influence on public opinion. There have been reasonable suggesting about moving some of the organizational/oversight material one level down, into another article. The DCI article may be a target for trial moves.
I simply ask that the structure of the main article can remain reasonably intact, although I intend to do some fairly ruthless pruning into sub-articles; we can decide, with drafts in front of us, what should or should not be in the main article. Doing this also gives the opportunity to have parallel discussions on subtopics.
I would, however, pull out any content about operations that is now on the main page, although it certainly can be put in a working "operational summaries" article.
Howard C. Berkowitz 13:43, 19 May 2008 (CDT)
Yes definitely keep anything you remove, on a subpage or a new page, don't lose anything. Gareth Leng 12:09, 20 May 2008 (CDT)
Additional thought -- anyone who was involved in the Biology page, which sounds rather similar to my view, is extremely welcome to make structural notes. In particular, if anyone who was involved has an opinion, would it be consistent with what worked here to make the main CIA article, deliberately, more of an annotated links page to allow a better look at the "big picture"? In no way would that preclude moving substantive text back into it. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:46, 19 May 2008 (CDT)

Moving forward

I started edits by creating a background article on special security programs, compartmented control system. With this in place, I plan to pull the bulk of existing material on oversight and approval of operations into a separate article, linked from this page.

Next, I'm going to enhance the Director of Central Intelligence article and to minimize the references, on this page, to the effects of individual DCIs.

In principle, I think the various review commission reports can also move out of the main article. Since these are often entwined with the policies of specific DCIs, it may or may not be appropriate to move this information to the DCI article, and internally linking the director entries and review entries. Alternatively, that oversight information might be a completely separate (although cross-linked) article.

By extracting those sections, there will be less information on this page, although not in any way lost, and it will be easier to see the structure here. I do plan to move the operations summaries and "failures" out of the main article.

Ideally, I'd like to have subpages in place that cover the intelligence analysis and operations details. I have several in my word processor, where I am trying to edit out the more politicized and conspiratorial information from The Other Place. When I put out these articles (e.g., CIA activities in Asia-Pacific), I do not expect them to be absolutely comprehensive, and they may, indeed, contain errors. I would ask only that while editing them, that people preserve the structure and explain the changes on the appropriate talk pages.

Howard C. Berkowitz 12:41, 21 May 2008 (CDT)

I have moved the summaries of activity, with which I disagree, to User:Howard C. Berkowitz/Sandbox1, so the original structure is being restored and planned edits can be made. As I mentioned above, I'm still thinking about the best placement of the oversight material.
In addition, I am going to move the "failures" section to User:Howard C. Berkowitz/Sandbox2. Some of this material should probably be deleted. The Angleton material probably deserves its own article; comments are welcome on a title and scope for that material and some of the real penetrations. Some discussion of the Philby case and its effect on Anglo-American intelligence relationships might go there as well. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:12, 21 May 2008 (CDT)
I thought we all agreed that massive removals of material without explanation is a poor idea. I think If Howard replaces my material we can have a serious discussion about any point he seems to think needs revised. Some of the items removed--like the entire section on Soviet estimates--are fully referenced, highly relevant, and non-controversial. Richard Jensen 21:22, 21 May 2008 (CDT)
Please understand what I am doing, which I thought was as an interim step at Gareth's suggestion, 'Gareth Leng 13:06, 19 May 2008 (CDT) Nothing has been permanently deleted; I carefully put it in sandbox pages. The purpose of doing that was to be able to restore, at least, the structure of what I originally put here, before you started massive revisions, without explanation, in under 24 hours of its being posted. I note, regretfully, that you tore out text and didn't put it on the talk page, or temporary pages.
I am perfectly willing to discuss substance, as well as writing style. Nevertheless, I would expect the courtesy of leaving the basic outline in place such that text can go back into the article, or into appropriate subarticles.
We have a substantive disagreement about how much operational history should be in the main article. I believe you have said that you think the article should be self-contained. I absolutely disagree, since this is a medium that supports easy linking to subpages, and the whole emphasis on subpages and clusters is a major and positive difference between CZ and That Other Place.
I repeat: nothing has been lost. I specifically announced where I put it and what I was doing. There was an opportunity to comment before I moved anything, but your first response is the complaint here.
In some cases, I may differ with some of the material as to what I consider the presentation style, rather than the substantive facts. "Mastermind" is not a neutral word. I found it interesting that you stated, without sourcing, that Dulles spent 80% of his budget on a specific goal. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:45, 21 May 2008 (CDT)
Let's put the material back and discuss it. If you have objections about particular words ("mastermind" say) please tell what they are. Most people will only read one CIA article and this has to be it., If they find too little information they will NOT go searching through dozens of linked pages--they will give up on CZ and turn to other encyclopedia like Encarta and EB. The younger generation has a short attention span and gets bored easily I fear. As for the place in the outline, I am very flexible--they can go in any part of the CIA article that you designate. I am glad you moved those reports, which are rather tedious to a user.Richard Jensen 23:58, 21 May 2008 (CDT)
I am willing to discuss the material. I am not willing to put it back in the article until it is discussed. The first thing to agree upon is the structure of the article, not Soviet estimates. Had you not pulled out and rearranged sections, we could have discussed in context. With your both changing headings and content, but doing so selectively, there was a serious loss of context -- and this wasn't a matter of a few sentences or a few headings.
Further, I disagree completely with the idea that someone interested in the subject will only read one article. The systematic use of subpages is a positive advantage of CZ over WP; insisting that articles have to be self-contained destroys that advantage. I hate to generalize about generations of any age. Grace Hopper was one of the youngest people I ever met, and I have known some very dull, boring, and unimaginative teenagers. I also have known teenagers that would ignore that some subject was supposed to be too complex for them, and who would study the prerequisites to the prerequisites to the prerequisites, in a nontraditional way, until they gained fluency. I did that myself, but I lose track of whether I was being mentored by Sir Francis Walsingham or by Charles Babbage.
I just reread the piece about "covert operations", and disagree with it both on style and substance. It is far too compressed to have any sense of the complexity of the operations, unless you want the "younger generation" to think the world works like a perverse mixture of Maxwell Smart and James Bond. Further, it starts off with the sentence Dulles devoted 80% of his much enlarged budget ($82 million) to covert (secret) operations to contain Communism.
I'd want to be very, very sure of my sourcing about that sentence. During Dulles' tenure, the budget total was buried, and the project allocations were even harder to find. Also, as an engineer with experience in the area, some of the technical collection systems that drew on his budget were enormously expected. Without knowing precisely what you mean by sovert operations and where tens of millions were spent, I do not find that credible, merely sensational.
That entire paragraph jumps from topic to topic, in a disconnected way, often with a sentence per idea. Your hypothetical younger generation would come away more ignorant, not more informed, on matters vitally relevant today -- you give the 1953 operation in Iran part of a sentence, but the Mossadegh coup is still a major influence on Iranian-American relations.
I am simply not willing to agree to one-paragraph summaries of operations, with no context of estimative intelligence, and an apparent unwillingness to write it as a clear but non-sensational, unemotional set of links to more detailed subpages. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:33, 22 May 2008 (CDT)
Howard seems to be new to CZ--and does not appreciate the basic principle that he does not "own" or control a major article, and does not have veto power that allows him to erase chunks of material. As for the one point he makes about budgets, the covert budget was 70-80% of the CIA budget in 1952, and rising, when Dulles took over in 1953. see the standard history by Theoharis. At a deeper level, Howard seems to reject the basic principle that encyclopedias are able to briefly summarize complex material. The subpages he prepared on the CIA operations in Asia, for example, are a hodge-podge of snippets taken from primary sources written at the time, and summaries of popular magazine articles written decades age, and do not include sophisticated treatments written by historians. That is the formula for poor quality history.Richard Jensen 01:05, 22 May 2008 (CDT)

Courtesy

Again, Richard, you seem to wish to interpret my motives, claiming to know them better than I do. It is hardly "owning" an article to put up an initial draft -- yes, a draft -- and reasonably expect to discuss, in a collegial way, the reasons that structure was prepared in the manner it was. Instead, you immediately tore it apart without a hello.

You are making generic comments about my ideas about encyclopedias, and announcing my poor scholarship regarding the Asia-Pacific material. Unfortunately, I suppose "real historians", as you loftily describe yourself, do not bother to ask questions before indulging in the favorite indoor spot of leaping to conclusions. I did not and do not claim to have written all the material in the Asia-Pacific article. Indeed, it was disgust at the politicization at Wikipedia that I took it over here, with the intention of improvement.

Perhaps "assume good faith" is a WP term not accepted here, but I see very little in you. Constable attention, please. I'm tired of personal attacks and condescension, rather than discussion. No author here, including yourself and myself, cannot improve. It seemed most discourteous, in the midst of controversy, to go off and edit your work. I'll merely note that I chose to be constructive; where you left a placeholder for the significance of radar in the Second World War, I wrote a first cut on a radar article.

Is there a constable in the house? Howard C. Berkowitz 01:21, 22 May 2008 (CDT)

Constable assessment

I don't see anything actionable as far as behavior on this page, though it is obvious that there is some frustration as there is disagreement. Thank you for not reverting to unprofessional behavior. I know that sometimes it can feel like you are being treated badly, but I see valid concerns on both sides that are being worked out among knowledgeable editors. However, there is a dispute resolution process that is currently in effect that suggests Howard be allowed to proceed without interference. The question of deleted text without discussion is now a content issue as it has been discussed and you are both editors, therefore constables cannot act on this matter. With this dispute resolution suggestion inplace, I do not see Howard as outside his authority to proceed as he is doing, especially as he is doing a good job discussing his intentions. Currently, I have no authority to enforce dispute resolution suggestions, that may or may not be something the community wants to consider. My only purpose is to monitor the behavior of it's participants. If there is a problem with the suggested dispute resolution process, take it up with the dispute resolution officer, which in this case is User Talk:Gareth Leng. My only suggestion would be to be patient as this process is being refined, so feel glad to be a part of something that will eventually lead to better collaboration and a better product. D. Matt Innis 08:56, 22 May 2008 (CDT)

notes

  1. For a taste of the literature see google books linked here
  2. Churchill, Winston (2005). The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0141441739. 

Methodological point

It may be obvious to some, but I wanted to make one aspect of my methodology clear. In an article such as this, I am not writing about "U.S. foreign policy with country Foo". I am writing about the specifics, typically within a specific time period, about "CIA activities concerning country Foo."

That is one reason that primary intelligence documents are highly relevant here, where they might indeed be less preferable when talking about general foreign policy. The primary documents often pose questions and sometimes give answers about whether there was intelligence, right or wrong, that led to some close-in-time decision at a high level. They often pose the question of whether a given covert operation was ordered or approved at the White House (and/or some oversight group of the National Security Council), the proposed rationale for the action, whether the outcome was the desired one, and if there were unforeseen consequences. Now, if the hypothetical member of the "younger generation" isn't really interested in the CIA process, they should be looking at an article on U.S. foreign policy with Foo. If that person understands that the intelligence organizations are a subset of foreign policy, she or he is in the right place.

Let me take one sequence of events, deliberately not naming the specific country. The example deals with a scenario in which the U.S. had attempted to assist dissidents, some years previously, in overthrowing the government in question; that attempt failed.

The intelligence analysts were asked to produce estimates on how the several leadership groups in Country X would react toward their head of state becoming closer to the Soviet Union, an outcome the U.S. saw as undesirable. The analysts suggested the military, among other groups, was likely to stay neutral, even if the U.S. covertly subsidized some mainstream but opposition politicians. As a consequence, a proposal to do so was constructed, and properly approved by the relevant oversight organization. Support was provided to the relevant organization, with no apparent attempt in regime change, only an attempt to be sure that the (US-friendly, or at least anti-Communist) opposition continued to be heard.

These observations do come from primary documents: declassified CIA and intelligence community-wide reporting. As things happened, a completely unforeseen outcome took place, but, going back to the analysis, due to a third-party action that had not been considered. While the analysis concluded the military would stay neutral, the assumption was that the military would not be challenged. In this case, a different internal political actor attacked the military and killed several senior officers. The military of country X responded with extreme violence toward this actor, but with no apparent connection to the covert political action. The actual outcome, which was reported, was not the one the CIA or its oversight panel had anticipated, had serious human rights concern, but was geopolitically to the U.S. advantage.

It's actually easier and more compact to write this less hypothetically and with the actual names. Nevertheless, it reflected knee-jerk anticommunism of the period, but also involved at least 3-4 actors in the country. To understand what happened is going to take 2-3 paragraphs, plus any relevant document quotes.

It would be a disservice to say "CIA tried to overthrow X, failed, later tried to subsidize opposition just to get the head of state to move a little away from Moscow, and he did so as a result of the coup." It is relevant to ask if there were CIA failures here. A very brief summation might suggest the coup was triggered by the political subsidy, but, on closer analysis, it seems to have been triggered by a quite different event.

So, if one writes about "good history", one must constantly keep in mind "history of what"? The history of CIA activities at a given time, of the internal actions of the relevant country, and overall U.S. foreign policy toward that state are three related, but different things. I would encourage other authors to write about the more general issues, which may be what the Representative of the Younger Generation wants. With the methodology I am using here, I am addressing only the first point, but would very much like it if this deliberately narrow scope could have a link to an issue with a broader view of Country X history and/or US National Policy towards X.

Howard C. Berkowitz 09:32, 22 May 2008 (CDT)

Newly released material

News stories say the CIA have just de-classified and released a lot of material, notably photos of various James Bond type gadgets they have used over the years. [1] Sandy Harris 12:08, 23 February 2011 (UTC)