United States intelligence community oversight

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

The fundamental decisions to do covert actions, and risky clandestine intelligence collection, are in a committee at White House level, although sometimes the decisions are made by the President and a very small number of advisors.

In principle, there is a current requirement to notify the Congress of certain operations, although the nature of the notification varies with the sensitivity of the project. For the most sensitive, typically eight members are briefed, without staff and without being allowed to take notes. In contrast, the Executive Branch uses experts in planning the proposal.

This has certainly not been the case in the past, when there was no Congressional notification, indeed sometimes with senior Congressional leaders saying they did not want to know.

Oversight and Approval

While the law is a little vague, the Executive Branch holds it needs to keep Congress informed, rather than obtain its permission. Congress however, can refuse to appropriate the basic budget, and this actually is being threatened. In an opinion column, Robert Novak wrote that "CIA refusal to reveal what it knows about the Sept. 6, 2007 Israeli bombing of a facility in Syria. Only chairmen and ranking minority members of the Intelligence committees, plus members of the congressional leadership, have been briefed. Other members of Congress, including Intelligence Committee members, were excluded. The Intelligence authorization bill, passed by the House and awaiting final action in the Senate, blocks most of the CIA's funding "until each member of the Congressional Intelligence committees has been fully informed with respect to intelligence" about the Syria bombing." [1] Novak, however, did not indicate if the CIA was unilaterally withholding information, or if they were under orders from the Director of National Intelligence, National Security Council, or President.

In principle, Congress could pass, with a veto-proof supermajority, legislation to cut off funding on a specific project, which is more or less what led to Iran-Contra after Congress passed the Boland Amendment that money could not be committed to that purpose. This is one of those areas where the Presidential and Congressional intent is as important, constitutionally, as the covert action itself.

Effect of political climate on action decisions

Many of the covert operations, from 1945, at least through Vietnam, were based on an internal government assumption that Communism had to be stopped at all costs, including violations of human rights and national sovereignty. Whether or not this belief is now considered correct, it must be remembered, in terms of the orders given to the CIA, that it was in the minds of the policymakers that authorized actions.

Competing Demands

When a hot war is in progress, there are often competing demands between the needs of forces in the field and strategic intelligence. In the Korean War, for example, the pre-CIA OSO clandestine collectors' mission was a battleground between the Army tactical information requirements and the need for more global information (e.g., what were the Chinese and Soviets planning?).

Indirectly, this sort of conflict affects covert operations, if the tactical needs of intelligence collection have the covert operations somewhat in the dark. A good example coming from initially covert Direct Action (DA) mission was the POW rescue mission on the Son Tay prison camp. There was some intelligence indicating the POWs had been moved and the facility was empty, but the information was not confirmed and got to the strike force late. Complicating the issue were White House and Pentagon decisions that even if there were no prisoners, having the North Vietnamese know they were vulnerable to DA missions would divert their attention and resources. One could compare this with the effects, unknown to the US at the time, of the early 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, which did minimal damage but caused an overreaction on the Japanese side, bringing air defense back to the homeland, and then making an ill-advised attempt to extend their eastern defense line with the Battle of Midway.

When Security Hinders

Congress, especially Congressional staff, have constantly had problems in gaining access to highly classified intelligence-related information. For the most sensitive operations, there is essentially are compartmented control systems parallel to, or perhaps above the regular security clearance system

Authority to approve operations

See also: Unitary executive theory

Since 1954, oversight of United States, high-risk clandestine intelligence collection and covert action has been carried out by a series of sub-committees of the U.S. National Security Council. Before that time, the process rarely involved more than conversation at a National Security Council meeting. It is likely that in the 1947-1952 period, before the DCI brought the OPC and OSI under his firm control, that there well may have been some operations approved at no higher level than Director of OPC.

While some activities definitely happened without oversight, the initiative for many, such as assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and actions against Salvador Allende of Chile were initiated at the White House. Other operations were proposed by CIA personnel, but moved forward only after higher-level approval.

Planning Coordination Group

The Planning Coordination Group was created by President Eisenhower's Presidential Directive 5412/1 on 15 March 1954.[2] The group, initially, was headed by Special Assistant to the President for Foreign Affairs, Nelson Rockefeller.

Eisenhower opposed regular Congressional review. After the U-2 Incident in May 1960, he r discussed the 1960 U-2 incident with senior Congressional leaders, but made it clear that the operational decision had been made on his personal authority, and he did not want deep Congressional investigation into intelligence activities. When Sen. Mike Mansfield asked "What would the President think if there were to be established in the Congress a joint Congressional Committee which would oversee the activities of the CIA? The President responded that his own feeling was that the operation of the CIA was so delicate and so secret in many cases that it must be kept under cover, and that the Executive must be held responsible for it. He said that he would agree to some bipartisan group going down occasionally and receiving reports from the CIA on their activities, but that he would hate to see it formalized--indeed would be against the proposal made by Senator Mansfield.

Senator Richard Russell supported the President in this viewpoint and said that they do have a Congressional group that periodically went over reports. He said that they knew the U - 2 planes were under construction a long time ago. The Senator added that he was not afraid of the Senators on security matters but that he was afraid of staff leaks.[3]

NSC 5412/2 Special Group

The NSC 5412/2 Special Group, often referred simply as the Special Group, was an initially secret, but later acknowledged, subcommittee of the National Security Council responsible for coordinating government covert operations. Presidential Directive NSC 5412/2, issued December 28th 1954, assigned responsibility for co-ordination of covert actions to representatives of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the President respectively. [4]

A National Security Archive chronology of the Bay of Pigs Invasion indicates a membership in December 1960 of DCI Allen Dulles, Chairman of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Gordon Gray, National Security Advisor; James Douglas, Acting Secretary of Defense; and Livingston T. Merchant, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.[5]

303 Committee

The covert actions oversight group was renamed the 303 Committee after National Security Action Memorandum No. 303 of 2 June 1964. McGeorge Bundy, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, became Chairman for the committee.

The successor to the Special Group was the 40 Committee. [6]

40 Committee

The 40 Committee was a committee of the National Security Council whose mandate was to review proposed major covert actions. In 1970 the 40 Committee approved "Track I" efforts to prevent Salvador Allende from taking office following the Chilean presidential election of 1970, and then to remove him from office. See CIA activities in Chile.

Operations Advisory Group

On February 18, 1976, 40 committee was replaced by the Operations Advisory Group, in accordance with Executive Order 11905 issued by Gerald Ford. The new group was composed of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence.[7]

NSC Special Coordination Committee

The following year, on May 13, 1977 President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 11985 which updated the previous order such that the Operations Advisory Group thereafter would be known as the NSC Special Coordination Committee[8]

National Security Planning Group

Under the Reagan administration, the Special Coordination Committee was replaced by the National Security Planning Group which included the Vice-President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and the Director of Central Intelligence.[9]

Impact of Directors and Management Styles

See Director of Central Intelligence for insights into the politics and management styles and actions associated with each director. Some general observations are in order.

For example, three directors, Dulles, Helms and Colby, came through the ranks, counting OSS. Dulles and Helms were clandestine intelligence collectors, while Colby was on the covert action side. Casey was not a career officer, but did have field experience, as he was an OSS clandestine intelligence officer running the penetrations into Germany, but didn't stay in CIA, and came to the directorship through a political path. I believe that the OSS/CIA experience of these people affected how they ran things.

Smith is significant in that he was able to force the disparate operations groups into firm CIA control. Given he was Eisenhower's WWII Chief of Staff, he presumably enjoyed a Presidential trust that few other DCIs had.

Turner and Schlesinger were disastrous to morale, and probably caused the loss of a good deal of human-source intelligence corporate knowledge. Turner did have the advantage of being a classmate of Jimmy Carter's and enjoyed his trust.

McCone is often considered one of the best DCIs, who was a manager and engineer, not at all an intelligence specialist. It's also significant that he had a close relationship with JFK, but left because he and LBJ didn't trust one another. It has been speculated that had he been in office during Vietnam, there might have been much more realistic planning.

A counterexample Raborn, a very smart man in other contexts who was completely clueless when it came to intelligence. There are lessons from Raborn, Schlesinger, Turner, and, in a very different way, Dulles, about characteristics you do not want in a DCI.

Congressional Oversight and Authority

Congress has, in principle, some level of authority over military operations, clandestine intelligence collection, covert action (at least by the CIA, if not by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)), and intelligence analysis. It exerts authority through approving budgets and authorizing the use of funds. It can also pass nonbinding resolutions of Congressional intent. Both of these areas have had little effect under the unitary executive theory that intelligence operations are a matter of presidential authority, a position strongly held by Dwight D. Eisenhower [3], and also a position of the George W. Bush Administration.


The intelligence budget, for which the total is beginning to be reported, is divided between

  1. the National Intelligence Program (NIP; formerly the National Foreign Intelligence Program or NFIP)
  2. the Military Intelligence Program (MIP).

There are various reporting mechanisms where a small military unit might run into something of national importance, and need to pass it up the chain of command. Marking material PINNACLE OPREP-3 and putting it into the general communications system is one way to do that.

Moving information in the other direction is a program called Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP), which allows military units to access information generally considered of national interest alone. A good example was using the missile launch detection satellites, intended to warn the US of a Soviet strike, to give fast warning of SCUD launches in Iraq. There are cases, however, where the operating military forces made use of CIA data.

The MIP was established in September 2005 and includes all programs from the former Joint Military Intelligence Program (JMIP), which encompassed DOD-wide intelligence programs (i.e., organizations like NSA, DIA, NRO, and NGA, which are part of the intelligence community but also part of the United States Department of Defense, and most programs from the former Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (TIARA) category, which encompassed intelligence programs supporting the operating units of the armed services. The Program Executive for the MIP is the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. [10]

Only a small part of the intelligence budget is made public; the bulk of the $40 billion that media reporting associates with overall intelligence spending is “hidden” within the DOD budget. Spending for most intelligence programs is described in classified annexes to intelligence and national defense authorization and appropriations legislation. (Members of Congress have access to these annexes, but must make special arrangements to read them.)[10]

For a number of years some Members have sought to make public total amounts of intelligence and intelligence-related spending In March 1998, Tenet announced that the FY1998 figure was $26.7 billion.

The Implementing Recommendations of the 9-11 Commission Act of 2007, requires that the DNI publicly disclose the aggregate amount of funds appropriated for the NIP Jurisdiction over intelligence programs is somewhat different in the House and the Senate. The Senate Intelligence Committee has jurisdiction only over the NIP but not the MIP, whereas the House Intelligence Committee has jurisdiction over both sets of programs. The preponderance of intelligence spending is accomplished by intelligence agencies within DOD and thus in both chambers the armed services committees are involved in the oversight process. Other oversight committees are responsible for intelligence agencies that are part of departments other than DOD.

To improve financial control of intelligence, the Council on Foreign Relations proposed a "market constraint" on consumers of intelligence, in which they could only get a certain amount of intelligence from the intelligence community, before they had to provide additional funding.[11] A different constraint would be that an agency, to get information on a new topic, must agree to stop or reduce coverage on something currently being monitored for it. Even with this consumer-oriented model, the intelligence community itself needs to have a certain amount of resources that it can direct itself, for building basic intelligence and identifying unusual threats.

"It is important that intelligence officers involved in articulating requirements represent both analysts and collectors, including those from the clandestine side. In addition, collection should be affected by the needs of policymakers and operators. All of this argues strongly against any organizational reforms that would isolate the collection agencies further or increase their autonomy. [11]

Especially in nations with advanced technical sensors, there is an interaction between budgeting and technology. For example, the US has tended, in recent years, to use billion-dollar SIGINT satellites, where France has used "swarms" of "microsatellites". The quantity versus quality battle is as evident in intelligence technology as in weapons systems. The US has also fought a battle of stovepiping, in which SIGINT and IMINT satellites, in a given orbit, were launched by different agencies.

Currently and historically, less than a tenth of what the United States spends on intelligence is devoted to analysis; it is the least expensive dimension of intelligence. Not all duplication is wasteful.[11] This has been a continuing issue with bomb damage assessment, going back to the beginnings of aerial bombardment. Even with considerably improved sensors in 1991, it remains a problem, and, as with the Vietnam case, there tended to be increasingly more pessimistic analyses in the theater command, the Department of Defense, and the CIA.


There is a problem with things that are both sensitive and technical, which is more likely to involve clandestine intelligence collection than covert action,another reason not to think of the CIA as an agency that only does covert action. This is also a matter where things get confusing between the CIA proper and the Intelligence Community.

Restructuring in the Intelligence Community

Long before the Director of National Intelligence was put in nominal charge, there were turf wars within the U.S. intelligence community. Some programs, however, were not under effective oversight.

At one time, before the NGA had been created, CIA and the military jointly ran the National Reconnaissance Office, in charge of the launching and operation of satellites. The next generation of reconnaissance satellites, under the name Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), ran into a multibillion dollar overrun, because the contractor was trying to do something beyond the state of the art. The FIA was discussed in public, so it presumably was an Acknowledged program that the committee staff and consultants could discuss.

The George W. Bush Administration NSA telephone surveillance program, however, is one of the blackest of black programs, and has not been reviewed by other than the "Big 8" members, none of whom have a relevant technical background. Nevertheless, earlier domestic surveillance, such as Project MINARET and SHAMROCK, were also under minimal oversight, sometimes when legislators explicitly said they did not want details.

Actually reading intelligence documents

Yet another issue, not one of approval but interpretation, is whether the Executive Branch had adequately evaluated the intelligence the George W. Bush Administration had used to justify the very overt action, as the Iraq War.

Paul Pillar, a controversial CIA analytic officer and now an academic, observed "Intelligence affects the nation's interests through its effect on policy. No matter how much the process of intelligence gathering itself is fixed, the changes will do no good if the role of intelligence in the policymaking process is not also addressed.... But a few steps, based on the recognition that the intelligence-policy relationship is indeed broken, could reduce the likelihood that such a breakdown will recur.[12] Pillar, whose views are not universally shared among advocates of oversight, sees the British approach as a model. It is U.K. policy that its intelligence services are not to be matters of public debate. At the same time, the U.K. Government takes serious political responsibility for inappropriate politicization, a serious step in a parliamentary system. "In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair accepted a commission of inquiry's conclusions that intelligence and policy had been improperly commingled in such exercises as the publication of the "dodgy dossier," the British counterpart to the United States' Iraqi WMD white paper." Pillar suggested the equivalent U.S. approach could be "congressional resolution and be seconded by a statement from the White House, a process that could discourage future administrations from politicize intelligence analyses to support a preconceived policy. It would also give some leverage to intelligence officers in resisting any such future attempts." He assumes that the White House and Congress will cooperate, and that a resolution in the U.S. system would have the force of an action that could cause the fall of a parliamentary government.

"The proper relationship between intelligence gathering and policymaking sharply separates the two functions....Congress, not the administration, asked for the now-infamous October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's unconventional weapons programs, although few members of Congress actually read it. (According to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material, no more than six senators and only a handful of House members got beyond the five-page executive summary.) As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community's assessments regarding Iraq; the first request I received from any administration policymaker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war.

While oversight should come from Congress, Pillar recommends the creation of a "nonpartisan office modeled on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Such an office would have a staff, smaller than that of the GAO or the CBO, of officers experienced in intelligence and with the necessary clearances and access to examine questions about both the politicization of classified intelligence work and the public use of intelligence. As with the GAO, this office could conduct inquiries at the request of members of Congress. It would make its results public as much as possible, consistent with security requirements, and it would avoid duplicating the many other functions of intelligence oversight, which would remain the responsibility of the House and Senate intelligence committees."

Just as the General Accountability Office (GAO) does not duplicate the size of the Executive Branch in order to audit it, an intelligence analysis office reporting to the Congress need not duplicate the intelligence community (IC). Its personnel would need all-source intelligence clearances, and, in many cases, the experts might have gained some of their knowledge while working in the IC.

Independent government reviews

Several investigations (e.g., Church Committee, Rockefeller Commission, Pike Committee), as well as released declassified documents, reveal that the CIA, at times, operated outside its charter. In some cases, such as during Watergate, this may have been due to inappropriate requests by White House staff. In other cases, there was a violation of Congressional intent, such as the Iran-Contra affair.

1949 Eberstadt Report (First Hoover Commission)

The first major analysis, following the National Security Act of 1947, was chaired by former President Herbert Hoover, with a Task Force on National Security Organization under Ferdinand Eberstadt, one of the drafters of the National Security Act and a believer in centralized intelligence.

The task force concluded that the system of the day led to an adversarial relationship, with little effective coordination, among the CIA, the military, and the State Department. "In the opinion of the task force, this produced duplication on one hand, and, on the other, departmental intelligence estimates that "have often been subjective and biased." In large measure, the military and State Department were blamed for their failure to consult and share pertinent information with the CIA. The task force recommended "that positive efforts be made to foster relations of mutual confidence between the [CIA] and the several departments and agencies that it serves."

This report stressed that the CIA "must be the central organization of the national intelligence system." It recommended a "...top echelon [of] an evaluation board or section composed of competent and experienced personnel who would have no administrative responsibilities and whose duties would be confined solely to intelligence evaluation." It also favored a civilian DCI with a long term in office.

In operations, the report recommended consolidation of OPC and OSO into CIA, with NSC supervision. The authors agreed that the authority over such operations should transfer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in wartime.

The report declared that the failure to appraise scientific advances (e.g., biological and chemical warfare, electronics, aerodynamics, guided missiles, atomic weapons, and nuclear energy) in hostile countries might have more immediate and catastrophic consequences than failure in any other field of intelligence. It urged the US to develop a centralized capability for tracking these developments.

1949 Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report

The Eberstadt report was soon eclipsed by what may have been the most influential policy paper. "On January 8, 1948, the National Security Council established the Intelligence Survey Group (ISG) to "evaluate the CIA's effort and its relationship with other agencies."[13]The Jackson-Dulles-Correa report held an opposite view on clandestine collection to the Eberstadt Report, interesting in that Dulles was a clandestine collection specialist.

The authors were Allen W. Dulles, who had served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War and would become DCI in 1953, William Jackson, a future Deputy DCI, and Matthias Correa, a former assistant to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal when the latter had served as Secretary of the Navy during the war. Chaired by Dulles, the ISG presented its findings to the National Security Council on 1 January 1949. Partially declassified in 1976, it "contained fifty-six recommendations, many highly critical of the CIA and DCI. In particular, the report revealed problems in the agency's execution of both its intelligence and operational missions. It also criticized the quality of national intelligence estimates by highlighting the CIA's--and, by implication, the DCI's--"failure to take charge of the production of coordinated national estimates." The report went on to argue that the CIA's current trend in clandestine intelligence activities should be reversed in favor of its mandated role as coordinator of intelligence." It was "particularly concerned about the personnel situation at CIA, including internal security, the high turnover of employees, and the excessive number of military personnel assigned to the agency." See the continuing concern about personnel in the 1954 Doolittle Report To add "continuity of service" and the "greatest assurance of independence of action," the report argued that the DCI should be a civilian and that military appointees be required to resign their commissions.

Both the Eberstadt and Dulles-Jackson-Correa Reports also saw inadequacies in scientific intelligence and in the service intelligence organizations, and urged that the CIA provide greater coordination. This led to a recommendation for increased coordination between the DCI and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the arena of counterespionage. In turn, the report recommended that the Director of FBI be elevated to membership in the committee to help the DCI coordinate intelligence and set intelligence requirements.

The report proposed a large-scale reorganization of CIA. Even though it emphasized intelligence analysis and coordination over operations, like the Eberhardt Report, it recommended bringing OPC and OSO into CIA. While the proposed directorates were not the same as came to pass, a four-directorate structure was proposed, with units for coordination, estimates, intelligence analysis and operations. The heads of the new offices would be included in the immediate staff of the DCI so that he would have "intimate contact with the day-to-day operations of his agency and be able to give policy guidance to them."

Until the DNI creation, estimates were in a separate office reporting to the DCI, coordination was a job of the DDCI (later assisted by the Intelligence Community Staff), research and reports became the Directorate of Intelligence, and operations was first, euphemistically, called the Directorate of Plans. Directorates for Support (originally called Administration), and Science & Technology, were also created.

1954 Doolittle Report on Covert Activities

Gen. James Doolittle did an extensive report on covert actions, specifically for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.[14]

The report's first recommendation dealt with personnel. It recommended releasing a large number of current staff that could never be more than mediocre, aggressively recruit new staff with an overall goal of increasing the workforce, and intensify training, with 10% of the covert staff time spent in training. The Director should be nonpolitical.

Security was the next concern, starting with strengthening security clearance procedures, Counterespionage, and field reporting and inspection.

Coordination in the intelligence community was seen as a problem, especially agreeing on clear understandings between CIA and military intelligence organizations. The overall IC program for eliciting information from defectors needed improvement, with contributions from multiple agencies.

As far as organization and management, the report described the structure of the Directorate of Plans (i.e., the clandestine service) as too complex and in need of simplification. The Inspector General needed an agency-wide mandate. The role of the Operations Coordinating Board, the covert and clandestine oversight staff of the National Security Council needed to be strengthened, with operations clearly approved and guided from the highest levels of government.

The report addressed the classic problem of increasing performance while reducing costs. This meant better review of the budgets of covert and clandestine activities by a Review Board, except for the most sensitive operations. It meant providing the Comptroller with enough information, even if sanitized, to do a thorough job.

1956 Bruce-Lovett Report

In his biography of the late Robert Kennedy, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in briefly discussed a report he said was located in the Kennedy papers. There is no such report in the Kennedy papers, the CIA archives, the National Archives, the Eisenhower Library or other likely archives, and no documentation exists that an actual report ever existed. Schlesinger said that soon after President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Actitivites, that Board requested that Robert Lovett and David K.E. Bruce examine CIA's covert operations.[15]. This information comes from Arthur Schlesinger's book about Robert F. Kennedy, cited by cryptome.org. ""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.""

Schlesinger went on to argue that, "The 1956 report, written in Bruce's spirited style, condemned

the increased mingling in the internal affairs of other nations of bright, highly graded young men who must be doing something all the time to justify their reason for being.... Busy, moneyed, and privileged [the CIA] likes its "King Making" responsibility (the intrigue is fascinating -- considerable self-satisfaction, sometimes with applause, derives from "successes" -- no charge is made for "failures" -- and the whole business is very much simpler than collecting covert intelligence on the USSR through the usual CIA methods!).

According to cryptome's account of the Schlesinger book, "Bruce and Lovett could discover no reliable system of control. "there are always, of course, on record the twin, well-born purpose of 'frustrating the Soviets' and keeping others 'pro-western' oriented. Under these almost any [covert] action can be and is being justified.... Once having been conceived, the final approval given to any project (at informal lunch meetings of the OCB [Operations Coordinating Board] inner group) can, at best, be described as pro forma." One consequence was that "no one, other than those in the CIA immediately concerned with their day to day operation, has any detailed knowledge of what is going on." With "a horde of CIA representatives" swarming around the planet, CIA covert action was exerting "significant, almost unilateral influences... on the actual formulation of our foreign policies... sometimes completely unknown" to the local American ambassador." Bruce and Lovett concluded with an plea about taking control of covert operations and their consequences:

Should not someone, somewhere in an authoritative position in our government, on a continuing basis, be... calculating... the long-range wisdom of activities which have entailed a virtual abandonment of the international "golden rule," and which, if successful to the degree claimed for them, are responsible in a great measure for stirring up the turmoil and raising the doubts about us that exist in many countries of the world today?... Where will we be tomorrow? "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....

The CIA itself would like more detail on this so-called report, a copy of which could not be found, in 1995, by the Agency's History Staff.[16] Referring to reports such as the Dulles-Jackson-Correa, Doolittle, Pike, Church, and Rockefeller reports, the Staff "recently ran across a reference to another item, the so-called "Bruce-Lovett" report, that it would very much like to read--if we could find it! The report is mentioned in Peter Grose's recent biography Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles. According to Grose, [Bruce and Lovett] prepared a report for President Dwight Eisenhower in the fall of 1956 that criticized CIA's alleged fascination with "kingmaking" in the Third World and complained that a "horde of CIA representatives" was mounting foreign political intrigues at the expense of gathering hard intelligence on the Soviet Union.

The History Staff checked the CIA files on the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities (PBCFIA). They checked with the Eisenhower Library. They checked with the National Archives, which holds the PBCFIA records. They checked with the Virginia Historical Society, the custodian of David Bruce's papers. None had a copy.

"Having reached a dead end, we consulted the author of the Dulles biography, Peter Grose. Grose told us that he had not seen the report itself but had used notes made from it by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger for Robert F. Kennedy and His Times (1978). Professor Schlesinger informed us that that he had seen the report in Robert Kennedy's papers before they were deposited at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. He had loaned Grose his notes and does not have a copy of these notes or of the report itself.

"This raises an interesting question: how did a report on the CIA written for President Eisenhower in 1956 end up in the RFK papers? We think we have the answer. Robert Lovett was asked to testify before Gen. Maxwell Taylor's board of inquiry on the 1961 Bay of Pigs operation. Robert Kennedy was on that board and may have asked Lovett for a copy of the report. But we do not have the answer to another question: where is the "Bruce-Lovett" report? The JFK Presidential Library has searched the RFK papers without success. Surely the report will turn up some day, even if one government agency and four separate archives so far haven't been able to find it. But this episode helps to prove one of the few Iron Laws of History: the official who keeps the best records gets to tell the story."

Schlesinger himself said the "report" had no influence on the CIA or on Eisenhower at the time; indeed no one at the time ever mentioned it.

1975 investigations

The 1975 United States Commission on CIA activities within the United States, better known as the Rockefeller Commission investigated questionable practices including assassination attempts and inappropriate domestic operations. Larger Congressional investigations followed in 1975. Eventually, these interim committees were replaced by the Senate and House permanent intelligence committees.

1996 reports

In 1996, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a congressional report estimating that: "Hundreds of employees on a daily basis are directed to break extremely serious laws in countries around the world in the face of frequently sophisticated efforts by foreign governments to catch them. A safe estimate is that several hundred times every day (easily 100,000 times a year) DO officers engage in highly illegal activities (according to foreign law) that not only risk political embarrassment to the US but also endanger the freedom if not lives of the participating foreign nationals and, more than occasionally, of the clandestine officer himself."[17]

In the same document, the committee wrote, "Considering these facts and recent history, which has shown that the [Director of the Central Intelligence Agency], whether he wants to or not, is held accountable for overseeing the [Clandestine Service], the DCI must work closely with the Director of the CS and hold him fully and directly responsible to him."[13]

2007 documents

On 27 June 2007, the CIA released two collections of previously classified documents which outlined various activities of doubtful legality. The first collection consists of almost 700 pages of responses from CIA employees to a 1973 directive from DCI James Schlesinger requesting information about activities inconsistent with the Agency's charter.[18]

The second collection, the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers, consists of 147 documents and 11,000 pages of research from 1953 to 1973 relating to Soviet and Chinese leadership hierarchies, and Sino-Soviet relations.[19]

Evaluation of intelligence quality

H. R. McMaster, a historian and active U.S. Army general, [20], suggests that Vietnam War intelligence and decisionmaking without looking at the controversy and manipulation of numbers by, variously, working-level CIA analysts, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, and the White House. [21]. That the intelligence organizations in the military command were more optimistic is unsurprising, and not even indicative of something being seriously wrong -- as long as there are independent intelligence organizations to cross-check. as well as a thorough reading of the Pentagon Papers. Working level analysts at CIA had some of the most realistic assessments of the situation, but they didn't agree with the preconceptions of Johnson and McNamara any more than realistic assessments of Iraq's WMD capability agreed with Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush.

See also: Double Cross System

In the Second World War, Germany believed what the Allies wanted them to believe, because their intelligence analysts depended overly on spies, who were actually controlled by the British Double-Cross system as part of a larger deception campaign under the London Controlling Staff. Even when intelligence professionals became convinced the Normandy invasion was the real Allied main effort, Hitler's "intuitions" could not be challenged.

See also: Office of Special Plans

There have been several efforts to take a nontraditional approach to intelligence analysis, considered appropriate use of ideological understanding by its proponents, and politicized analysis by its detractors. Abram Shulsky argues that a pure social science analytical model will not work when active deception is involved; he was one of the key individuals in the Office of Special Plans that developed outside-the-intelligence-community analysis for the George W. Bush Administration.


  1. Novak, Robert D. (December 26, 2007), "A Rogue CIA", CNSNews.com Commentary
  2. Miller, James E. (2001). Foreign Relations, 1964–1968 Volume XII. United States Government Printing Office. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dwight D. Eisenhower (26 May 1960), 154. Memorandum of Conversation: Bipartisan leaders breakfast with the President, "May - July 1960 : The U-2 Airplane Incident", Foreign Relations of the United States
  4. The Federation of American Scientists list of national security documents for the Eisenhower administration does not show a directive 5412/2. It does however show a 5412/1 with a classified title (one of only three such documents for the entire administration).
  5. Bay of Pigs: 40 Years After - Chronology. The National Security Archive.
  6. Covert Action in Chile: 1963–1973, United States Department of State
  7. Note on U.S. Covert Actions. United States Department of State.
  8. Executive Order 11985. Federation of American Scientists (May 13th, 1977).
  9. Loch K. Johnson. "Covert Action and Accountability: Decision-Making for America's Secret Foreign Policy", International Studies Quarterly, March 1989.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Best, Richard A. Jr. (October 19, 2007), "Intelligence Issues for Congress", CRS Reports for Congress
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Council on Foreign Relations, Making Intelligence Smarter: The Future of US Intelligence. Retrieved on 2007-10-21
  12. Paul Pillar (March/April 2006), "Intelligence, Policy,and the War in Iraq", Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 2007-10-30
  13. 13.0 13.1 Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House of Representatives, 104th Congress (2006-07-16), "IX. Clandestine Service", The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century,
  14. Doolittle, James (30 September 1954), Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency
  15. Robert Kennedy and His Times, 1978, at 454-458
  16. "The Elusive "Bruce-Lovett Report"", Center for the Study of Intelligence Newsletter, Spring 1995
  17. The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Per Year. www.thememoryhole.org (2006-07-16).
  18. Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold War, The New York Times, 2007-06-27.
  19. Central Intelligence Agency, CIA Releases Two Significant Collections of Historical Documents
  20. H. R. McMaster (1998). Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. Perennial. 
  21. Adams, Sam (1994). War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir. Steerforth Press. ISBN 188364223X.