The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 29

intelligence analysts and
diplomats to confront a
new, diffuse global threat
environment in which non-
state actors—including ter-
rorists, WMD proliferators
and cybercriminals—oper-
ated against U.S. interests
across national borders,
including our own.
The second revolution
marily information technology, but also the rapidly advancing
biological sciences, nanotechnology, material sciences, neuro-
science and robotics. We have moved in one generation from
an environment of information scarcity to information glut,
and into a world where the United States no longer dominates
technology R&D and is subject, more than ever, to technologi-
cal surprise. In the late 1970s, it took at least a week for me to
receive newspapers from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today, Washington analysts receive newspapers and media
reports often before the people in the country of interest.
Governments have less and less capacity to control infor-
mation flows, including social media. In recent years, the
Arab Spring in the Middle East and widespread protests in
Brazil and Turkey are cases in point. Meanwhile, international
organized crime groups, terrorists, narcotraffickers and pro-
liferators are taking advantage of such technology, bypassing
governments or seeking to undermine them to protect their
illegal activities.
The third revolution relates to
homeland security
, which
may not seem appropriate for the diplomat’s agenda but is.
Multiple federal agencies, state and local governments, and
“first responders” have a legitimate need for information
about threats that originate abroad, including human traffick-
ing, refugee flows, migration patterns and infectious diseases.
Looking ahead, diplomatic reporting will be expected to
advance our understanding of a growing number of such com-
plex issues in an increasingly interconnected world.
Responding to Change
From 1998 to 2001, as the first assistant director of central
intelligence for analysis and production, I chaired the National
Intelligence Production Board.
The NIPB, a working group spanning 11 agencies, including
the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research,
worked to bring ana-
lytic production into the
21st century. This meant
responding to both the
post–Cold War geopolitical
transformation and IT-
driven technology revolu-
tion that were producing
such churn in our work-
In 2000, the group pro-
The Strategic Invest-
ment Plan for Intelligence Community Analysis
2000-01), which recommended intelligence agencies invest
in recruitment and training, interagency collaboration, use of
external expertise and aggressive exploitation of open-source
information. These resources will help counter “a dispersed,
complex and ‘asymmetric’ threat assessment in which infor-
mation technology makes everything move faster.”
INR, then headed by Tom Fingar, was ably represented on
the NIPB panel by Chris Kojm, the future chair of the National
Intelligence Council. INR has always been one of the smallest
organizations in the intelligence community, but it punches
well above its weight. It makes up for small numbers in its
impressive analytic expertise and in its intimate connection to
State’s indispensable diplomatic reporting.
Yet I saw diplomatic reporting as undervalued within the
State Department—and even more so on the Hill. State lacked
strong legislative advocates, even at a time of growing global
threats to national security. The failure to adequately fund the
department was a blow to all the agencies that relied on diplo-
matic reporting, including mine.
Critics have asserted that while U.S. diplomatic reporting
has a rich and noble tradition in our country, it has suffered
from the advent of the Internet and easy access to valuable
open-source information. Policymakers, the argument went,
could now mine the Web for the country-specific information
they needed and make direct contact with official counterparts
and other valuable foreign sources—all in real time. Embassy
political and economic officers, who generally rejected this
line, could now be directed to reduce their substantive report-
ing activities and take on more of the embassy’s operational
duties such as managing congressional delegations.
This critique, which exaggerated both the vulnerability of
diplomatic reporting and the potential of the Internet, had
surface appeal for a time. Experienced FSOs and government
INRmakes up for small
numbers in its impressive
analytic expertise and in its
intimate connection to State’s
indispensable diplomatic
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