Regulating U.S. Intelligence Operations: A Study in Definition of the National Interest

Regulating U.S. Intelligence Operations: A Study in Definition of the National Interest

Regulating U.S. Intelligence Operations: A Study in Definition of the National Interest

Regulating U.S. Intelligence Operations: A Study in Definition of the National Interest

Excerpt

In recent years two sets of intelligence issues have bedeviled scholars, policymakers, and practitioners alike. One deals with regulatory matters -- controls, constraints, and accountability procedures for intelligence operations. Decisions or judgments about those issues establish, essentially, the boundaries of operational permissibility for our intelligence agencies, and the mechanisms by which their activities are controlled. The other set of issues deals with effectiveness problems -- how to improve the performance of the intelligence agencies and how to enhance their contributions to national security interests within the established boundaries. This book examines the first set of issues, not (at least not directly) the second.

I have chosen that focus because this inquiry into regulatory issues illuminates central policymaking dilemmas, indeed, central questions about our nation and its purposes that all of us -- practitioners, scholars, students, or ordinary citizens -- must answer in our own minds before we can deal sensibly with problems of effectiveness or quality. This, then, is a book about threshold subjects. With a study of rules issued by several administrations over a number of years, I hope to lead the reader into reflection about underlying societal values and national purposes, and also about how to deal with, and live with, the tensions among them.

As a practitioner, a professional intelligence officer for fifteen years, I know only too well that some of my colleagues and others are, and will forever be, impatient with this approach. Those who lived through the extended, often spectacular, public inquiry into intelligence "abuses" in the 1970s will not be eager to go back over that unpleasant terrain. Moreover, the policy and intelligence communities in Washington are vitally -- and rightly -- interested in the quality-of-performance issues which are beyond the bounds of this study. They need good and active intelligence agencies, and they know it.

But as one who has also been a college teacher of international relations and national security affairs, I feel strongly that the highest responsibility we have to our successor generation is to develop in them a sensitivity to the value-based tensions Washington policymakers must resolve as they make . . .

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