Does the CIA have enough spies out stealing secrets around the
That's one of the most critical questions facing US intelligence -
and some key members of Congress think that almost three years after
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks US human intelligence manpower
In a stinging slap at CIA officials, the House Select Committee
on Intelligence judges in a recently released report that espionage
manpower is in an "entirely unacceptable state of affairs."
It's a rebuke that reflects Capitol Hill's increasingly
aggressive oversight of US espionage performance.
This week alone will see the beginning of congressional hearings
meant to examine the intelligence provided to the Bush
administration prior to the war on Iraq, as well as the continuation
of meetings of a special commission appointed to examine
intelligence failings that might have led to Sept. 11, and report to
"The nation's security would benefit from fundamental structural
and management changes within the intelligence community," concludes
the report accompanying the fiscal 2004 House intelligence
The most-needed reforms, according to the committee report, are
in the arena of human intelligence (HUMINT in the intelligence
community's lexicon). More eyes on the ground, more effective
management of them, more diversity, and more advanced skills -
especially in languages - are needed.
Without providing specific numbers and examples, the report
points out the scarcity of spies in critical areas. And it points
out that when crises occur - such as in Afghanistan and Iraq - spies
are reassigned from their areas of expertise to focus on the current
The report acknowledges that the gaps in human intelligence are
due, in large part, to congressional underfunding during the 1990s.
But since the mid to late 1990s, the CIA has focused on
rebuilding its clandestine network. In April 2002, Jim Pavitt,
deputy director for operations at the CIA, gave a speech at Duke
"I have more spies stealing more secrets than at any time in the
history of the CIA," he said. "I ask you to take me at my word.
We're stealing more secrets, providing our leadership with more
intelligence than we've ever done before."
Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman, says he can't be specific, but,
"Are we deploying more officers in the field? …