Fixing the Spy Machine: Preparing American Intelligence for the Twenty-First Century

By Richard R. Valcourt; Arthur S. Hulnick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

Secret Intelligence and the Public

Secrecy in intelligence is a virtue as well as a necessity. The sources of information and the methods by which the information is gathered must remain unknown to the targets of intelligence. The extent of knowledge about an adversary as well as the operations aimed at him have to be hidden. But in modern democracies intelligence services require public support and need to earn public trust to be completely functional. Without such support and trust the services will not be able to obtain resources or recruit talented people and their judgments will be questioned by those who use the intelligence product. Maintaining secrecy while gaining public support creates a dilemma for intelligence services in democracies in general and in the United States in particular.

In 1998, during the U.S. government’s efforts to broker a Middle East peace agreement, President Bill Clinton sought to use the CIA as a treaty monitor, a role apparently welcomed by Palestinians and Israelis alike. The plan to use the CIA in this fashion, however, caused something of a stir in the United States despite the fact that the CIA and the other U.S. intelligence services had been engaged in treaty monitoring for many years. This was no secret, but the role of intelligence in this regard was obviously not well known or recognized by the American public. Should U.S. intelligence managers have made more of an effort to publicize their treaty-monitoring work? It may never have occurred to them to do so because secrecy in intelligence is not only a tradition but also a habit.

The British, who have served as intelligence role models for their American “cousins” from time to time, have had almost an obsession with secrecy in intelligence. For many years the British refused to acknowledge the existence of their secret services, and their records of the intelligence services remain largely sealed, even now that the Cold War

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Fixing the Spy Machine: Preparing American Intelligence for the Twenty-First Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Acronyms xix
  • Chapter 1 - Is the Spy Machine Broken? 1
  • Chapter 2 - Stealing the Secrets 23
  • Chapter 3 - Puzzles and Mysteries 43
  • Chapter 4 - Secret Operations 63
  • Chapter 5 - Catching the Enemy’s Spies 87
  • Chapter 6 - Stopping the Bad Guys 105
  • Chapter 7 - Managing and Controlling Secret Intelligence 129
  • Chapter 8 - Spying for Profit 151
  • Chapter 9 - Secret Intelligence and the Public 173
  • Chapter 10 - Fixing the Spy Machine 191
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 223
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