Wesley K. Wark
The fin de siècle of the 1990s was a period of uncertain transition for intelligence communities. They found themselves caught between a familiar, Cold War past and an uncertain future. It was a peculiarity of the debate over intelligence in the 1990s that as the future grew ever murkier, the past came to take on a degree of nostalgia. Intelligence community veterans came close to lamenting the disappearance of the Soviet target, in retrospect discussed as a highly predictable and near transparent object for intelligence collection and assessment.
There were commendable efforts launched during the decade of the 1990s to come to terms with the changes that had beset the world of intelligence since the collapse of the Soviet Union. These included the 1996 report of the Aspin-Brown Commission, established by Congress to review the entire mandate of the US intelligence community. Aspin-Brown was the largest and most significant public investigation of its kind since the end of the Cold War. 1 A near equal in heft and significance was the study prepared by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the US House of Representatives, IC21: Intelligence Community in the Twenty-First Century.2 The US think-tank lobby weighed in with two reports. One, from the Council on Foreign Relations, Making Intelligence Smarter, gained some press notoriety for having advocated the unfettered use of journalists and ‘other private citizens to conduct intelligence in denied areas. The other think-tank product, The Report of the Twentieth Century Fund