Intelligence Community Reform How it Effects National Security Research Paper

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TOPIC: Research Paper on Intelligence Community Reform How it Effects National Security Assignment

Since the 911 terrorist attacks, most people assumed the U.S. intelligence community was undergoing a series of different reforms, to help gather and more effectively utilize intelligence. Part of the reason for this, is because of a series of blown opportunities the U.S. intelligence community had in the events leading up to September 11, 2001. A good example of this can be seen with the CIA admitting they knew of the whereabouts for one of the September 11th hijackers in January 2000. When a meeting would take place between the would be hijacker (Khalid Al Mihdar) and Osama Bin Laden in Malaysia in January. During the meeting, the CIA would photograph and identify Al Midhar as person of interest associated with Al Quida. However, they would not place him on any kind of terrorist watch list or share any of this information with other intelligence agencies. At which point, Al Midhar was able to obtain an entry visa into the United States (which allowed him to conduct terrorist activities for Al Quida). (Zeagart, 2007, pp. 1 -- 14) This is problematic, because it would highlight how the U.S. intelligence community had become increasingly dysfunctional. As the various agencies would have rivalries and turf wars with each other, over areas of influence as well as intelligence sharing. After September 11th, there was more of an emphasis on forcing the different agencies to work together, to prevent another major intelligence disaster. (Zeagart, 2007, pp. 1 -- 14) Yet, nearly ten years after the September 11th, the U.S. intelligence community is still highly dysfunctional and unable to accept responsibility; for their bungling of many different cases (with severe national security implications). A good example of this can be seen with the release over 400 thousand pages of secret documents relating to the Iraq War by the website Wiki Leaks. The fact the U.S. intelligence community was unable to stop this, much less detect that someone was stealing 400 pages of secret documents shows how they are in a state of denial. ("Five Bombshells from Wiki Leaks Iraq War Documents," 2010) as a result, unless some kind of radical reform is implemented, the country could be facing similar challenges down the road (which could have similar implications on the nation as September 11th). This means, that there must be some kind of emphasis on changing the overall culture and focus of the U.S. intelligence community. To achieve this objective we will examine: the recent successes, failures and how various reforms can be implemented. This will be accomplished through: introducing a hypothesis, creating a purpose statement, examining the theoretical framework, looking at the background, analyzing the results and providing a final conclusion. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights as to how to effectively reform the U.S. intelligence community.


The obvious failures in the U.S. intelligence community over the last several years, is highlighting how various reforms after September 11th are ineffective. This is because they failed to address the culture, inside these organizations themselves. This leads to the hypothesis of:

Effective intelligence reform will require changing the process of oversight and giving intelligence agencies greater flexibility.

One of the reasons for this hypothesis is because: many current and former intelligence officials have often complained that they have the ability to effectively perform their jobs. The problem is that many bureaucrats and politicians will often second guess the decisions of intelligence officials after the fact. This is troubling, because it forces many intelligence operatives, to not use creativity and flexibility when addressing national security issues. Once this takes place, you will see a similar situation as to what occurred in the events prior to the September 11th attacks in Malaysia. Where, officials knew that Al Quida was planning an imminent attack. However, they failed to grasp the severity of the situation, because they did not have any kind of concrete proof other than the meeting that took place. (Zeagart, 2007, pp. 1 -- 14) This is challenging, because many politicians demand that U.S. intelligence agencies have mountains of evidence, before conducting any kind of counter terrorism operations. A good example of this prevailing attitude in Washington can be seen with comments from Senator Diane Feinstein. Who said, "It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade." ("Overall U.S. Intelligence Budget Tops $80 Billion," 2010)This is problematic, because politicians (like Feinstein) are attempting to micro manage U.S. intelligence operations around the world. The fact that these talking heads can state that spending is to high, without considering the fact the U.S. forces are fighting a war terrorism is foolishly naive (to say the least). As a result, this underscores a part of the problem that all U.S. intelligence reforms face (a culture of demanding to know all of their activities). Given the fact that many of these operations are secret; means that the constant amounts of disclosures will increase. At which point, the odds improve that various pieces of covert information will be disclosed to the general public. When you put this in the backdrop of the Wiki Leaks disclosure, one could argue that this is the biggest problem facing the U.S. intelligence community. Therefore, this leads to the hypothesis that that any kind of effective intelligence reform; will require changing the process of oversight and giving intelligence agencies greater flexibility.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this discussion is to examine the impact of various intelligence reforms of: the past and how they contributed to the culture that currently exists in the U.S. intelligence community. To achieve this objective requires studying: the recent successes, failures and how various reforms can be implemented. These different elements are important, because they help to focus the discussion in corroborating or refuting the hypothesis that was presented earlier. This will provide the greatest insights as to the possible opportunities and challenges surrounding U.S. intelligence reform.

Theoretical Framework

The perspective that will be taken is from the viewpoint of an outsider looking in and with the intention of having these agencies, effectively addressing the underlying threats that they are facing. This will be accomplished through conducting qualitative research and analysis. This is when you are examining the underlying pieces of information, to make assessments as to how the problem can fixed based upon observation. ("Qualitative Research," 2010) This will provide the most balanced approach as to what factors could be hindering possible intelligence reforms and how they can be mitigated.


Successes of the U.S. Intelligence Community

Despite the negative publicity the U.S. intelligence community received over the last few years, there have been a number of different successes. The most obvious would be the fact, that they were able to foil a number of different plots intended to attack American target around the world. At the same time, the various reforms (such as the Patriot Act) have allowed intelligence officials to set up sting operations and go after those individuals who engage in the support of terrorism or various related activities. A recent example of this can be seen with the extradition of Viktor Bout. He is a major Russian arms dealer, who was arrested in 2008 on terrorism charges. Where, he was trying to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARQ). They are designated as a terrorist organization, due to the activities that they engage in against the government of Columbia and the fact that they are actively involved in drug smuggling. During the meeting Bout, offered to sell federal agents the weapons they required for a new round of fighting. His arrest was a major victory for U.S. intelligence. Who had been tracking the activities of Bout, when he began selling arms to Charles Taylor of Liberia during the 1990's. This would help to fuel the bloody civil war that would take place in Sierra Leon. As a result, Bout's arrest and deportation to the U.S. is a major victory for the intelligence community. This is because the actions of Bout and his associates have made the war on terrorism more difficult, as they are one of the major suppliers of weapons to these organizations. ("Suspected Arms Dealer Arrives in U.S.," 2010) What this shows, is that the U.S. intelligence community and their agents are able to effectively conduct different operations around the world.

Failures of the U.S. Intelligence Community

The problem with the various successes in U.S. intelligence is that they are never fully disclosed to the world, for national security reasons. Instead, there has been a continuing emphasis on the constant failures of the U.S. intelligence community. Where, every single operation that is not a success is carefully scrutinized in the press by the different talking heads. At the same time, various political operatives will attempt to score political points, by slamming the U.S. intelligence community as a bunch of inept fools. A good example of this can be seen with the issue of water boarding. This… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Intelligence Community Reform How it Effects National Security.  (2010, November 22).  Retrieved October 17, 2021, from

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"Intelligence Community Reform How it Effects National Security."  November 22, 2010.  Accessed October 17, 2021.