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[] CSM 24.04.02: Spy Networks Being Rebuilt For Terror War,

Christian Science Monitor April 24, 2002

Spy Networks Being Rebuilt For Terror War

Head of military intelligence calls for 'more aggressive, offensive attitude.'

By Ann Scott Tyson, Special correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - Flooded with more than 60,000 applications since Sept. 11, the 
Central Intelligence Agency and its Pentagon counterpart are beefing up the 
ranks of spies  reversing a decade of cutbacks to hire hundreds of new 
recruits  from Arabic speakers to counterterrorism experts.

The CIA plans to increase the number of "case officers" who work for the 
agency's clandestine side  the Directorate of Operations  by 30 percent 
over the next five years. Already, since September, it has doubled the 
manpower of its counterterrorism center. The Pentagon is also enlarging its 
corps of covert intelligence officers who specialize in gathering military 

"We want to both expand and enhance our capabilities to go after tough 
targets," says Vice Admiral Thomas Wilson, who heads the Pentagon's 
intelligence effort and directs one of its largest wings: the Defense 
Intelligence Agency (DIA). "We have a rush of people interested in applying 
for jobs in the intelligence community  it's true across the board," he 
said in an interview.

The buildup reflects a dramatic shift of emphasis for the US intelligence 
community  from an imperfect, warnings-based approach to the terrorist 
threat to a more robust, wartime offense, senior officials say. "The big 
change for us is not only being concerned about warning and defending, but 
how we put together the intelligence necessary to attack worldwide," says 
Admiral Wilson, adding that future warning failures may be inevitable. "On 
the collection side, a more aggressive, offensive attitude is important."

No overnight fix

Yet critics say the intelligence shortfalls symbolized by the successful 
Sept. 11 attacks are symptomatic of deep, longstanding deficiencies in the 
clandestine networks of the CIA and DIA, and improving their capabilities 
will require more than a quick fix of new bodies and funds. Agents need 
both exhaustive training and support to pursue difficult and obscure 
targets for the long haul.

After the end of the cold war, US human-intelligence capability  "HUMINT" 
in spy talk  atrophied. Since 1991, the CIA's manpower has fallen 20 
percent, while the Pentagon's intelligence workforce has shrunk 33 percent, 
from roughly 24,000 posts to 16,000. "From 1991 to 1998, we virtually 
ceased hiring," says CIA spokesman Tom Crispell.

The Pentagon downsized its HUMINT services and consolidated them under DIA 
in 1995. The move divorced the agents from their role of supporting 
warfighters and "depleted morale," says a senior DIA official whose 
identity is protected.

At the CIA, critics say a diminished Directorate of Operations grew 
risk-averse and complacent, with some operatives filling quotas by 
recruiting worthless field agents. The agency operated "less like a 
hard-core intelligence organization and more like a back-channel State 
Department," writes Bruce Berkowitz, a government intelligence consultant 
and former CIA analyst.

"HUMINT is very important. It's something we ignored," says one 
defense-intelligence official.

Meanwhile, agencies made dramatic technological leaps in gathering and 
sharing intelligence, but these advances often overshadowed and outpaced 
the work of spies and analysts.

Over the past decade, the quantity of data collected by satellites and spy 
planes has surged. Moreover, the Pentagon has installed an elaborate 
information-network  including secure online links for thousands of 
intelligence officials and users  and a videoconferencing system connecting 
hundreds of officials from the Secretary of Defense down to soldiers in the 
field. The system allows for real-time sharing of maps, photos, and other 
data, so disparate officials can collaborate on targeting, battle damage 
assessment, and other analysis.

Deficiencies before Sept. 11

Yet, while more information is moving more places faster, progress in 
understanding it has lagged behind. Analysts are "stretched too thin" to 
mine it, Wilson says. As a result, the US spy service was ill-prepared to 
counter an array of new, unconventional threats, including terrorism. In 
Jan. 2001, for example, an official probe of the Oct. 2000 bombing of the 
USS Cole in Yemen concluded that Pentagon intelligence priorities had 
shifted from the cold war to emerging threats "only at the margins."

Today, with the overall US intelligence budget expected to rise 7 percent 
in fiscal year 2002, the CIA and DIA are bolstering their ranks, poring 
over hundreds of new online applications a week to find Americans with 
everything from obscure language skills to chemistry backgrounds and MBAs. 
Scores of ex-CIA veterans are back, Mr. Crispell says.

Yet nurturing skilled agents requires years of mentoring, and the CIA's 
more aggressive approach, while welcome, is already leading to mishaps in 
the field, says Robert Baer, a veteran Middle East operative who worked at 
the CIA until 1997. "The CIA is taking many more risks now," he says. "A 
lot of people are going out and making mistakes and being sent back to 

So far, calls to centralize US intelligence-gathering by placing three 
Defense Department agencies under the director of Central Intelligence have 
been resisted by top Pentagon officials, who say more intelligence sources 
are better. Says Wilson: "I don't see any need for a big reorganization."

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