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Draft Chapter for Strategic Intelligence

from military capabilities to what General Al Gray, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, called “peaceful preventive measures.”9

Secret intelligence became synonymous with clandestine and secret technical collection, with very little funding applied to either sense-making information technologies, or to deep and distributed human expertise.  The end result at the strategic level can be described by the following two observations, the first a quote and the second a recollected paraphrase:

Daniel Ellsberg speaking to Henry Kissinger:

The danger is, you’ll become like a moron.  You’ll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours” [because of your blind faith in the value of your narrow and often incorrect secret information]. 10

Tony Zinni speaking to a senior national security manager:

"80% of what I needed to know as CINCENT I got from open sources rather than classified reporting.  And within the remaining 20%, if I knew what to look for, I found another 16%.  At the end of it all, classified intelligence provided me, at best, with 4% of my command knowledge."11

Secret intelligence may legitimately claim some extraordinary successes, and we do not disagree with Richard Helms when he says that some of those successes more than justified the entire secret intelligence budget, for example, in relation to Soviet military capabilities and our counter-measures.12  However, in the larger scheme of things, secret intelligence failed to render a strategic value to the nation, in part because it failed to establish a domestic constituency, and could be so easily ignored by Democratic presidents and both ignored and manipulated by Republican presidents.13

Version 2.4 dated 7 April 2006

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