In the United States’ Intelligence Community (IC) there are more operations charged with the gathering of intelligence activity than you can shake a stick at. There are 16 organizations to be exact. These individual offices are both civilian and military organizations charged with accomplishing the same thing: gather information to be necessarily analyzed to assist in the conduction of foreign policy and defense of national security.
In these 16 organizations in the IC, there were (as of 2010 according to the Washington Post and Wikipedia) 1,271 governmental operations and 1,931 private entities working to assess and interpret information dealing with counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence gathering affecting all of these efforts. Over 854,000 individuals possess TOP SECRET clearances or higher. At the time of the study referenced private companies providing governmental intelligence employed 20% of the workforce eating up approximately 49% of allotted personnel budgets. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) [Following the potential referenced in “Sarge’s 1% theory” stating there will always be approximately 1% of any large population that won’t go by prevailing societal rules, this means there are a potential 8,540 people with agendas contrary to national interests. Even if that representative population is adjusted to .01% that means 84-85 people could be the next Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. This percentage doesn’t account for foreign employees.]
The IC is responsible for gathering information so the President and his National Security Council, The State Department and Department of Defense can perform their obvious duties. This is inclusive of military commanders, foreign policy makers and adjuncts (ambassadors and embassies) as well as Congress on a need to know basis. Covert Operations must be approved by the President. The IC works to acquire and interpret raw intelligence to determine its relative importance to America’s safety.
The IC disseminates this data/intelligence to assure the correct agencies may protect against foreign intelligence gathering operations. International terrorists, illegal narcotics operations and other such operations are scrutinized. Foreign policy operational objectives are assisted. Inspection of this type of operation is not available to the average American and only specially vetted personnel in the House of Representatives and the Senate are privy to IC efforts and then only on a need to know basis.
Some of the 16 organizations have been in business since the 19th Century. Others are relatively new having been established since 9/11 in response to the attack. Much of what’s done by these operations may be duplicative and as such redundant. These operations are as follows:
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); established 1947
The United States Department of Defense has the following organizations: Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) established in 1961; National Security Agency (NSA)1952; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) 1996; National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) 1961; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA); Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) 1977; Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) 1882
The bureaucratic agglomeration continues with the Department of Energy maintaining an Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI) and is a cousin to the Department of Homeland Security’s Offices of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A-2007) and Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI-1915). The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI-1908) and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Security and Intelligence (DEA/ONSI). In 1942, the State Department was granted the Bureau of Intelligence and Research while the Treasury Department birthed the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) in 2004.
Various organizations allege to act under the umbrella of such larger entities as the National Intelligence Program (NIP) defined by the National Security Act of 1947. This group works with (or possibly at odds) with the interests of the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). NIP works with MIP but may not play nicely when their need to share intelligence is controverted.
Interagency cooperation has always been a problem because petty bureaucrats, given political appointments even when manned by in-house personnel such as military officers seeking upward mobility questioned the need to know of other agencies. Add political appointees such as Janet Napolitano and you can see the “competence and intelligent design gap” widens to approximate a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon.
The Intelligence budget, not accounting for MIP is over 54 Billion dollars annually. Approximately 70% of the budget goes to private contractors of now questionable quality when it comes to vetting their own personnel. How all of this money is spent is classified with separate, Top Secret accounting conducted for “special covert operations” never admitted to exist. The House Armed Services Committee drafts legislation to pay for intelligence operations and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs formulates legislation pertaining to congressional oversight of these operations.
The IC is one of the largest bureaucratic nightmares the United States government ever developed. It’s up to you to interpret whether the levels of duplicative, repetitive, redundant information gathering now conducted against foreign elements (and now American citizens such as yourself) is warranted and really in the best interests of the American people, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Benjamin Franklin, writing in “Poor Richard’s Almanac” said: “Two can keep a secret if one is dead”.
America’s security apparatus is endangered most by its size and over-reaching bulk concealing its weakest links. On 9/11/2001, men armed with box-cutters and the element of surprise over-powered a technologically advanced system relying on machines to counter human nature and ingenuity, the weakest, individual human link can create the greatest problems.
Thanks for listening.