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The History of the Failures and Successes in Past Efforts to Integrate the U.S. Intelligence Community With the Law Enforcement Community

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Analyzing the history of intelligence reform, as well as the community’s capability for future changes, can have its limitations. This is partly because of the widely varying picture observers and even IC employees have of the community and its work. Mark Lowenthal and William Odom both note that nearly every study of intelligence begins with a long definitions chapter

These chapters offer necessary context through the authors’ own operational frames for terms like intelligence, intelligence reform, the intelligence community, and intelligence failure.

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The function of intelligence as an activity of the U.S. Government is often regarded as a product of the Cold War. Indeed, much of what is known today as the Intelligence Community was created and developed during the Cold War period. But intelligence has been a function of the Government since the founding of the Republic. While it has had various incarnations over time, intelligence has historically played a key role in providing support to U.S. military forces and in shaping the policies of the United States toward other countries. Washington's keen interest in intelligence carried over to his presidency. In the first State of the Union address in January 1790, Washington asked the Congress for funds to finance intelligence operations. In July of that year the Congress responded by establishing the Contingent Fund of Foreign Intercourse (also known as the Secret Service Fund) and authorizing $40,000 for this purpose. Within three years, the fund had grown to $1 million, about 12% of the Government's budget at the time. While the Congress required the President to certify the amounts spent, it also allowed him to conceal the purposes and recipients of the funds. (In 1846, this latter provision was challenged by the House of Representatives, but President Polk, citing national security grounds of protection of sources, refused to turn over more specific information on the use of the Fund to the Congress.) For the most part, however, the early part of the twentieth century was marked not by an expanded use of intelligence for foreign policy purposes, but by an expansion of domestic intelligence capabilities. The Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation (the forerunner of the FBI) was established in 1908 out of concern that Secret Service agents were spying on members of Congress. By 1916, the Bureau had grown from 34 agents focusing primarily on banking issues to 300 agents with an expanded charter that included internal security, Mexican border smuggling activities, neutrality violations in the Mexican revolution, and Central American unrest

After war broke out in Europe, but before the United States joined the Allied cause, the Bureau turned its attention to activities of German and British nationals within our borders.

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even as the CIA is expected to “roll with the punches,” any presidential administration, regardless of party, should recognize that taking the blows that intelligence judgments may deal to its policy hopes is in its self-interest and that of the country. Getting bad news about how policy efforts are faring is an indispensable and ultimately constructive part of the process (Emile A. Nakhleh ). The Intelligence Community does not exist merely to steal secrets abroad, but to make brutally honest assessments, independent of a policy agenda about the information it gathers. For the IC, this means resisting inevitable political pressures from the agenda-bearers of any presidential administration. It means “telling truth to power,” having the backbone to offer unwelcome assessments when they are judged to be the most professional, accurate, and objective assessments possible. Of course, the reality is that the recipients of unwelcome assessments will not always greet them with such reasonableness. For those who must render the assessments, no guarantee is possible that the ratio of hitting the mark to missing it will change dramatically, best efforts notwithstanding. The problem of preventing intelligence misjudgments remains unsolved, because uncertainty itself is the problem (Richard Shryock , 1997)

The seemingly unknowable is compounded by fragmentary and contradictory pieces of information from sources of questionable reliability. Having to make the assessment anyway, because some reading of a situation is needed, is the problem as well as the challenge.

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By and large, although Congress has removed many of the existing barriers to cooperation, and limited examples of progress exist, implementation is lagging. The key to change is strong leadership in both communities. Leaders must understand and nurture cultural change that emphasizes a responsibility for providing information—not just for sharing it. They must also communicate to their subordinates a willingness to accept risk in sharing data and must deemphasize data ownership. These steps, along with clear guidelines, inter-community training, the exchange of lessons learned, and the effective use of technology, can open doors of cooperation that have been closed for too long.

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Central Intelligence Bulletin, 5 October 1973, quoted by Fifty Years of Informing Policy , p. 206 .

Emile A. Nakhleh , Fifty Years of Informing Policy , pp. 205 – 207 .

Richard Shryock , “ The Intelligence Community Post-Mortem Program, 1973–1975“ , Studies in Intelligence , Vol. 21 , No. 3 , Fall 1997 , pp. 15 – 22 .

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