Secrecy News

ODNI Seeks to Obscure CIA Role in Human Intelligence

Updated below

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is attempting to conceal unclassified information about the structure and function of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the leading role of the Central Intelligence Agency in collecting human intelligence.

Last month, ODNI issued a heavily redacted version of its Intelligence Community Directive 304 on “Human Intelligence.” The redacted document was produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Robert Sesek, and posted on ScribD.

The new redactions come as a surprise because most of the censored text had already been published by ODNI itself in an earlier iteration of the same unclassified Directive from 2008. That document has since been removed from the ODNI website but it is preserved on the FAS website here.

Meanwhile, the current version of the Directive — without any redactions — is also available in the public domain, despite the attempt to suppress it. (Thanks to Jeffrey Richelson for the pointer.)

A comparison of the redacted and unredacted versions shows that ODNI is now seeking to withhold the fact that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency functions as the National HUMINT Manager, among other things.

ODNI also censored the statement that the Central Intelligence Agency “Collects, analyzes, produces, and disseminates foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, including information obtained through clandestine means.”

Among intelligence agencies, in my experience, ODNI is usually the most responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests, while CIA leads the competition to be the least helpful and cooperative. In this case, it appears that CIA’s pattern of defiance overcame ODNI’s better judgment.

Update, May 8, 2014: The redactions to ICD 304 were a mistake, an ODNI official said. The full, unredacted text of the Directive was posted May 6 on the ODNI website.

One thought on “ODNI Seeks to Obscure CIA Role in Human Intelligence

  1. I’d simply note the top of the political food chain has never been excited at the prospect of taking responsibility. Considering DCI Brennan’s so-called ‘kill list’ and the reference to Executive Order 12333 governing assassination, one might presume HUMINT has not been dialed back in this regard, drones are just a new kit that takes focus off the ‘Dirty Tricks’ division. There is an interesting 1983 Mother Jones investigative report that is just as relevant today as 30 years ago:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1983/07/their-will-be-done

    Leopards don’t change their spots and criminals don’t voluntarily surrender their business models…

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