Secrecy News

2008 DNI Briefing: Questions for the Record

For the first time in several years, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has once again published unclassified responses from the Director of National Intelligence (pdf) to questions for the record arising from the DNI’s 2008 annual threat briefing to Congress.  In the past, such formal responses to Congress have offered an unexpected wealth of information and updated intelligence.

Unfortunately, the latest answers were transmitted to the Committee in May 2008 and not published until May 2009, so to a large extent they are stale, have been overtaken by events, or are of limited historical interest.  But in some cases, they present pithy statements of official policy or otherwise interesting interpretations of events:

“We are unequivocally opposed to leniency for Mr. [Jonathan] Pollard,” the convicted spy.

“For a number of reasons, we believe China poses a significantly greater foreign intelligence threat today than it did during most of the cold war era.”

“The Intelligence Community plays a crucial role in the protection of U.S. persons and national interests from emerging or re-emerging disease outbreaks.  The IC provides earliest possible warning… using both clandestine collection and open source collection of foreign print and electronic media.”

See the DNI responses to questions for the record from the February 5, 2008 hearing on Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, transmitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee May 2, 2008.

0 thoughts on “2008 DNI Briefing: Questions for the Record

  1. > Additional classified information, previously submitted to the SSCI during the years of this matter, remains valid as to the grave national damage caused by this individual [Pollard].

    I have no sympathy for Pollard, but — as in many previous cases when “grave damage” has been asserted by intelligence officials — I have to wonder what they’re talking about. “Grave national damage” sounds pretty grave, and one would think that the signs of that might be perceptible.

  2. The Intelligence Community (IC) has and uses “Words of Estimative Probability” (WEPs) in their products (though not as often as they perhaps had ought to); maybe it’s time for a different set of “Words of Estimative Probability for National Damage” (WEPND).

    “Grave National Damage: Having a 4% chance, +/- 3%, of producing measurable effects observable by objective third parties using unclassified means.”

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