The CIA and the Culture of Failure
“A steady stream of intelligence failures in the 1990s occurred in every facet of CIA activity, from intelligence collection to analysis to counterintelligence to covert action,” writes John Diamond in a new book on “The CIA and the Culture of Failure.”
This is of course well-trodden ground, and the author himself reported many of the underlying episodes for the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and USA Today.
But Diamond probes beneath the familiar surface of events in an effort to understand the dynamics at work, and to show how individual intelligence failures interacted cumulatively and dialectically to yield the CIA of today.
“The events of the 1990s both stemmed from and led to a steady erosion of intelligence capability, contributing to a series of intelligence lapses and alleged lapses and to a consequent decline of confidence in the intelligence community that left the CIA critically weakened,” he concludes. “These processes fed off and fueled one another, leading to a fatal cycle of error, criticism, overcorrection, distraction, and politicization.”
Diamond writes without identifiable animus towards the CIA, and gives due weight to the agency’s defenders and the critics of its critics. Even on well-rehearsed topics such as the CIA’s failure to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union, he adds significant nuance and avoids cliche.
See “The CIA and the Culture of Failure: U.S. Intelligence from the End of the Cold War to the Invasion of Iraq” by John Diamond, Stanford University Press, September 2008.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]
A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.
In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]