A Look Back at Intelligence Reform

06.01.10 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

corrected below

The development of the 2004 intelligence reform legislation that created the Director of National Intelligence and attempted to modernize and integrate the U.S. intelligence community was examined in detail last year in an unreleased report (large pdf) from the Office of the DNI.

The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was supposed to “address institutional obstacles that had complicated the IC’s struggle to adapt to new technologies and a changing national security environment. The new act would redraw boundaries between foreign and domestic intelligence, set new rules for intelligence and law enforcement, enhance the interplay between civilian and military intelligence, correct the shortfall in information sharing, and meet the needs of traditional and emergent intelligence functions.”

But five years later, many of those original obstacles remain in place.

“The IC continues its struggle to keep up with technological innovations in collection. Other challenges include transforming analysis, anticipating future threats, increasing critical language capabilities, and improving hiring and security clearance processing.”

The report itself ironically exemplifies at least two of the enduring defects afflicting U.S. intelligence, namely pointless secrecy and a surprising backwardness in communications and information sharing.

For unknown reasons, the unclassified report has not been publicly released and made available online by ODNI.  [This is not correct — see below.] (It was however footnoted in an article by Patrick C. Neary in the latest issue of the CIA journal Studies in Intelligence.)  Limiting distribution in this way tends to diminish whatever value and utility the document might have.

Moreover, the report itself is so extravagantly overproduced that it requires a gargantuan 18 Megabytes to present a mere 25 pages of text.  (A word-searchable version of the document is 25 Megabytes.)  In such an unwieldy format, the report is the opposite of user-friendly.  It is unlikely to be emailed, downloaded— or read.

A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.  See “Reforming Intelligence: the Passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act,” Laurie West Van Hook, National Intelligence University, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, February 2009.

Correction: Contrary to what I wrote above, the report was published last year on the ODNI website here (pdf).