U.S. Intelligence Seen “Retreating into Greater Secrecy”

12.18.07 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The U.S. intelligence community is reverting to old patterns of cold war secrecy, warned the former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), to the detriment of U.S. intelligence.

“The reality that I see is an Intelligence Community that is retreating into greater secrecy and old cultural habits, even in the short time since I left the NIC in early 2005,” said Amb. Robert L. Hutchings in recent testimony (pdf).

“Try to get a CIA analyst to go on the record at an academic conference, or participate in an interactive website or blog with experts from outside government or other countries, and you will see how deeply ingrained are the old Cold War cultural habits and mind-sets,” he said.

“What this means, additionally, is that the Intelligence Community is not attracting the ‘best and brightest’ into their ranks. They go elsewhere.”

See his prepared testimony from a December 6 hearing of the House Intelligence Committee here.

One of the aspects of the trend towards increasing secrecy is what appears to be a newly restrictive approach to pre-publication review of writings by current or former intelligence employees.

Earlier this year, the Central Intelligence Agency refused to permit former intelligence officer and author Valerie Plame Wilson to publish certain information about her career that had already been disclosed in the Congressional Record.

The publishers of Ms. Wilson’s memoir devised a novel and effective solution: They hired journalist Laura Rozen to write an afterword, based entirely on information gathered in the public domain, filling in many of the missing details of Ms. Wilson’s account. Laura Rozen, who writes for Mother Jones and for the War and Piece blog, tells the story here.