A Tangled Web woven
At the CIA, what gets put up online--and what doesn't
The CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence is one of the agency's most open branches. The in-house think tank sponsors studies on how to improve intelligence collection and analysis and publishes a respected journal, Studies in Intelligence. But since 2003, at least three unclassified CSI reports--all critical of the agency--have been withheld from the CIA's website, U.S. News has learned. During that same time, the agency has placed online three other CSI reports, all of those relatively positive or neutral.
Among the documents withheld: a tough 69-page report, "Curing Analytic Pathologies."The study, published quietly in December, argues that reform efforts have centralized authority but failed to change the intelligence community's core problem--"dysfunctional behaviors and practices within the individual agencies." A second report, "Analytic Culture in the U.S. Intelligence Community," was published last May and found the nation's intelligence analysts isolated and lacking overseas experience and training in research techniques. A third report, "Intelligence for a New Era in American Foreign Policy," from 2004, is the record of an unclassified conference of intelligence veterans, several of whom made comments sharply critical of the intelligence community.
The three reports are available through the CIA's public-affairs office, but only by mail, and one must know to ask for them. The CIA declined to say why the reports are not posted online nor would it provide a full list of the center's unclassified publications. "I find it baffling and bizarre to suggest we are not disseminating reports," says CIA spokeswoman Michelle Neff, "when the CSI independently mails out the final version of every unclassified finished paper." But some experts say it is the agency's response that is baffling. "This does not inspire confidence," says Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.
This story appears in the January 30, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.