(Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell chats with National Intelligence Council Chairman Thomas Fingar)
To my knowledge, I’ve never met National Intelligence Council Chairman Tom Fingar, but I’ve been an admirer from afar of his work and approach to intelligence estimate construction.
That doesn’t mean I’m always happy the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) products the public has been able to see, but I do know from a great number of intelligence professionals I’m privileged to pow-wow with from time to time that he is one of the best intel analysts and managers of covert information flow in the business.
I have been participating in the Directorate of National Intelligence’s Open Source Initiative in which very senior national security intelligence officials have been meeting with and interacting with think tank representatives, academics, and others in order to open some of the portals on info flow into the frequently walled off intelligence analysis and packaging process. This conference along these lines looks to be interesting — and I plan to participate.
Getting open source input from top intellectuals in the country into the intel pipeline is extremely important and could be one of the most important factors that cleans up the intelligence collection and assessment process that has gone so tragically awry in the past.
Largely because of the debate about NIEs — about the flawed Iraq NIE that some thought laid the groundwork for a military invasion to the Iran NIE that suggested that Iran stopped its covert weapons program in 2003 to other NIEs that have received either applause or criticism, depending on the issue and the corner of the political spectrum one sat — I have invited NIC Chairman Thomas Fingar to discuss at a public New America Foundation/American Strategy Program meeting the analytic standards and process by which an NIE is assembled.
I think that this could be one of the most fascinating lectures around for intel junkies and for anyone seeking to better understand the national security decision making process.
The meeting will take place on Wednesday, 4 June, at noon EST at the offices of the New America Foundation. The session is essentially full already — but I will be transmitting live internet streaming of the Fingar meeting and discussion on The Washington Note website.
— Steve Clemons