Thomas Fingar on National Intelligence Estimate Process

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Yesterday, I presided when the incumbent Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis Thomas Fingar spoke about the National Intelligence Estimate production process.
This is really worth watching — not only to learn about the framework, process, and analytic standards of NIE production but to learn about his views about the flawed Iraq WMD NIE and the 2007 Iran NIE of which he was lead author.

Among many things that were interesting to learn were the existence of a classified intelligence version of wikipedia called “Intellipedia” and that the Iran NIE report was more than 1500 pages in classified form — and distilled down to three and a half pages for the public release.
Fingar was fascinating — and this is important for the public to listen to.
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

27 comments on “Thomas Fingar on National Intelligence Estimate Process

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  2. DARRYL says:

    SINCE THESE ACTIONS THE DOJ HAS ASKED JUDGES TO BE MORE CORRUPT THAN USUAL AND STOPPED ME FROM GETTING FEDERAL HELP LIKE THE REST OF AMERICA AND ARE TRYING TO ISOLATE ME FROM ANY OUTSIDE COMMUNICATIONS, FAKE OPERATORS AND PHONE CALLS INTERVEIWS ETC.

    Reply

  3. Kathleen says:

    That Dennis Kucinich actually did read the NIE before sending other people’s children off to be blown to bits is THE reason I supported his campaign.

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  4. TokyoTom says:

    Fingar reports that only 6 Senators/Congressman actually looked at the NIE on Iraq.
    This tells us how little interest our Congresscritters have in exercising any of their Constitutional responibilities relating to war or in serving as a check to the Administration.

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  5. TokyoTom says:

    anonymous says that “Whatever one’s politics are, Fingar’s politicization of intelligence is crystal clear.”
    anonymous, I beg to differ. What may be “crystal clear” to you is opaque to those without access to additional or alternative information.
    Of course, it has long been crystal clear that this Administration lied and bullied its way into the Iraq war, and that it cannot be trusted now. Fingar might very well be politicizing the Iran intelligence, but without more facts, none of us can determined that neocons are not simply continuining to cry wolf.

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  6. Mr.Murder says:

    The point is that the GOP was complicit with the INTEL f*ckup because Mrs.Santorum helped make certain the stovepipe was inserted after the fact, as a senior staffer to Sen.Santorum.
    It can happoen with Democrats also, as it did when Lieberman helped spout talking points repeatedly.

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    The obvious solution is that the intel chief should report to the congressional intel committees and not to the president because the Congress is responsible for decisions concerning war and peace.

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  8. easy e says:

    I too am with POA.
    But one can still hope that Steve is on to something out there that finally sandbags these criminal scrotum lickers.
    Recall that Steve was on the front of the Fitz and Plame case a few ago, which apparently now has White House lawyers concerned because of McClellan’s recent revelations…http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/08/duffy-waxman-plame/.
    The Bush/Cheney neocon cabal will skate, but one can only hope that post-administration legal repercussions will keep these slimewads in a squirming misery for the rest of their lives.

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  9. David says:

    I’m with you on this one, POA.

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Clemons left this story up for a while purposefully. He sees something we don’t, part of the bigger picture”
    Hmnm, ya really think so? You don’t think that maybe he’s just busy?
    Look, I really like this Steve character, and enjoy the hell out of this blog. But I learned a long time ago that trying to figure out what makes this Clemon’s character tick is an exercise in futility, and trying to discern his motives or loyalties is equally a dead end endeavor.
    Really, I don’t even think we are scratching the surface here, and are far far away from grasping or debating the gravity of the trouble we’re in both domestically and internationally. We have allowed a band of criminals to wrest control of our countries course from rational and responsible governance.
    I think you are insinuating that “they” are going to attack Iran. Personally, I think you are underestimating these people. I think their plans are far more scarier, and much farther reaching, than a mere escalation of hostilities in the Middle East.
    You think Hitler originally intended to stop in Poland?

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  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Clemons left this story up for a while purposefully.
    He sees something we don’t, part of the bigger picture.
    This story is getting in front of something coming.
    Obama and McCain both talk strong against Iran. Both make it clear they have few reservations about widening the conflict that country’s way.
    McCain for the overall emphasis of empire, Obama as an out to his stance against “some wars” but not all wars.

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    “The loser in all and any of these proposals is the public.”
    That’s justification for doing it, based on past performance. It’s an ongoing zero-sum game, the government wins and the public loses. Most recently, they’ve lost their jobs, their homes, the value of their money, their sons and daughters — what more is there to lose?

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  13. Carroll says:

    Shake up?
    Pick your favorite spy agency. Who should be in charge?
    May 31, 2008
    Executive Order 12333. LATimes:
    A Bush administration plan to issue new orders realigning the chain of command over U.S. spy services has triggered turf-related skirmishes across the intelligence community.
    The changes could erode the CIA’s standing as the nation’s lead spy service abroad by requiring agency station chiefs in certain countries to cede authority to officials from other U.S. spy agencies, officials said. …
    Drafts of the rewritten order — known in intelligence circles by its number, 12333 — have been circulating among top intelligence officials in recent weeks, prompting last-minute lobbying efforts by affected agencies.
    A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell declined to comment on the revised order but said it was expected to be completed in mid-June.
    The most controversial component of the new order would reshape the roles of the CIA’s station chiefs, the agency’s top representatives in other countries.
    Station chiefs have traditionally operated with significant autonomy, serving as the main intelligence advisors to U.S. ambassadors, controlling clandestine operations in their countries, and acting as the main point of contact for foreign intelligence services.
    Under the proposed plan, the station chiefs would remain in position but could be required to cede some of their authority to officials from other agencies, including the NSA or the Defense Intelligence Agency.
    “There will always be a station chief,” said a second U.S. intelligence official familiar with the proposal. But the director of national intelligence “may choose a different representative.”
    The CIA has resisted the move, with CIA Director Michael V. Hayden saying in recent interviews that a realignment could create confusion in locations where swift decisions are often required and foreign governments want a trusted point of contact.
    Other officials have warned that the idea might lead to interference, or jeopardize secrecy.
    If the order is approved, officials from different agencies “would have the ability to turn off or make decisions about the CIA’s in-country activities,” said a former U.S. intelligence official who has seen drafts of the document. That other official “would also have visibility into sensitive CIA operations. It’s kind of a slippery slope.”
    “The Bureau, NSA, DOD, etc. they all want the same thing — to be able to do whatever they want, wherever they want regardless of its effectiveness, its level of stupidity or how it may hurt the larger US interest,” comments one former senior US intelligence officer. “They have sensed weakness since 9-11 and they will not stop in this effort. Hayden tried to get this while he was still at NSA and current law was being debated. [FBI Director Robert] Mueller also tried and DOD tried to just get rid of the [chief of station] position entirely. State also wants to do it because they want the embassy [deputy chief of mission] to be in charge.
    “If McCain is elected it won’t matter because he will abolish the agency if he can and if he can’t do that, he’ll just create a new ‘civilian’ agency to but put it under military control,” he added. “The loser in all and any of these proposals is the public.”

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    Hey, the nation and God are indivisible, one and the same. The Pledge of Allegiance says so. The Chimp is doing God’s work here on earth. That’s the Christian God, not one of them other gods, the One that all those Christian sects that disagree and hate each other worship, the One with a capital O that stands for One, indivisible.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Indivisible”
    Nahhh, you’re thinkin’ a different God. Bush’s God forgot all about that indivisible stuff…
    “God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East”…George aWol Bush.

    Reply

  16. Mr.Murder says:

    Of course they are Ledeen forgeries, the closest the Niger forgery came to being accurate was being dated shipments of Niger transactions w/Libya.
    Ledeen had his security clearances stripped over Libya at times prior.
    He was the one helping get the Billy Carter/Col.Khadaffi slander going back in the ’80 campaign.
    Also he looks to have been one of the people helping front items for the Red Brigade counteroperative era. The leftist terror group that targeted leftists, almost sounds like they had right wing backing….
    Oh, Ledeen’s wife was on Sen.Santorum’s staff at the time of the Niger forgeries also. Their daughter Simone Ledeen helped lose billions of dollars in Iraq as well as staffer for the IPA.
    Follow the Money.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Along these same lines, the Italian Parliament has asserted that Micheal Ledeen was one of the “creators” of the Niger forgeries. Of course, for these treasonous lyin’ monsters like Ledeen, such accusations are immediately answered by accusing the Iranians of “duping” us.
    All these bastards are going to skate, getting away with what can ONLY be described as high crimes and treason. By rights, they should all be swinging from a gallows, a direct message to any incoming administration that may be tempted to commit the same crimes and treasons. Instead, they will live out their lives wealthy and and beyond the law, having had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps to come, millions.
    Welcome to America. One Nation Under God.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why do we need intelligence reports when these pieces of shit can wage a war based on pure fantasy?????
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/sen_wyden_rumsfeld_should_be_h.php#comments
    An excerpt….
    “The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information”
    …end excerpt.
    Of course, this is why the Phase Two Report wasn’t released earlier. Despite what a number of posters here have said on the McClellan threads, anyone that doesn’t KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that these slimeballs LIED us into a war is a damned fool. I wonder, did this McClellan asshole have pre-knowledge that the Phase Two Report was about to be released, and that determined the timing for release of his belated and self serving tome of literary legacy adjustment?
    What a suprise, these people just made shit up. Gee golly, who coulda guessed? NIE??? What the hell is an NIE?? These guys used the ‘ol LJL, the tried and true intelligence report that guarantees results; “Lets Just Lie”.
    The wonderful bit of “Isn’t this a beautiful process of honest government” that Fingar lays out is truly awe inspiring, and deserves a good chuckle, before it finally dissapears from view down the gurgling swirl of the Washington crapper.

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  19. alan says:

    Given the number of agencies involved, the need for co-ordination and the usual bureaucratic backstabbing and apple polishing how come we accept a complex and unwieldy appartus called national intelligence? Are we to believe that we can provide a product that politicians will understand? Already Senators complain that they come away baffled by the stuff they are asked to read and digest in locked hideaways. Then they are told not to talk about it, so the ability to interact with colleagues is limited. Add to that the political posturing as Senators push talking points: voila you end up with garbage. Intelligent garbage, to be sure, but garbage nevertheless. It gave us the Iraq War. Will it give us an Iran War? Why do we still call this intelligence?

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  20. TonyForesta says:

    The “intellipedia” revelation is creepy, but the NIE on the change of leadership is even more creepy.
    Watching the conference validated every horrorshow concern regarding the Bush government’s deceptive manipulation of intelligence, and ruthless bruting of unvetted, cherry picked, single sourced, dodgey hype, exaggerations and patent lies to falsely justify the Iraq war.
    More the 70% of America’s intelligence product is now jobbed off and subcontracted to private intelligence companies who do not swear oaths to uphold the Constitution, are entirely unaccountable, operate without review, recourse, or remedy for fraud abuse, and whose loyalties are to the individuals or cabals awarding the contracts and NOT the American people.
    Unadulterated intelligence should feed policy. When policy and policy makers contaminate the intelligence product to conform to preexisting objectives, – the people are effectively deprived of intelligence, and force fed propaganda disinformation, and patent lies. The intelligence aparatus must be free to glean formulate an intelligence product based on the the best assessment fully examined, analyized, well vetted sources, information, facts, and events in the event field.
    Policy makers contaminating the intelligence product to conform to preexisting policies is dangerous work. Iraq being a perfect example.
    In effect America no longer has an intelligence apparatus, and therefore no viable intelligence product. We have parrots, lockstep partisans, and compliant minions conjuring fictions and myths to justify the fascist machinations and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the Bush government, and illegally spying on Americans.
    A request Mr. Clemons – would you, could you pretty please publish the “code of standards” supposedly given to all intelligence operators that Mr. Fingar handed to you today?

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  21. Mr.Murder says:

    “Does the U.S.’s RICO statute apply in foreign courts? That’s what a bunch of American legal heavies will argue about in Moscow later this month when the Russian Federation continues its battle against the Bank of New York Mellon.”
    OT, but interesting.
    Russians pursuit of RICO damages against America’s oldest bank.
    Puts entirely new spin on the meaning of foreign policy.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/06/04/will-the-russians-go-for-rico-moscow-goes-after-bank-of-new-york/
    As for the link Steve put on TWN and the conference, here’s to hoping some friends in the realm of the work he discusses reply to the material Clemons provides here.
    These are places to start discussions from. Not just a place to review intel and its impact. It’s pretty clear the IC is becoming a bit more transparent at times to try and garner new talent for its purposes.

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  22. easy e says:

    Fitzgerald indicates he may be ready to testify on Rove’s efforts to push him out…
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/05/fitzgerald-indicates-he-may-be-ready-to-testify-on-roves-efforts-to-push-him-out/

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  23. easy e says:

    Would be nice for the following to grow some legs:
    Bush misused Iraq intelligence: Senate report…
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/iraq_usa_intelligence_dc
    Senate Intelligence Report Undermines McCain’s Claims That ‘Every Assessment’ Justified War In Iraq…
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/05/intell-report-false-pretenses/

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  24. anonymous says:

    Steve– You have been conned. The principal author of the Iran NIE was not Fingar. It was former State Department officer Vann Van Diepen who now serves as National Intelligence Officer for WMD. This NIE was a catastrophe that has been thoroughly discredited by findings by the IAEA. Fingar’s claims of reforming analysis are just window dressing. He is the epitomy of everything he claims was wrong with US intelligence before he assumed his current position: he discourages dissent and pushes his own partisan agenda. Fingar is a joke within the administration, US intel agencies, and Congress. It is instructive that Fingar chose to speak to a liberal blogger like yourself to try to spin his way out of the Iran NIE disaster. Whatever one’s politics are, Fingar’s politicization of intelligence is crystal clear.
    j3ux8v

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    I would think by now, considering all the evidence, that any thinking person would be disabused of the notion that any sensible positions would come out of the intelligence community. They have a miserable record concerning many world events (besides their destructive clandestine activities, which influence their positions). The CIA and its fifteen cohorts, besides being ineffective, are entirely beholden to the president and nothing they say (or the President says) should be accepted as fact.
    Mr. Fingar says that this flawed process, which he was a part of, will be transformed. Change a long-lived culture? I don’t think so. Fingar: “We’re not in the business of reaching pre-determined conclusions.” Where was the laughter? Doesn’t matter.
    The US Congress is responsible for foreign as well as domestic policies. Its members are free to travel at will, fact-find, investigate and determine the best course of action for the country. But they don’t do it. They, more and more, have abrogated their constitutional functions and when something goes wrong, as it always does, they blame others, such as the CIA. In regard to Iraq many of us knew what Bush/Cheney were up to, and congressional members should have known. But they have played dumb, for what they thought were good political reasons. A rotten Congress will result in rotten policy, irregardless of what the intelligence community does.

    Reply

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