The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the organization established in 1947 to gather and analyze information, give intelligence assessments and carry out covert activities, is radically restructuring itself, as of March 2015.
The CIA is traditionally divided into: the National Clandestine Service, for collection; the Directorate of Intelligence, for analysis; the Directorate of Science and Technology, for technology; and the Directorate of Support, for support services. However, the agency intends to morph those divisions into 10 centers, each focused on a geographical area or issue and each combining a multidisciplinary team of information collectors, analysts, scientists and support staff. The new focus will be on missions rather than divisions.
Particularly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, experts criticized the CIA and other intelligence gathering/security agencies for their inability to effectively gather, analyze, share and use information about the country’s enemies. The 9/11 Commission report, in particular, stated that a “smart” government “would integrate all sources of information to see the enemy as a whole” using “all-source analysis” to “inform and shape strategies to collect more intelligence.”
The CIA took steps toward that kind of synthesis before 9/11, when it established the Counterterrorism Center in 1986. The Center was designed to transcend the agency’s traditional divisions, combining the talents of multidisciplinary experts. Despite the Center’s existence and steps toward successful teamwork, the Robb-Silberman Commission issued a 2005 report on the country’s intelligence capabilities concerning weapons of mass destruction and stated that the American intelligence community lacked a “coordinated effort among the major federal agencies tasked with counterterrorism responsibility” before 9/11. The Commission found that collectors, analysts and supervisors tended to work independently with only periodic communication and collaboration.
Given the gaps in intelligence and the disconnections created by traditional divisions, some corrective steps were taken; however, CIA Director John Brennan began planning the agency’s reorganization in earnest in 2014. Brennan states that the reorganization will enable the CIA to “cover the entire universe, regionally and functionally.”
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