CIA launches biggest organisational revamp; to focus more on cyber operations

7 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CIA announces overhaul to respond to ‘modern threats’.

Director John Brennan has ordered a sweeping reorganization of the CIA, an overhaul designed to make its leaders more accountable and close espionage gaps (AP photo) WASHINGTON: Director John Brennan has ordered a sweeping reorganization of the CIA, an overhaul designed to make its leaders more accountable and close espionage gaps amid widespread concerns about the US spy agency’s limited insights into a series of major global developments.

Brennan announced the restructuring to the CIA workforce on Friday, including a new directorate devoted to boosting the CIA’s computer hacking skills. Brennan said he is creating new units within the CIA, called “mission centres,” intended to concentrate the agency’s focus on specific challenges or geographic areas, such as weapons proliferation or Africa. He said the move comes after nine agency officers spent three months analyzing its management structure, including what deputy CIA director David Cohen called “pain points,” organizational areas where the CIA’s bureaucracy does not work efficiently. The CIA director said he also is establishing a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” to lead efforts to track and take advantage of advances in cyber technology to gather intelligence. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, who is under federal investigation for his relationship with a Florida doctor and political donor. “There are a lot of areas that I would like to have better insight to, better information about, better access to.

Briefing reporters with Cohen at CIA headquarters this week, Brennan said the changes are necessary to address intelligence gaps that the CIA is not covering. However, the plans appear to cover external threats more than internal problems, with the creation of ten new mission centres and re-assignment of thousands of spies. But the CIA felt that it had to reorganize to keep up with the technological “pace of change,” as one official put it. “Our ability to carry out our responsibilities for human intelligence and national security responsibilities has become more challenging” in today’s digital world, Brennan said. “And so what we need to do as an agency is make sure we’re able to understand all of the aspects of that digital environment.” Stepping up the CIA’s expertise in cyberspace may help it counter technological innovations and sophisticated use of social media by militant groups such as Islamic State. Whether because we don’t even have a diplomatic presence in a country, or because there are parts of countries that have been overrun and taken over by terrorist groups and others.” The changes come against a backdrop of evidence that the CIA’s focus on hunting and killing terrorists since the Sept. 11 attacks has led to an erosion of the espionage and analytic capabilities the agency built during the Cold War. The CIA, along with other US intelligence agencies, wrongly assessed the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002 and failed to anticipate the rapid collapse of Middle East governments during the Arab Spring in 2011, among other shortcomings.

The 10 new “mission centres” will bring together CIA officers with expertise from across the agency’s range of disciplines to concentrate on specific intelligence target areas or subject matter, Brennan said. The agency’s greatest public success of recent years — the 10-year effort to locate and kill Osama bin Laden in 2011 — may have taken longer than it should have, according to evidence made public in the recent Senate report on CIA interrogations. Under Brennan’s reorganization, the CIA would break down the wall between the operations and analytical arms, a system that typically has required the case officers who recruit spies and run covert operations to work for different bosses, in different offices, than analysts who interpret the intelligence and write briefing papers for the president and other policymakers. Two – the Directorate of Science and Technology, which among other activities invents spy gadgets, and the Directorate of Support, which handles administrative and logistical tasks – will retain their names. Under the new plan, each center would be run by an assistant director who would be responsible for the entire intelligence mission within that jurisdiction, including covert operations, spying, analysis, liaison with foreign partners and logistics.

Critics of a blended approach have raised concerns that combining analysts with operators could compromise the objectivity of the analysts, who are tasked with coldly interpreting intelligence in which they have no stake.

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