The Intelligence Cycle in Action
As told by a friend of an anonymous C4I.org consultant...

The average citizen does not know how intelligence is gathered and used to defend our great nation. This example to show why we need at least 10,000 persons to analyze and interpret what comes in...

"A rug dealer, a Yemeni in Egypt on a buying trip, tells a cafe operator who is really a CIA agent, that he saw a camel caravan bearing weapons of mass destruction (biological, etc.) moving towards Gaza for use by the Palestinians and Hamas.

The CIA man reports this raw information to his station chief in Cairo who relays it to all other stations throughout the Middle East with a request that they report any unusual camel traffic in their area. No mention is made of the WMD, however.

That data is sent in code ("eyes only") to Langley, Va. where it is assigned to an analyst on the second floor of CIA headquarters. To determine the authenticity of the message contents, the analyst immediately calls up all satellite surveillance imagery of the area to look for camel traffic. The results are inconclusive. So are commerce reports on camel sales or lease in unusual amounts.

The analyst's report, heavily filled with caveats, is then sent to the third floor to see if its findings agree with whatever may be on hand and reposing in fourth floor files.

The information also goes to CIA liaison officers on the sixth floor for coordination with some 16 other intelligence agencies within Defense, State, NSA, FBI, etc., all with an interest in the area under concern.

The feedback from this liaison is added to the computer for further analysis. Some camel movements are apparently confirmed, but they are not numerically significant. The CIA staffers now have a problem. If the story is false, they don't want to lose face. But if it turns out to be true, the agency wants to get all the credit with the White House for work well done.

The issue is sent to the Action Committee in the next building. There, in a soundproof room, the ACTCOM (12 men and 1 woman) meet to determine a course of action. The discussion is heated and goes on for hours.

One group wants to rush the information to the President, by-passing the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Another faction feels only the Secretary of Defense should be kept in the dark. Still a third group wants more information on the rug dealer from Yemen. Perhaps the information on camels moving to Palestinian territory is a smokescreen designed to move attention away from Yemen. Perhaps a further check on the cafe operator-CIA agent should be made. Has the individual been compromised? Perhaps now a double-agent? No action should be taken until these issues are resolved. This proposal carries, 7 to 6, infuriating the "hawks" among the committee who go so far as to propose an invasion of Yemen. They cite the Cole attack as justification.

One of the "hawks" leaks a story to the Washington Post about weapons of mass destruction being moved into Yemen to further that rationale. Unfortunately, he mentions "by camel", a fact that has been classified. The Agency's Inspector General is asked to investigate the leak.

Here, the process gets complicated. Congress demands to know what is going on and is not satisfied with what they are told by the Agency's spokesman. Fortunately, they are backed by the Vice-President who allows his Chief of Staff to confirm the Post story and say it came from him. The Secretary of Defense announces there is a plan to invade Yemen already in existence. The FBI arrests a Yemeni living in Spokane, Washington, hinting at sleeper cells in the CONUS.

Meantime, of course, if there were any camels moving weapons of mass destruction into the Palestinians' territory, they have long since gone their way. But hundreds of U.S. citizens have been gainfully employed, not to mention intelligence staffers of our close Allies.


C4I.org - Computer Security 
& Intelligence
Last updated 12.26.11