INTELLIGENCE REFORM

1990s

Commission on Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community

Reportage on Commission Report

 

Anselmo, Joseph C. "U.S., Allied Collaboration Urged for Intel Satellites." Aviation Week & Space Technology, 4 Mar. 1996, 25.

Goodman, Melvin A. "The C.I.A.'s Reason for Living." New York Times, 15 Mar. 1996, A15.

The "Presidential commission has recently recommended steps that would ... weaken [the CIA] as an independent and objective interpreter of foreign events." Among the recommendations is one that would turn over analysis of satellite photography to the military; there are "major risks" in this. The new "partnership" envisaged by the commission between the CIA's collection and analytical elements offers the prospect of policy advocacy hampering the flow of intelligence information.

Johnson, Loch K. "The Aspin-Brown Intelligence Inquiry: Behind the Closed Doors of a Blue Ribbon Commission." Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 3 (2004): 1-20.

The Aspin-Brown commission "fell short of achieving the all-source integration of intelligence that some reformers ... hoped to see.... Still, the commission did shift the debate among national security experts toward considering that point-of-view more seriously. The groundwork done by the Aspin-Brown commission, along with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, made it more palatable for PFIAB under Scowcroft's leadership in 2002 and the Kean panel in 2004 to advance the cause of a stronger DCI and a more cohesive Intelligence Community. President Truman's elusive goal of a genuinely central intelligence is, thus, nearer at hand than ever before."

See L. Britt Snider,. "Commentary: A Different Angle on the Aspin-Brown Commission," Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 1 (2005).

Johnson, Loch K. The Threat on the Horizon: An Inside Account of America's Search for Security After the Cold War. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

This work chronicles the author's work in 1995-1996 as a staff member for the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community (Aspin-Brown Commission). Clark comment: My review of this work is published as: "A Scholar's Dream Assignment," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 25, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 198-205. In that review, I call it "a gem of a book for political junkies."

Bailey, AIJ 29.2 (2011), finds that "this is an excellent work and I would recommend it to both intelligence practitioners and scholars alike." For Peake, Studies 55.4 (Dec. 2011) and Intelligencer 19.1 (Winter-Spring 2012), this is "a richly documented and powerful study of what presidential commissions can and cannot accomplish." Jervis, I&NS 27.4 (Aug. 2012), sees the author's discussion as "steadily fair-minded and insightful." Clark comment: I particularly appreciated Jervis's line that Johnson's description of the commission's work "has a close resemblance to a (bad) seminar."

Kehoe, Mark T. "Brown Commission Shies Away from Radical Suggestions." Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 2 Mar. 1996, 567.

Prados, John. "No Reform Here." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 52, no. 5 (Sep./Oct. 1996): 55-59.

Prina, L. Edgar.  "Preparing for the 21st Century:  Brown/Rudman Panel Urges Reorganization of Intelligence Infrastructure."  Sea Power, Apr. 1996, 63-64ff.

Smith, R. Jeffrey. "Making Connections with Dots to Decipher U.S. Spy Spending: Panel's Report Indirectly Discloses Details It Urged Keeping Secret." Washington Post, 12 Mar. 1996, A11.

Smith, R. Jeffrey, and Walter Pincus. "Expert Panel Wants Intelligence Director to Hold More Power." Washington Post, 1 Mar. 1996, A15.

Snider, L. Britt. "Commentary: A Different Angle on the Aspin-Brown Commission." Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 1 (2005). [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol49no1/html_files/different_angle_11.htm]

Snider argues that Loch Johnson's "account [see Loch K. Johnson, "The Aspin-Brown Intelligence Inquiry: Behind the Closed Doors of a Blue Ribbon Commission," Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 3 (2004): 1-20] of the commission's creation is factually inaccurate.... Johnson states that the motivation for creating the commission was the debacle in Somalia ... in October 1993. This may well have been what interested former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin..., but it was not what motivated Congress to create the commission. The principal motivation was the Ames spy case, which broke in February 1994."

Studies in Intelligence. Editors. "A Roundtable Discussion: The Brown Commission and the Future of Intelligence." 39, no. 5 (1996): 1-9.

Weiner, Tim. "Commission Recommends Streamlined Spy Agencies." New York Times, 1 Mar. 1996, A13 (N).

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