Thursday, November 18, 2004
Finally, CIA going on the offense
CIA plans riskier, more aggressive espionage
Director Porter Goss told his new chief of spy operations this week to launch a much more aggressive espionage campaign that would use undercover officers to penetrate terrorist groups and hostile governments such as North Korea and Iran, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of Goss' plans.
The risky new strategy would be a sharp departure from the CIA's traditional style of human intelligence, in which field officers under flimsy cover as diplomats in U.S. embassies try to recruit foreign spies and gather tips from allied intelligence services. Those methods don't work with terror groups or in countries where the United States has no embassies, such as prewar Iraq or present-day North Korea and Iran.
"Our core business in my view is close-in access to the plans and intentions" of adversary states and terror groups, Goss said in his speech. He said he expects the strategy to yield successes, but also painful failures he will have to explain to Congress. Goss said he would give his field officers "more autonomy" to do their work and pledged to back them if they fail. "We're going to encourage and expect calculated risk-taking that will be rewarded," he said. "I know it won't go right all the time. When it goes wrong, it will be supported."