43. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McGiffert) to Secretary of Defense Brown1


  • PRM–11

Re PRM–11 talking points for the President, our objective should be to convince the President to go slow.2 Our general strategy should be to take the high ground and in the process extract ourselves from (a) the biased approach of PRM–11, which is framed in question-begging terms of the DCI’s authority, and (b) the current dialogue which, in its emphasis on resource management/line authority/tasking, has tended to elevate form over substance. We need to focus on the differ[Page 255]ence between command and community, with the latter better reflecting the real-life diversity of users and capabilities.

One point not (I think) appropriate for inclusion in the written talking points is the specter of an intelligence czar with a separate chain of command and tentacles throughout the government. Shades of J. Edgar Hoover! Another point, perhaps only implicit in the attachment, is that, after being the President’s principal substantive intelligence adviser, the DCI’s next most important responsibility should (arguably) be to prevent abuses in CIA—rather than assuming large and distracting management functions.

The talking points are attached.

David E. McGiffert3


Talking Points Prepared in the Department of Defense4

TALKING PAPER FOR (SecDef’s Meeting with the President, 2 June 1997)


  • PRM–11

A. The most critical needs to be served by the intelligence community are:

(1) Production of sound intelligence judgments for senior policy makers. This suggests the desirability of organizational diversity in order to keep everyone honest and give room for constructive dissent.

(2) Provision of needed information (current intelligence) and analysis to a variety of types and levels of users—from top policy makers to tactical commanders in the field. This suggests arrangements which link user’s needs with tasking and disseminating mechanisms.

(3) Assurance of smooth transition from peace to crisis to war. This suggests that those organizations which will have the responsibility in crisis and wartime ought, as well, to have substantial peacetime involvement in tasking, line operations, and resource management.

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(4) Prevention of abuse. This suggests oversight mechanisms as well as checks afforded by plurality in organization.

(5) Efficient management of high dollar collection assets. This suggests a centralized approach to planning, programming, and budgeting of collection programs.

(6) A balance between the funds devoted to intelligence and the funds devoted to other programs. This suggests arrangements to promote cost/benefit trade-offs between intelligence and non-intelligence programs as occurs where intelligence budgeting is not centralized.

B. These objectives inherently conflict to some degree. (One of the frustrations of the current PRM–11 exercise is the assumption—sometimes implicit, sometimes wishful—by many that they do not conflict.) For example, to centralize everything in the DCI may prejudice transition from peace to crisis to war or disrupt the needs of military intelligence even in peacetime. To centralize everything in DoD may overemphasize the needs of tactical commanders at the expense of national users. Therefore the first question must be which, if any, of these (at least six) objectives should have priority.

C. In my judgment, the two overriding goals must be: in war and peace, (1) the production of reliable judgments for the President, and (2) the timely provision of intelligence to the other various levels of users. I would put (4) higher in the list except that I think it can be handled in a way that does not conflict with the two I have listed.

D. To the extent these central goals are not being achieved, the problem is not structural. The DCI has adequate authority already to task pertinent collection assets and set collection priorities. The centralization which you (the President) are being pressed to endorse has to do with resource management. It might produce more cost-effective management of collection resources—although this is by no means clear given the current mechanisms for eliminating redundancy and making trade-offs. But in the process such centralization is likely to make achievement of the overriding goals—reliable judgments and timely provision of intelligence to all users—more difficult.

(1) Centralization tends to erode the diversity of analysis which keeps judgments honest. No President can afford to have this happen. Without the TRW contract advice to CIA as well as the Aerospace Corp advice to the AF, the controversy over Soviet warhead weights would have been suppressed. Without similar diversity, so would that over BACKFIRE range, and Soviet ICBM accuracy, and the fraction of Soviet GNP devoted to military expenditures. In some of these, CIA was correct; in others, it was incorrect; in still others, the correct answer is not yet known but, without diversity, the right answer is much less likely to emerge until a painfully later time.

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(2) The more management responsibilities any DCI has, the less he can concentrate on his preeminently important function of providing sound intelligence judgments for senior policy makers. In some ways this is analogous to the (now-resolved) problem of combining the offices of the Secretary of State and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs or any other line and staff jobs.

(3) Peacetime separation of intelligence collection assets from the Department of Defense may compromise wartime operation, particularly during the critical phase of initial hostilities. Absent military-oriented career patterns and organizational arrangements, how can these organizations retain military expertise so that SecDef or the Commander-in-Chief can fulfill their wartime obligations? More generally, under the Constitution and the National Security Act, the President and SecDef are rightly held responsible for many operational matters in peace and war. These decisions involve many other factors, but their execution depends critically on intelligence collection, production, analysis, and judgments. How can this be reconciled with control in DCI whose role is quite different? A reasonable analogy is the difference in effectiveness between SACEUR, who has no command role in peacetime, and the US CINCs who do.

(4) Centralization would unrealistically complicate the provision of resources supporting collection. DOD can more effectively run the submarines, launchers, ranges, aircraft, etc., involved—assets which, moreover, ordinarily perform non-intelligence functions as well. They fall within the military chain of command from which DCI is by law excluded even if he is a serving officer.

(5) Centralization tends to unbalance the system’s servicing of user needs. The present organizational pluralism provides creative tension in this regard and does not interfere with the DCI’s exercise of his existing authority to task DOD collection assets to fulfill his needs. Although you (the President) may hear generalized assertions that the DCI needs more tasking authority and/or line control, I have asked for but not received concrete examples of how the absence of such authority has prevented DCI (as opposed to some analyst in CIA) from getting the data he has wanted.

(6) Finally, centralization in the DCI would not solve the question of abuse. Indeed, it has been in CIA where the most damaging abuses have occurred. None of those scandals would have been avoided by giving DCI control over DOD and other intelligence assets.

E. Even if the centralization being pressed on you was not likely to make achievement of primary goals more difficult, there would be no compelling case for change. The collegial arrangement established only last year by EO 11905 gave the DCI more influence over DOD intelligence resource allocation. Its corollary disadvantage from DOD’s [Page 258] point of view was to tend to immunize the intelligence portion of the DOD budget from inspection in relation to other defense functions. This disadvantage aside, the system seems to have worked fairly well and is, in any event, too new to have had a fair trial.

F. Recommendations

(1) We ought to give the system created by EO 11905 a more complete trial, with perhaps greater flexibility for budget trade-offs between defense intelligence and non-intelligence functions.

(2) If significant change nevertheless seems necessary, perhaps the most sensible immediate step would be to give the DCI veto power over intelligence portions of DOD, State, and other agency budgets.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330–81–0761, NSCPRM–11 Secretary Talking Paper 6/15. Secret.
  2. Brown met with President Carter in the Oval Office from 4:05 until 5:05 p.m. on June 2. Mondale, Brzezinski, and Jack Watson, Secretary to the Cabinet, also attended the meeting. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No minutes of this meeting were found..
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. Secret.