Michelle K. Van Cleave

Van Cleave was National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) from July 2003 to March 2006.

Van Cleave, Michelle K. Counterintelligence and National Strategy. Washington, DC: School for National Security Executive Education, National Defense University Press, Apr. 2007.

For the author, the NCIX was established "to ensure the integration and strategic direction of CI community operations and and resources." A strategic approach to CI "is within reach, but we are not there yet.... [T]he DNI bureaucracy has become part of the problem as CI responsibilities have been dispersed across the the DNI organization." The bilateral interactions among the FBI, CIA, and military services "do not equal a cohesive, integrated whole." We need "an elite national CI strategic operations center ... to integrate and orchestrate the disparate operational and analytic activities across the CI community."

[CI/00s; DNI/07]

Van Cleave, Michelle. "Foreign Spies Are Serious. Are We?" Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2009, B3. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Van Cleave argues that the nation's counterintelligence program "is on life support.... [A]cross the government, our counterintelligence capabilities are in decay. The struggle against foreign intelligence threats has a national leadership in name only. Nor is it driven by any overall strategy, which means that integrating the efforts of the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community has taken a back seat to individual agencies' priorities."

She maintains that the 2003 law that established the NCIX position "created a national executive but not the means of execution. Things got even more confused after 2005, with the creation of the nation's first director of national intelligence (DNI).... In setting up his new office, the first DNI ... delegated the authority" for much of the counterintelligence work "to his own newly created deputies." The NCIX was named the DNI's "principal adviser on the problem. But an adviser is not a leader." And in essence the NCIX and accompanying staff "became just another layer of the weighty bureaucracy" of the DNI's office.

There is still "no central clearing-house to support operations against the spies who are working against us around the globe or to formulate policy options for President Obama and his top aides. And we still know surprisingly little about hostile intelligence services relative to the amount of harm they can do.... So we have to choose. We can handle these threats piecemeal, or we can pull together a strategic program -- one team, one plan, one goal -- to reduce the overall danger."


Van Cleave, Michelle. "Snowden, Manning, and the Next Leak: What Now?" Intelligencer 20, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 2013): 17-21.

This article would have been more useful without the anti-administration diatribe at the end.


Van Cleave, Michelle K. "Strategic Counterintelligence: What Is It and What Should We Do About It?" Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 2 (2007): 1-13. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no2/strategic-counterintelligence.html]

"[T]o the extent strategic counterintelligence (CI) is addressed within CI or intelligence circles, it is controversial, poorly understood, and even more poorly executed because it does not fit comfortably within the existing architecture and approach to counterintelligence as it has developed within the United States.... In my view, the US CI community is at a crossroads. Either strategic counterintelligence is a theoretical construct with little to no place in the real world of US intelligence, in which case we really do not need a national level effort to direct it [the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX)]; or it is a compelling national security mission. If it is the latter, we are losing precious time and advantage and should get on with the job."


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