Reviews by Alec Chambers

Westerfield, ed., Inside CIA's Private World

H. Bradford Westerfield, ed. Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Readers of the intelligence literature must be beginning to feel the weight of the curse of living in interesting times. The end of the Cold War has led to a rush of Cold Warriors wishing to have their stories told, academic studies of declassified documents, some excellent work by historians, and the declassification of major secrets such as this summer's final disclosure of the VENONA project by the NSA and the continuing disclosures from the former Soviet Union through the Cold War International History Project. Weighing in at the end of an excellent year is this most valuable contribution: a selection of declassified articles from the CIA's in-house journal Studies in Intelligence.

Thirty-two articles published in Studies between 1955 and 1992, most of which had been classified as "Confidential" or "Secret," have been selected by H. Bradford Westerfield (Damon Wells Professor of International Studies at Yale). Westerfield, who has taught in the field of intelligence operations but who has never been affiliated with the CIA, was a wise choice to make the selection. He was able to approach every article he reviewed without any prior exposure and with a very active intellect. In a brief introduction, which includes what must be the best nutshell history of the CIA ever written, Westerfield outlines the origins of Studies and describes the labors he undertook to select articles and have them declassified. In the course of the selection, he did ask for several articles to be declassified even though he knew the chances of declassification were slim. He was pleased to have some declassified, but understands why some were not.

After declassification some names and places are still blacked out, but only one article, dealing with intelligence support at an international conference, shows any significant deletia. Most importantly, he describes the challenges he faced in avoiding the possibility or the impression of being co-opted by the CIA. The articles selected concentrate on intelligence problems in the Cold War and so omit historical studies. Also there are no articles on covert political action, apparently Studies never published anything on the topic, and nothing about signals intelligence (it is the bailiwick of the NSA, which doesn't talk about such things in public.)

The articles are arranged into seven sections:

* Imagery Intelligence

* Overt Human Intelligence Collection

* Clandestine Human Intelligence Collection

* Humint and its Consumers

* The Analysis Function

* Analysis and its Consumers

* Counterespionage

Each article is headed by a couple of sentences, unobtrusive yet helpful marginalia, from Westerfield with only the odd footnote by way of clarification. The quality of writing is excellent throughout and this means that Westerfield can let the articles speak for themselves. The collection starts with a fascinating article on image intelligence in monitoring the Soviet nuclear program that also teaches a few lessons about all-source intelligence and ends with a war story about the travails of being a double agent in the early days of the Cold War. This is the only war story in the book (and a very good one it is) because the bulk of the book concentrates on the intellectual processes of intelligence. It is this focus that distinguishes the book from just about everything else in the public domain.

The sections on Humint cover the responsibilities of the officers who must screen, select and forward raw information whilst keeping a fragile peace with the State Department that gives them their cover. The longest and most complex article in the book, on the conflict between currency in reporting and clandestinity in collection, is in the covert Humint section. The sections on analysis are the most fascinating, revealing a state of great intellectual ferment in the Directorate of Intelligence. Analysts are obviously continuously challenged, by themselves and by others, to find ways of producing analyses of greater utility, better addressed to the requirements of the individual consumer, in good time. Articles on decision-making, including one on computer models as tools
for support of the analyst, are the most significant in these sections. Several articles also have sections on quality control and consumer feedback in the refining of the analytical process. The final section on counterespionage includes my personal favorite, on the Nosenko affair and an article on interrogation resistance that does much to reveal what a desperate struggle those early covert operations must have been.

Two appendices include a listing of titles of the next most valuable articles, that are in the National Archives but that one hopes will be published soon, and a glossary of abbreviations, acronyms, and definitions.

The articles are written to a high standard by experienced professionals still active in their fields when they wrote. They give insights into practicalities and problems, into the challenges of collections and analysis, on how to keep up with demanding consumers in a way that no other open-source material ever has before. Every article will repay reading by anyone who is serious about intelligence, and anybody who is serious about their study of intelligence should read this book.

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