Monday, January 4, 2010

National Intelligence Officers

The most recent chairman of the NIC is Ambassador Robert L. Hutchings, who had
previously served in the State Department and in academic institutions.12 In addition,
there are senior analysts, known as National Intelligence Officers (NIOs), for Africa, East
Asia, Economics and Global Issues, Europe, Intelligence Assurance, Latin America,
Military Issues, Near East and South Asia, Russia and Eurasia, Transnational Threats,
Warning, and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation. The NIOs, who do not
receive Senate confirmation, come from a variety of government agencies, inside and
outside the Intelligence Community, and from the private sector.

National Intelligence Officers supervise the production of NIEs and other
community-wide products. Typically, an analyst in one agency is designated by the
relevant NIO to prepare a draft analytical product; the draft then is reviewed by relevant
analysts throughout the Community. Subsequently, if approved by the leadership of the
Intelligence Community (the National Foreign Intelligence Board) and the DCI, the draft
has been circulated to policymakers in the Executive Branch and, on occasion, to
Members of Congress. NIEs set forth the best information and judgments of the
Intelligence Community and are usually directed at significant issues that may require
policy decisions.

The NIOs have worked for the DCI in his capacity as head of the Intelligence
Community rather than in his capacity as director of the CIA. (In the future they will
report to the DNI.) Thus, NIEs and related analytical products have not been CIA
products; they have represented the consolidated views of the Intelligence Community
(with alternative views held by elements of the Intelligence Community noted, in
accordance with the statutory mandate).13

It may be reasonably assumed that the NIC will continue to depend heavily on the
resources of the CIA. The CIA contains the most extensive analytical capability across
the board on all subjects that might concern national policymakers, as well as
considerable capability to support military commanders and mid-level desk officers. The
CIA was originally designed to be “central,” without obligations to support departmental
objectives as has been considered to be the case with the intelligence arms of the military
services and the State Department. In some areas, however, other agencies have more
extensive capabilities and can make an equal or greater contribution to NIEs and other
products designed to express the judgments of the entire Intelligence Community. Some
critics, moreover, charge that CIA on occasion develops an agency “position” that tends
to discourage alternate perspectives.14


12 For a listing of the NIOs and a description of the NIC’s functions, see here.

13 50 USC 403-3(b)(2)(A).

14 See S.Rept. 108-301, pp. 27-29.

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