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Thought provoking Tim Weiner quote

[ by Charles Cameron — mission statement? perhaps not — but definitely mission critical ]

In five words:

Know your enemy: that’s intelligence.

Weiner may not have the whole picture, but he sure puts an interesting spin on things.

7 Responses to “Thought provoking Tim Weiner quote”

  1. Andy Says:

    Weiner’s spin, interesting choice of words.  I’ll just post this review of Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” by noted intelligence historian, Jeffrey Richelson:


  2. zen Says:

    Tim Weiner is a political polemicist who knows very well he is revising history. Anything he writes should be taken with a grain of salt

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, duly noted, and fetching salt.
    Even so, it’s the juxtaposition of “Know your enemy” (I’m thinking Sun Tzu here, rather than Rage Against the Machine) with “that’s intelligence” that intrigues me.  I was hoping we might discuss how much of intelligence actually is, and how much should be, knowing your enemy? 
    Another question I’d like to tackle after reading Weiner’s letter…  He writes about “our inability to harmonize our military, diplomatic, and intelligence instruments of war”.  Does that seem right, is diplomacy an instrument of war?  I suppose this is really a Clausewitz “continuation by other means” question on my part…

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    I said above that Weiner “may not have the whole picture” and linked there to the CIA’s mission statement, which describes three components of its mandate:

    Collecting information that reveals the plans, intentions and capabilities of our adversaries and provides the basis for decision and action.
    Producing timely analysis that provides insight, warning and opportunity to the President and decisionmakers charged with protecting and advancing America’s interests.
    Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve US policy objectives.

    Richelson’s critique of Weiner (whose book I haven’t read, and doubt I will) describes a five-fold mission:

    During its 60-year existence, the agency has been engaged in five significant types of activities: human intelligence (the proverbial spying); technical collection (and other scientific and technological activities); analysis (efforts to interpret the present and divine the future); counterintelligence (actions taken to defeat adversaries’ intelligence services); and covert action (a grab-bag of activities, all of which are intended to produce political outcomes deemed beneficial to U.S. interests).

    Again, my main interest would be to know how important ## 1 and 2 in the CIA’s own list, or ## 1-3 in Richelson’s, should be, compared with the CIA’s #3 and Richelson’s ## 4 & 5. 
    And are they in fact separable?

  5. Mr. X Says:

    This translation of a Russian wondering about the idiocy of the American spy apparently ‘caught’ by FSB last week in Moscow seems appropriate, if one will forgive the now un-PC Soviet joke: 


  6. Andy Says:

    Know your enemy: that’s intelligence.

    What about intelligence regarding the internal stability of an ally?  What about intelligence on regional economics and how it affects balance of power?  What about intelligence to support the evacuation of American citizens from countries around the world in the event of a crisis or natural disaster?  There is a whole lot more to intelligence than knowing your enemy. 

  7. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Andy:
    I think the rather broad statement “Know your enemy: that’s intelligence” was probably intended to say “let others do the hunting down and killing.”  It’s the “intelligence gathering & analysis vs operations” distinction I imagine he’s after.  But yes, definitely, knowing your environment and indeed knowing yourself are also requisite!

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