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No military viewpoint imposed on Afghanistan analysts, CIA director says

Message from Director David H. Petraeus on Setting the Record Straight on Our Afghanistan Analysis:

An Associated Press article published today presents an inaccurate picture of my thoughts on the CIA's Afghanistan analysis. The article asserts that a change in process introduced to enhance coordination, to get our officers even earlier access to more information, and to ensure we gain the benefit of hearing from those on the ground full-time—intelligence base chiefs, civilian experts, and military officers alike—was somehow designed to impose a military viewpoint on our analysis. That is flat wrong.

No one on the CIA leadership team has directed that our analysts pay more attention to or place more weight on the views of our military colleagues. In fact, analysts here have always taken into account the full range of opinions on Afghanistan. The change has been one of process, not substance, and it was one put in place by Michael Morell when he was Acting Director of the CIA. The change was simply this: to ask our analysts to discuss their findings with working-level ISAF officers before discussing them with the ISAF leadership—the same steps, but just in a different order.

Before my confirmation and after my arrival at our Agency, I made it abundantly clear that I support strong, objective analysis. Like those of you who work the analytical side of our mission, I believe in the thorough examination of the best and broadest pool of information. Accurate, insightful, and useful intelligence analysis must always be the product of rigorous debate and free discussion. The change will in no way undermine the objectivity of DI analysis on the war in Afghanistan. We will still “call it like we see it,” but now with even better ground truth.

Michael, Fran, and I all agree that our analysis is wholly owned by our analysts. It’s yours. And when I head downtown to the White House to present the CIA’s findings, I take great pride in faithfully presenting your work to the President and to other leaders of our government. The assessments of our Directorate of Intelligence remain the gold standard for all-source intelligence analysis. The single best way our leadership team can help maintain that high performance is to do whatever we can to uphold and preserve the objectivity of your superb analysis—and I have no higher priority as Director.

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