American Intelligence

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: Fighting Communism guided American foreign policy for fifty years. Now what will organize our efforts? Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says it's an especially important question for the CIA.

The world's still a dangerous place, with terrorism, black market weapons of mass destruction and regional wars.

Gathering information is critical. But for intelligence agencies to do their job, the president and secretary of state must set clear goals and define America's interests. Too often, priorities are muddled, and the agencies' efforts are misguided and their results ignored.

Here's a plan to improve performance.

First, expand the shrinking analytic capabilities. Satellites can't do it all. We need human intelligence - a fancy way of saying spies - and more people who can accurately analyze their information.

Second, do a better job of getting that information to foreign policy decision-makers.

Third, improve the clandestine service and decide precisely what secrets it needs to provide and how. It's been publicly embarrassed lately, but its work's essential.

Fourth, upgrade economic intelligence; not spying on foreign companies, but analyzing and understanding international economic forces.

If anything, the world's a less predictable, more inscrutable place since Ronald Reagan won the cold war, and our front line of defense is no longer our missiles. It's our spies.

Well, those are my ideas. And at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.