Association of Former Intelligence Officers

GERMAN AUTHORS EVALUATE INTELLIGENCE - Two books on intelligence recently published in Germany raise some interesting discussion points. Headquarters Germany (by Hans Klaus and Andreas Robert, Edition Ost, 381 pp, DM 24.80) raises questions about the value of expensive intelligence bureaucracies with it's thesis that intelligence efforts by the Communists and the CIA in Europe largely canceled each other out. This book, and the one by Udo Ulfkotte entitled Verschlussache - BND (Koehler & Amelang, 368 pp, DM 48), raise questions on modern intelligence bureaucracies in terms of scope, analysis relevance, and cover.

In terms of scope, the authors draw attention to the waste or resources involved in the effort of spying on friendly countries. France and the US have frequently exchanged protests on this score in recent years. In a more amusing example, the British electronic eavesdropping services recently advertised on the Internet for speakers of German - a country on which England, at least officially, does not spy. The authors posit that state-sponsored industrial espionage wastes taxpayer money and negatively impacts on friendly relations, and that this excessive scope adds to unwieldy bureaucracies.

A second point raised is the relevance of the end result - should analysis be done in-house or by the users? The authors cite in-house analyses by the central German BND as producing many reports of marginal relevance (e.g. on water resources in the Middle East), and cite Chancellor Herbert Kohl's remark that he learns more from the newspapers than from the BND.

As commentary it may be noted that it is always difficult to put a value on intelligence, but the British are making an effort. Each overseas intelligence post is evaluated within the Secret Intelligence Services on the relation of it's cost to the value of its information -- how much the in-house "customers" in London will "pay" for its information in notional accounting units. Without further details on this scheme it would appear that such a system is also open to numerous mind-games.

The third issue relates to cover - official or non-official. There are many disadvantages to official cover. The Mossad has practiced successfully for many years under non-official cover (e.g. businessmen, accountants etc.). It is more risky, but also more productive, and many intelligence services are said to be moving towards this model. (Based on review in The Economist, March 28th, page 82) (RJ)

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #18-98, 11 May 1998

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