Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert A. Martin
Q: What was your impression of the information you were getting from the CIA?
MARTIN: On Iran and Iraq?
Q: Well, really all over and including intelligence from the military as well as the CIA.
MARTIN: To digress slightly, the United States has so many channels and has mounted so many efforts to gather information and has been so successful in that that there is just a huge, huge, huge amount of various sorts of information, both photographic, and electronic communications, well above and beyond the human intelligence, of which there is a huge amount as well. But it is very difficult really to gather all that in and get on top of it in a way to be able effectively to use it. So that is one aspect of the intelligence side of things.
At the same time there certainly is a proprietary view of the intelligence that the CIA gathers in various ways, or that the National Security Agency, mainly picking up communications, electronic intelligence, gathers. In both cases, some of the most rarefied intelligence would be kept in a very rarefied form to be disseminated to a very rarefied level. But it is hard in most cases to do that effectively for very long because more and more people get to know about possible possibilities and begin putting two and two together and coming up with a sense of what might be available. So you can go back and press to try and test whether there is additional information of various sorts available from these various collection entities, the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency on the military side...we have come now to admit to the National Reconnaissance Organization which is run both by the CIA and Defense to pick up the photographic intelligence from the skies, the spies in the sky so to speak.
The fact of having critical intelligence that would change something on any given issue is not too frequently the case. It occasionally happens, but generally issues can be addressed very effectively and accurately on run of the mill information that comes from open sources a great deal of the time, augmented by the rather pedestrian clandestine collection, not the creme a la creme, much of the time. It is not too frequent that a critical piece of intelligence is gotten through some very delicate means is going to be crucial to a policy decision. It happens occasionally, but not very frequently. So this sort of racy stuff that would be very sexy and known by only a very small number of people is probably not too significant in policy formulation terms, although it is interesting or nice to have something that very few people have, or at least that is the sense one has until it becomes rather routine to have access to that sort of thing. But it doesn't make a huge amount of difference. There are occasions when we do get something and we have been pretty good at keeping the wraps on some fairly significant sources of information during my experience. I can't go into that sort of thing here, but it is not too frequent where that is a critical part of the equation in policy formulation terms anyway.