Cipher Brief Expert View: The IC’s Critical Role

By Joseph DeTrani

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, while also serving as a Special Adviser to the Director of National Intelligence.  He currently serves on the Board of Managers at Sandia National Laboratories.  The views expressed represent those of the author.

We are living in a more complex world, with more state and non-state actors demanding more of our attention.  When we actively contributed to the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the success of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, and the eventual demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the Baltic States and the eleven Soviet Republics declared independence, we thought the Soviet Union was a spent power, requiring minimal attention.

When we decisively defeated Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1990, after they invaded and occupied Kuwait, we thought a defeated Saddam would behave.  When we signed the Agreed Framework with North Korea in 1994, agreeing to build two civilian Light Water Reactors and while under construction provide heavy fuel oil as payment for the freezing of North Korea’s nuclear program, we though Kim Jong-il would comply and behave.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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