On the fiftieth anniversary of C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” lecture, do we confront two cultures of intelligence? The following is excerpted from a more extensive consideration of the proposed merger of the Homeland Security Council staff with the NSC staff. I have been asked not to identify author or audience.
In my judgment integration of the NSC and the HSC, or the full integration of their respective staffs, could potentially contribute to breaking down barriers to sharing intelligence across the federal government. Such integration would, however, potentially undermine progress – and delay further progress – in sharing intelligence information between the Federal government and its State, local, and tribal partners. The culture of intelligence appropriate for National Security is in tension with the culture of intelligence most helpful to Homeland Security. In the National Security domain there is a real need for protecting covert sources and methods and not communicating to possible adversaries what is known. In the Homeland Security domain there is much greater value in sharing information more broadly and openly. In Homeland Security there is often an advantage to self-consciously depend on open sources of intelligence and avoid covert operations in all but a few cases. The differences between National Security and Homeland Security are healthy differences. Fully integrating the HSC staff into the NSC staff would, I expect, discourage full development of the unique approach to intelligence gathering and analysis needed by Homeland Security.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Please consider — and contribute to — the substantive, thoughtful, and diverse comments made to this post. While the comments suggest a widely shared goal, there is disagreement regarding how best to achieve the goal. The relationship (or not) of structure to substance is often referenced. Some are inclined to be more holistic and others more categorical. I am reminded of Isaiah Berlin’s distinction of the fox and the hedgehog.