Breakout Session Three: Transparency: Understanding the Intelligence Community in the Information Age

  • Room: Salon G/H
Thursday, September 08, 2016: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM


Michael Wertheimer
The Chertoff Group
Alex Joel
Civil Liberties Protection Officer
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Dana Priest
John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism
University of Maryland
Jason Dandridge
Managing Director, Global Head of Fraud Operations
Morgan Stanley


The Director of National Intelligence is committed to providing the public with greater transparency into intelligence activities to improve understanding of what intelligence does and why it is important. In his Principles of Intelligence Transparency Implementation Plan, the DNI casts the tension between disclosure and transparency succinctly: “Because informing the public inevitably includes the unintended consequence of informing the nation’s adversaries as well, the IC must find a way to enhance transparency while continuing to preserve the nations’s secrets.” The Implementation Plan formally calls for an engagement strategy to include “direct engagement with external stakeholders, including the media, civil society, oversight entities, and foreign partners." To that end, a panel of distinguished individuals from the media, critical infrastructure and IT sectors will discuss the type of information and discourse they believe are necessary to achieve the DNI’s goal to build greater public trust for intelligence. 

Focus Questions

  • Are there parallels to the current encryption debate in which it can be argued that transparency serves a higher purpose than protecting sources and methods? If so, what sort of mechanism would one employ to make those decisions?
  • The Freedom of Information Act is a slow and often adversarial vehicle to expose unclassified information. What advice would you give the DNI to achieve greater speed and less friction in achieving transparency?
  • IC guidance and policies is often complicated and pedantic (EO12333, FISA, etc.). What is the mechanism by which this can be simplified and made understandable to the public?