Charles E. Allen

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Appointed by George W. Bush, Charles E. Allen, of North Carolina, is the "Assistant Secretary for Information Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Allen served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He served with the CIA since 1958. Prior to his appointment as Special Assistant, Mr. Allen served as Assistant Director of Intelligence for Collection. He also served as Chief of Intelligence in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. Earlier in his career, Mr. Allen was assigned overseas in an intelligence liaison capacity. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill." --White House Personnel Announcement, August 23, 2005. [1]

Richard Ben-Veniste, attorney and a former 9/11 Commissioner, submitted written testimony October 19, 2005 to the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that said the Senate should have confirmed Allen. "Under the secretary's proposed reorganization, there is no official below the level of the secretary with department-wide intelligence responsibilities who would be confirmed by, and accountable to, Congress." [1]

Career Highlights Central Intelligence Agency

  • Served with the CIA since 1958, holding a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, both analytic and managerial.
  • Served as Assistant Director of Central Intelligence [ADCI] for Collection, June 1998 until June 2005. In that capacity, he was in charge of coordinating all the community spy systems and chaired the National Intelligence Collection Board, which ensures that collection is integrated and coordinated across the intelligence community.
"Appointed as Assistant Director of Central Intelligence (ADCI) for Collection, coordinating the entire intelligence community intelligence collection system, was Charles Allen, a thirty year veteran operations officer. He will oversee the decisions of the various committees deciding the targets of national systems. He allegedly was chosen on the basis of his reputation for holding contrarian views and willingness to challenge the system." [5]
  • Assistant Director, Central Intelligence Agency (1999) [6]

C.I.A. Inspector General's Report on 9/11 Intelligence Failures

In August 2005 the New York Times reported that supporters of former C.I.A. Director George Tenet were critical of the CIA Inspector General's report on the intelligences failures ahead of the September 11 terrorist attacks for having failed to interview Allen, who was assistant director of central intelligence for collection.

"In 1998, after Al Qaeda's bombing of two American embassies in East Africa, it was Mr. Allen whom Mr. Tenet assigned to organize the agency's efforts against the terrorist network, according to testimony Mr. Tenet gave last year. He said that at the advice of Mr. Allen, he created a special unit with officers from the C.I.A., the eavesdropping National Security Agency and the satellite photo agency to meet daily and focus on Al Qaeda's leaders and headquarters in Afghanistan," the article stated. [7]

Comments About Charles Allen

Mark Perry offers this commentary about Allen based on information from colleagues [Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, Mark Perry, 1992, p. 211]:

  • "An eccentric workaholic who often picked fights with superiors"
  • "A tall greying man given to sober suits and precise grammar."
  • "More than just a little weird; it was hard to know just where he was coming from."
  • "At times during his career Allen seemed almost out of control as he often spent all night at his office and made unreasonable demands on his secretarial staff."
  • "Allen was known for his offbeat views, and his detractors said he had a huge ego."
  • "A 'brilliant man' with 'a yen for controversy'"

From an August 2004 U.S. News & World Report article:

"...more of a legend than a man around the CIA. 'If you don't think you're getting your money's worth out of the federal government,' says an admirer, 'you should meet Charlie Allen.' A workaholic, Allen had served as an intelligence officer for 40 years and earned a reputation as a plain-spoken professional who regularly bucked the bureaucracy..."[8]

Duane Clarridge remarked in his memoir:

"He [Allen] was a bit of a maverick; bright absolutely dedicated, on occasion short on diplomacy, and a workaholic." [ A Spy For All Seasons: My Life in the CIA, Duane R. Clarridge, Scribner, 1997, pg. 340 ]

1998 Presentation to Japanese / PPD-35

Allen's June 22 1998 presentation entitled "Intelligence Community Overview For Japanese Visitors, Public Security Investigation Agency" was published July 2000 on the Cryptome website.

The presentation reviews "PDD-35," which set intelligence priorities. Providing strategic warning to US national interests was the highest priority, followed by supporting military commanders. Below the tiers of strategic intelligence and military support was a focus on "Rogue States" and "Strategic Nuclear Powers" and transnational issues, including: Proliferation Nuclear; Command and Control; Terrorism; Narcotics; Regional Conflict/Negotiation; and International Organized Crime. Pursuant to PDD-35, the slides note the establishment of the following "executive boards": Iran, Jul 96 ; China, Oct 96; North Korea]], Jan 97; Cuba, Jan 97; and Russia, May 97. The slides note that in the "Tier II" or "Watch Tier" countries with potential for a major crisis in 6-12 months were Algeria, Angola, Burundi/Rwanda, Cambodia, Congo (Kinshasa), Haiti, and Indonesia.

While it is difficult to draw much from this presentation, it is worth noting that Iraq was not among the enumerated priorities. George Tenet was a principal author of PPD-35. In the Congressional Joint Inquiry Staff's (JIS's) review of the September 11 attacks, JIS Staff Director Eleanor Hill wrote:

"PDD 35 was never amended despite language that required an annual review. As certain threats, including terrorism, increased in the late 1990s, none of the "lower level" Tier 1 priorities were down-graded so that resources (money and people) could be reallocated. To much of the Intelligence Community, everything was a priority -- the U.S. wanted to know everything about everything all the time...the vagueness of PDD-35 quickly translated into an overburdened requirements system within the Intelligence Community."

Gulf War: Bombing of Amiriyah Shelter

Allen supported the selection of bomb targets during the the first Gulf War. He coordinated intelligence with Colonel John Warden, who headed the Air Force's planning cell known as "Checkmate." On February 10, 1991 Allen presented his estimate to Col. Warden that Public Shelter Number 25 in the Southwestern Baghdad suburb of Amiriyah had become an alternative command post and showed no sign of being used as a civilian bomb shelter.

Satellite photos and electronic intercepts indicating this alternative use were regarded as circumstantial and unconvincing to Brigadier General Buster Glosson, who had primary responsibility for targeting. Glosson's comment was that the assessment wasn't "worth a shit." A human source in Iraq, who had previously proven accurate warned the CIA that Iraqi intelligence had begun operating from the shelter. On February 11, Shelter Number 25 was added to the Air Force's attack plan. At 4:30 am the morning of February 13, two F-117 stealth bombers each dropped a 2,000 pound, laser-guided, GBU-27 munition on the shelter. The first cut through ten feet of reinforced concrete before a time-delayed fuse exploded. Minutes later the second bomb followed the path cut by the first bomb. [ Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War, 1993, p. 284-285 ]

In the shelter at the time of the bombing were hundreds of Iraqi civilians. More than 400 people, mostly women and children were killed. Men and boys over the age of 15 had left the shelter to give the women and children some privacy. Jeremy Bowen, a BBC correspondent, was one of the first television reporters on the scene. Bowen was given access to the site and did not find evidence of military use. [ Report aired BBC 1, February 14, 1991 ]

Gulf War: Warning of War

"One high-level intelligence official on the National Intelligence Council (NIC), charged with advising the DCI, was more forward leaning than the analytic judgments published in the NID. The National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Warning Charles Allen on 25 July [1998] issued a 'warning of war' memorandum in which he stressed that Iraq had nearly achieved the capability to launch a corps-sized operation of sufficient mass to occupy much of Kuwait. The memo judged that the chances of a military operation of some sort at better than 60 percent."

Iran Contra

  • From Nomination of Robert M. Gates of Virginia, to be Director of Central Intelligence (Senate: November 5, 1991), Congressional Record: Extract:
"On September 9, 1986, a senior CIA analyst, Charles Allen, wrote a memo on the arms sales to Iran, a copy of which went to Mr. Gates. He also claims to have talked to Mr. Gates regarding shipments of arms to Iran. Mr. Gates cannot recall the conversation or receiving the memo." Re Iran/Contra scandal.
  • "A number of outspoken analysts bitterly criticized him [Allen] for bending his views to political expediency during the Iran initiative. Allen, they said, took advantage of his access to Casey to promote a political line - that an opening could be made to Iranian moderates-that could not be supported by the information they had gathered on Iran's internal politics. Allen played the White House game, these critics claimed, by using contrived information provided by CIA consultant George Cave to support the Iran program. 'Charlie Allen briefed the NSC on the basis of Cave's disinformation,' a senior CIA analyst explains."

[Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, Mark Perry, 1992, p. 215.]

Reprimand By William Webster

Director of Central Intelligence William Webster formally reprimanded Allen for failing to comply with the DCI's request for full cooperation in the agency's internal Iran-Contra scandal investigation. After failing to have the reprimand lifted through the regular appeal process, Allen retained future DCI James Woolsey as an attorney and was successful in applying pressure to have the reprimand lifted.

Mark Perry observes "Ironically, Allen's attack on Webster was as unjustified as Webster's reprimand." The reprimand stemmed from a set of missing papers found in Allen's office containing information on the arms-for-hostages deal. Allen claimed they had been inadvertently overlooked in a messy office. Supporters of Allen pointed out that Webster reprimanded the one person in the CIA who had brought his suspicions of a funds diversion to Robert Gates. Others asserted that Allen simply did not respect Webster.

[Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, Mark Perry, 1992, p. 216.]

Continuity of Government

From 1980 to November 1982, Allen was detailed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he was deputy director of a continuity of government planning project. A colleague quoted Allen as saying during a COG meeting, "our job is to throw the Constitution out the window." His assignment to the COG project brought him into contact with Oliver North, who was delegated to monitor COG's findings by National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane.

[Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA, Mark Perry, 1992, p. 215.]


From 1974 to 1977, he was stationed in Canberra, Australia, in an intelligence liaison capacity. Served under CIA Station Chiefs M. Corely Wonus (1934-1992) and John Walker (1921-2002).

The Yom Kippur War

A Government Executive article recounting Allen's history at the CIA noted:

"Allen hasn't always been right, of course. He also has been catastrophically wrong. In 1973, he reviewed intelligence showing Egypt and Syria running military exercises along the Israeli border and decided it was a bluff. He wrote as much in the President's Daily Brief that went to Richard Nixon. Shortly thereafter, the two countries invaded Israel, launching the Yom Kippur War."


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