THE NEXT DCI
President Bush is said to be closing in on his nominee to replace George Tenet as Director of Central Intelligence
. By statute the DCI
is the head of the Intelligence Community
(IC) as well as director of the CIA itself though in practice only the strongest CIA chiefs have had anything more than nominal control over the other intelligence agencies. William Casey
, as DCI, had cabinet rank and was a close adviser of President Reagan - virtually able to run his own foreign policy independent of the State Department, negotiating secretly with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan. By contrast, James Woolsey
could not even get an appointment to see President Clinton.
The IC at this critical juncture does not need a caretaker. A strong hand is needed at the CIA who has the political " juice " to walk into the Oval Office at a moment's notice - both to implement critical reforms over bureaucratic opposition and to revitalize the morale of an important and beleagured service. The War on Terror requires a spymaster who understands covert operations, military special operations troops
and a commitment to " jointness " between the Pentagon's uniformed " shadow warriors" and the clandestine paramilitaries of the CIA's special activities staff
. The future requires a brilliant and innovative thinker who comprehends technological verges and won't shrink from a radical restructuring of the entire IC so that it functions like an interdependent network instead of a collection of bureaucratic fiefdoms.
It's going to be a difficult choice. Few of the names mentioned meet all of the above criteria though the list does include some Washington insider heavyweights. A bold choice, not a strictly political one, is what the nation needs.