A MORE LOGICAL APPROACH TO INTELLIGENCE REFORM
The 9/11 Commission has had a number of high profile recommendations
, notably establishing a National Intelligence Director, to reform the Intelligence Community.
I’ve blogged on it
previously. Dan Drezner also blogged about Anthony Cordesman slamming the Commission.
More or less the Commission has missed the boat. There is a problem with coordination among the 14 known agencies in the IC but we notice the problem primarily because resources have not been appropriately allocated for the tasks. We could have two agencies or fifty and it would not have mattered much if the core functions were the focus as they should have been, regardless of the number of bureaucratic offices involved.
Reform should focus on improving the ability of the IC to accomplish intelligence tasks, not on rearranging the deck chairs. The core tasks of the IC are:
4. Paramilitary Covert Operations
That’s pretty much it. Rather than creating a figurehead " Czar " to stand near the president and be some kind of intelligence cheerleader a far more profitable endeavor might be creating inter- and intra –agency networking groups to work on topical problems within the core tasks. In other words, build long-term teams that are geared toward task completion instead of defending institutional turf . Giving exceptionally bright analysts the chance to see a more comprehensive data picture will change their perceptions of probable outcomes. It may also lead them to seek more open source material that currently gets ignored but is useful in evaluating the intel we do receive in context.
Arguably, this makes the job of Counterintelligence far harder by breaking down redundant, need-to know, compartmentalization that has always prevailed in the IC.
I have to question however, whether the model of Counterintelligence that even the fanatical James Jesus Angleton
could not make work is really what the USG should be using when the rationale for that security regime, the USSR, no longer exists. Neither al Qaida nor a state level " peer competitor " like China have the capacity to penetrate our IC like the Soviets did and " connect the dots". Our current security structure, left over from the Cold War seems to be more effective at keeping ourselves blind than in keeping spies out so perhaps a complete rethinking of Counterintelligence strategy might be warranted.
Of course, none of this will happen if Congress takes the easy, election year route of stampeding down the primrose path of the 9/11 Commission.
" Imperial Hubris" author barred from speaking out on intelligence reform
by the CIA.
A view of intelligence from the field