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December 2, 2004
Tenet Joins Fight Against 9/11 Intelligence Reform

As the debate grows on the 9/11 intelligence-reform bill and the voices of political correctness face increasing challenge, George Tenet added his own voice to the opposition. The Washington Post reports that Tenet objects to severing a national intelligence "czar" from the operatives who collect and analyze the data with an extra level of bureaucracy, a point I made at the time the commission released its report:

Former CIA director George J. Tenet yesterday criticized an intelligence restructuring bill's plan to create a director of national intelligence, saying it would separate the new intelligence chief from direct control over the case officers and analysts who are overseas and "taking risks." ...

A senior administration official echoed that position privately yesterday, asking "who will brief Congress and the president" under the new proposal? "Since the CIA director would continue to supervise all-source intelligence analysis within the government," said this official, who has long intelligence experience, the proposed director of national intelligence would be "a new layer" in the process.

When the 9/11 Commission delivered its report to Congress and the American people, a number of politicians -- chiefly John Kerry -- insisted that Congress and the President enact their recommendations in total and immediately. The media and the 9/11 families have pressured the government ever since to do so. However, blue-ribbon panels do not render infallible judgments, and in this case, the recommendations made appear much more likely to cause more problems than they could possibly resolve.

Taking Tenet's point first, the new intelligence czar position which the commission arrogantly directed to be the primary advisor to the President winds up putting at least one more layer of bureaucracy between the President and the people doing the intelligence collection and analysis. Instead of restructuring the alphabet soup of agencies currently doing this work, the commission just slapped a layer of directors on top of the whole mess and put one person in charge of it all. For a Congress who expressed concern that George Bush did not get enough dissenting opinion, placing two more layers of filtering between the analysts and the PDB only makes this problem worse, not better.

This does not take a rocket scientist to figure out. As bureaucracies grow in either the private or public sector, the people who get farther removed from the ground work hear less and less of the truth. The solution for better analysis is never more management, but more and better analysts with increased access to the decision-makers. The private sector learned this twenty years ago and streamlined their bloated management structures to accommodate it. Unfortunately, the 9/11 Commission consisted of nothing but lifelong bureaucrats who see extended management structures as the solution for all problems.

As I wrote before, we should thank the 9/11 Commission for their hard work and especially for their excellent reconstruction of the events of that terrible day. We should not, however, implement their recommendations simply because they made them. We need to proceed very carefully before we do serious damage to our intelligence and response capabilities.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 2, 2004 6:44 AM

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Tenet leaving the CIA was absolutely one of the most important changes to have taken place in our efforts to improve our intelligence efforts. He was a career bureaucrat and was never going to hold to account those inside the CIA who were obstructing... [Read More]

Tracked on December 2, 2004 9:04 AM

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