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December 16, 2004
Intelligence Reform: The New Way To Get Kicked Upstairs

If anyone harbors doubts that the new intelligence-reform act represents anything more significant than an expansion of the American patronage system, this Washington Post report by Walter Pincus should remove them all. Titled "President Gets To Fill Ranks Of New Intelligence Superstructure," Pincus blithely lists the lengthy list of new managers sitting atop an already hidebound intelligence bureaucracy:

President Bush is searching not only for a new director of national intelligence to become his chief adviser on intelligence but also for three other senior officials who will work atop the new organization created by the intelligence reform act he is scheduled to sign into law tomorrow.

Along with the job of the intelligence director, or DNI, there is to be a principal deputy DNI, a director of a new national counterterrorism center, and a general counsel to the DNI, all of whom must be presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation.

In addition, the new chief information officer for the DNI, who is to put together a computerized information-sharing system for the 15 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, will also be a presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate, under a provision of the fiscal 2005 intelligence authorization bill.

Further, the intelligence reform bill requires the president to name a chairman and a vice chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, which will review regulations and policies related to the war on terrorism. They, too, are subject to a Senate vote.

The intelligence reorganization, set in motion by the Sept. 11 commission and approved earlier this month by Congress, has created a personnel challenge for the Bush administration, which must fill a range of new senior positions as it embarks on the task of making a new intelligence organization work.

It creates more than a personnel challenge; the new positions give Congress even more opportunity to hold televised hearings while adding at least a half-dozen more filters to intelligence analysis before the President sees anything. This list of political appointees requiring Bush's attention shows that Congress and the 9/11 Commission, being bureaucrats themselves, gave the critical intelligence-reform exercize the only solution with which they have any familiarity.

And who will the President select for these open positions? Apparently not analysts or operatives, but the same people who created this "superstructure" -- politicians and bureaucrats. Porter Goss originally was considered for DNI until he cleaned house at the CIA. Now John Lehman, not coincidentally a member of the commission, has had his name added to the short list. Pincus also notes that retired military leaders would suit the new position well, in a turn of phrase that probably has Pincus' journalism professors pounding their heads on tables this morning:

One possibility for DNI is an active or retired military officer, because another provision of the bill indicates that Congress expects either the DNI or his principal deputy to be an active or retired military person.

I suppose that a job description with that expectation might make a military officer a "possibility". Tommy Franks might get the DNI position with those expectations, especially since Franks has been so supportive of Bush during the past election season. Pincus also mentions Brent Scowcroft, although he does note that Scowcroft's numerous editorials opposing Bush's foreign policy makes that rather unlikely. (No kidding.)

So what do we expect from this new superstructure that just got welded onto the defective machinery that failed to catch 9/11, missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, and fell asleep while India and Pakistan tested nukes? A dumping ground for retirees and political allies. Mind you, all of these people have good records in serving their country, but with that list of candidates, the notion of reform seems to have flown out the window in favor of adding to the status quo.

Wake us when all of that additional management results in better production.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 16, 2004 6:04 AM

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Captain Ed has seen the future, and it looks like middle management. Seriously, do all these new intelligence jobs really add anything? I can think of a few guys I'd hire before I'd add another manager. Wetwork Administrator (GS-17): Official responsib... [Read More]

Tracked on December 16, 2004 7:09 AM

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