Friday, May 27, 2005

Doing Intel Right

I recently stumbled across this essay from Herbert Meyer, the former Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) during the Reagan Administration. As the intelligence community struggles to reorganize, Mr. Meyer reminds us that genuine reform means getting the right information to the right people at the right time--and not creating more organizational diagrams and flow charts.

Reading the essay, I can't find a reason to dispute Meyer's central thesis: our intelligence failures were caused by putting the wrong people in charge. Is that problem being fixed? The jury's still out on that one, but Porter Goss's recent house-cleaning and the CIA, coupled with recent staff appointments by DNI John Negroponte, give me some reason for hope.

I will add this: the problem Mr. Meyer describes is not limited to the upper echelons of the intelligence community. Our leadership woes extend into the ranks of middle management as well, where many bureaucrats are more concerned with career building and feather-bedding than effective intelligence collection and analysis.

Solving that problem may be the ultimate challenge in fixing our intelligence mess.

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