Saturday, May 06, 2006

Today's Reading Assignment

...from the always-incisive Rick Moran at Right Wing Huthouse. In the wake of the Goss resignation, Rick asks the $64,000 question: Just How Dysfunctional are Our Intelligence Agencies? When it comes to the CIA, the answer is "very." Rick has assembled a plateful of pummeling facts from media sources and the 9-11 Commisson report, painting a picture of an agency that was in serious trouble long before Porter Goss was named DCI.

Meanwhile, critics of Goss and/or the Bush Administration are having their say, telling the WaPo's Dana Priest that the departing CIA director was ineffective, he alientated the work force, drove off senior managers, and made the situation at Langley worse, not better. Priest even rustles up a few quotes that downplay the political war between the White House and the anti-Bush cabal within the intelligence agency.

Obviously, Dana Priest has no interest in citing reports and articles that paint a very different picture of the "relations" between the Bush Administration and its critics at Langley. But, as Rick Moran reminds us, there is ample evidence of a vicious, partisan conflict pitting elements within the intelligence community squarely against the White House. Winning that war, while reforming the CIA, represent the two critical challenges facing the next director.

Addendum: for whatever it's worth, I don't believe our other spy agencies are as dysfunctional as the CIA (thank God). The Defense Intelligence Agency is in the midst of a major re-organization that will transform intel analysis within the military; NSA is infinitely better off than it was in the late 90s (thanks to General Hayden's reform plans); NGA's problems are largely external, i.e., collecting against adversaries that are increasingly aware of our overhead platforms and capabilities. The NRO has some issues regarding the next generation of spy satellites, but agency still produces technical marvels that belie its relatively small size. Even the FBI has improved its intelligence capabilities, thanks (in part) to the removal of the "Gorelick Wall" by the Bush Administration, enhancing its ability to work with other agencies.

In other words, the CIA remains the most dysfunctional member of the intelligence family. And I think General Hayden will implement the most effective solution: reassign its analytical assets to the National Intelligence Council (working under the DNI), and refocus the CIA on two core missions: HUMINT and covert ops. The result will be a CIA that is much smaller, more focused, and (ultimately) more effective.

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