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Force Spies to Work Together
NY Times ^ | July 9, 2004 | FLYNT LEVERETT

Posted on 07/08/2004 10:49:55 PM PDT by neverdem



Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to release its report on the prewar intelligence on Iraq. The document is likely to make clear that America's intelligence network, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, badly needs repair.

The Senate report will also show that America's intelligence shortcomings aren't going to be addressed simply by changing C.I.A. directors. As the report should make clear, our spy services both failed to do a thorough enough job watching Iraq's weapons programs and played down evidence that challenged the prevailing assumptions that the programs were active. In addition, analysts did not critically evaluate their sources of information; instead, they marshaled the available evidence to paint the picture that policymakers wanted to see.

And how will President Bush and his administration respond to these findings? It's unlikely that they will do much of anything. After all, every independent panel that examined American post-cold-war intelligence — including President Bush's own Scowcroft commission — recognized that fundamental structural changes were needed in our intelligence services. Yet, the White House has remained steadfastly passive as critical problems have gone unaddressed. Meanwhile, administration loyalists have argued repeatedly that structural change is not needed to improve the community's performance, providing a politically comfortable rationale for the White House's inaction.

In theory, the argument against radical reform might seem plausible. The director of Central Intelligence today has sufficient authority on paper to address many of the issues that will be identified in the Senate report, like the failure of collectors and analysts to share information about sources.

But in practice, the C.I.A. has had a hard time breaking free from its culture of mediocrity. During my years in government at the C.I.A. and elsewhere, I was repeatedly told that the problems now publicly identified in the Senate report were going to be fixed. I remember years of discussion about the desirability of "co-locating" analysts and operations officers working on the same target — seeing to it that they had the equal access to information about their sources. But in the end, nothing was done to change old ways of doing business, setting the stage for the Iraq fiasco.

The story, it seems, hasn't changed much. In February, for example, Jami Miscik, the agency's deputy director of intelligence, told C.I.A. analysts in a speech that the problems with information-sharing would be fixed within 30 days. It's July, and nothing has happened.

Clearly, structural reform needs to go beyond the creation of a freestanding intelligence "czar" who would oversee the entire American spy network. We need to develop a model of "jointness" for the intelligence community, analogous to what the Goldwater-Nichols Act did for the uniformed military 18 years ago. That legislation made the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the principal military adviser to the president. It also mandated cross-service commands, defined regionally and functionally, as the operational chains of command for American military forces.

This change produced real improvement in military performance. Before Goldwater-Nichols, too many modern military missions were characterized by disaster: the botched attempt to rescue hostages in Iran, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the operational problems that plagued the invasion of Grenada.

Since Goldwater-Nichols required the armed services to collaborate, we have seen the successes of Panama, Operation Desert Storm and the outstanding battlefield performance of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This model should be applied to American intelligence. This means moving away from the current organizational structure, defined primarily along disciplinary and agency lines. (The C.I.A.'s directorate of intelligence, for example, is responsible for all-source analysis; the directorate of operations is responsible for human intelligence collection; the National Security Agency is responsible for communications intelligence. Turf is sacred.)

Instead, we should organize and deploy our resources against high-priority targets, including terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, China and problem states in the Middle East. Focused on a particular target, each group would draw on people and resources from across the intelligence community. These new target-based centers would report to a new national intelligence director, not to heads of individual agencies. Existing agencies would function primarily as providers of personnel and resources, much as the individual military services function in relation to the combatant commands.

Certainly, there have been some tentative steps toward collaboration. The Counterterrorist Center and the Weapons Intelligence, Proliferation and Arms Control Center, both of which report to the director of Central Intelligence, reflect some of the logic of such cooperation. While the counterterrorist center wasn't inclusive enough to bring together information that might have stopped the 9/11 attacks, at least its analysts and operators are focused, in an integrated way, on their target.

Still, it is clear that our intelligence agencies cannot move toward partnership on their own. The post-9/11 battles among the counterterrorist center, the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the F.B.I., and the Department of Homeland Security over primacy in assessing the terrorist threat strongly suggest that we have regressed in the effort to integrate. For its part, the arms control center was not independent enough of C.I.A. views to avoid being led toward a flawed analysis of the Iraqi arsenal.

It is going to require strong presidential and Congressional leadership to achieve genuine reform. Thoughtful members on both sides of the aisle in both houses of Congress are already working on serious reform proposals, though nobody has yet had the courage to devise a Goldwater-Nichols Act for our spy agencies. In this context, the Bush administration's lack of initiative is inexplicable and unconscionable.

There are those who argue that intelligence reform should not be taken up during a political season. They are wrong. This kind of reform can take place only in a political moment. We need a thorough discussion of the issue in the context of the current presidential campaign so that whoever is inaugurated in January has a mandate to break organizational pottery in order to save American lives.

Flynt Leverett, a former C.I.A. senior analyst and senior director for Middle Eastern affairs at the National Security Council from 2002 to 2003, is a visiting fellow with the Saban Center for Middle East Politics at the Brookings Institution.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: cia; intelcommittee; intelligence; iraq; nsa
Ignore the cheap shot at the administration, if you can. Their plate has been full. Regardless, I think the author has made some good points. Bush & Co. better pick up the ball with Tenet's exit, or Kerry, Inc. will.
1 posted on 07/08/2004 10:49:57 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

That would be easy to do if we could trust them to work for the right side.

2 posted on 07/08/2004 10:59:52 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.)
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To: neverdem

You mean, force them to work together like this administration has done, instead of building artificial walls between them like Jamie Gorelick's infamous memo did?

The New York Times has found some goon with two last names to write about strengthening foreign policy -- must be an election year with a republican in office.


Criminal Number 18F

3 posted on 07/08/2004 11:13:41 PM PDT by Criminal Number 18F
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To: Criminal Number 18F
The New York Times has found some goon with two last names

LOL, you notice that too!

4 posted on 07/08/2004 11:31:12 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: Paleo Conservative; Destro; neverdem; RussianConservative; katy4now; SJackson; Sabertooth

the problem isn't with information sharing.

it's with the people who gather the intelligence.

if your tool is faulty, the man behind tool can't do anything to correct the situation, unless he replaces the tool.

As long as muslims give us intelligence about the islamic world, it wouldnt be worth crap.

We could change whatever we want to. But the if the tool that is used to gather that intelligence is faulty, you'd never get the right intelligence.

think of islamists within western intelligence as the mob's people within the police force

if the mob owns the police

1- who is going to catch the criminals?

2- Any innocents asking for help would be liquidated.

3- It would not only give criminals a free hand, but liquidate all those asking for help.

4- the police officers would themselves become a part of an extended crime syndicate and add to the crime.

5- today both your terrorists and islamic intelligence cadres have their loyalties to the same mobsters- their islamic countries of origin. These islamic overlords play hell into us by controlling both our intelligence resource and the terrorists.

6- if the muslims also make up the translators, we wouldnt have a clue as to what goes on inside our own agencies.

replace them with westerners, latinos and africans especially as translators, so that we atleast know what our own muslims are upto.

5 posted on 07/08/2004 11:32:28 PM PDT by jerrydavenport
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To: Destro; Sabertooth

hell if you want to lie, crook or bull, employ muslims.

but since you don't want to get crooked, lied to or bulled, hire someone who wouldnt have any loyalties to islam or the region.

if you want analysts who would hold US interests supreme, People who would also have the adequate brain power for analysis, don't hire muslims.

However if you want to destroy a particular country, just send them a few million of the islamic immigrants from the west.

in a few years with enough lies, crooks, conspiracies and conspiracies they would have brought that country to a halt and caused it's institutional, ethical and economic collapse

These people are weapons of mass destruction.

As long as we don't take their advice and unleash them, like locusts they would destroy everything in their path.

You use muslims not for intelligence gathering, but for destruction by burdening a nation with them, destruction is natural to them.

For the very same reasons, you want to keep them out of your own institutions, or else the islamists would destroy the US from within.

6 posted on 07/08/2004 11:46:22 PM PDT by jerrydavenport
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