Reform from within; Streamlining the Intelligence Community

Article excerpt


With the passage of the intelligence bill by both houses of Congress and the assured signature of the president, an intelligence czar will be created. There are negative and positive aspects to the position of national director of intelligence (NDI). Retention of tactical intelligence with the military commands resolves one key negative aspect of the position.

A critical bureaucratic matter that needs to be addressed is where this director and the staff will sit. It cannot be at CIA because this would immerse the new director into a culture that has been a problem for the intelligence community for years. It also certainly should not be in the Pentagon, because this would also taint the director with accusations of bias. The director could be located at the White House, but this would probably cause conflicts with the national security adviser. Hence, the new director should be at a separate location completely independent of the other agencies. The drawback to this requirement is that it will require a separate staff and infrastructure, which will cost additional money.

A possible positive result of the creation of an NDI over the rest of the intelligence community is that the various agencies could be given more equality under this structure. The CIA has ruled the roost in the intelligence community for decades. This structure could even the field in the bureaucratic turf wars between the agencies.

But more important than this new position is internal reform. The keys to intelligence reform are to streamline the bureaucracy - not expand it - increase the stature and pay of analysts, make regional analysis the centerpiece of analytical focus and truly allow for more diverse analytical judgments, not just lip service.

Hopefully some of this internal reform has already taken place in light of the other recommendations of the September 11 commission. We need more working analysts, not bureaucrats. But becoming a manager is often the only way to advance one's career because the agencies will not pay increasing salaries for analysts. We need structures similar to the academic community that gives increasing rank, for instance, to professors, which helps to keep them in their areas of expertise. Analysts need to be respected as analysts and kept in analytical positions.

The community itself needs to be reformed starting at the top with the CIA. …