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Thread: Bush's Intelligence Overhaul a `Failure

  1. #1
    Military Professional Ray's Avatar
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    20 Aug 03

    Bush's Intelligence Overhaul a `Failure

    9-11 Panel Members Say Bush's Intelligence Overhaul a `Failure'

    By Jeff Bliss

    Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration has failed to carry out the 9-11 Commission's recommendations aimed at improving the U.S. intelligence network, panel members said.

    The nation's 16 spy agencies are still slow to share information and there's no evidence that it's easier to move money and personnel among the agencies, members of the 9-11 Commission say. The most visible accomplishment of the current director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, has been to amass a staff of more than 1,300, they say.

    ``The Bush administration's execution of the DNI reforms recommended by our commission has been a failure,'' said John Lehman, a member of the panel that probed the Sept. 11 attacks and a secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.

    Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska who served on the commission, said the Bush administration lost the urgency it displayed after the 2001 terrorist attacks to coordinate efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. ``The unity of purpose of the FBI and CIA six months after 9/11 has disappeared,'' Kerrey said.

    A Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today will give Vice Admiral Michael McConnell, 63, President George W. Bush's choice to replace Negroponte, a chance to say how he plans to turn the post into what the commission envisioned. McConnell is expected to receive confirmation by the full Senate. Negroponte is leaving to become deputy secretary of state.


    While terrorists' inability to mount an attack on U.S. soil since 2001 shows important progress, there have been setbacks, former intelligence officials and analysts said.

    The U.S. underestimated the seriousness of sectarian violence in Iraq and even administration officials such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice questioned last year whether the U.S. underestimated the strength of the Hamas militant group in the Palestinian Authority.

    Lawmakers such as Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and Intelligence Committee member, say the U.S. doesn't know enough about Iran's efforts to become a nuclear power.

    McConnell, if confirmed, would take over an organization with a combined $44 billion annual budget that includes the nation's spy agencies, the units that analyze their findings, and a 400-person group that oversees counterterrorism activities. Critics such as Lehman say the new bureaucracy hasn't met the 9-11 Commission's goals.

    ``It was the exact opposite of what we recommended, which was to create a powerful change agent with a very small powerful staff to cut bureaucratic layers,'' Lehman said.

    Pressuring Agencies

    Negroponte, 67, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq, should have done more to pressure the agencies to work together, said former Representative Rob Simmons, a Connecticut Republican who chaired a House intelligence oversight subcommittee.

    ``He's been a diplomat through most of his career,'' Simmons said. ``But the DNI is not supposed to be a diplomat.''

    It's a point echoed by Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    ``Negroponte was in some ways compromised,'' Rockefeller said in an interview on Bloomberg TV's ``Political Capital With Al Hunt'' Jan. 26. ``I think Negroponte was a diplomat who ended up in a position where he acted maybe a bit too much as a diplomat, that he wasn't really willing to face down the president.''

    Negroponte, at his confirmation hearing for the deputy secretary of state post before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jan. 30, said he worked to ``integrate the intelligence community'' and achieved ``a much greater degree of collegiality and integration than existed previously.''

    Negroponte Defended

    DNI officials disputed that Negroponte hadn't been forceful enough or lacked the power to do his job. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe referred questions to DNI.

    ``Simply cracking heads either wasn't in his style and for the most part wasn't necessary,'' said David Shedd, Negroponte's chief of staff.

    Shedd also defended the size of the staff, saying that a third of the workers were at the National Counterterrorism Center. Others were transferred from longstanding operations, he said.

    Critics exaggerate the problems with information sharing, Shedd said. Representatives from each intelligence agency meet three times a day to discuss the latest information, he said.

    `Fast Learner'

    Members of the 9-11 Commission and former intelligence officials said that many of the power struggles within the spy network can be worked out in discussions among the veteran managers Bush is appointing. McConnell should be a quick study, said former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalled how he hired McConnell as his chief intelligence officer just a few days before the Iraqis invaded Kuwait in 1990.

    ``He's a fast learner,'' Powell said. McConnell, then a Navy captain, ``didn't know how big a battalion or a brigade was. But within a couple of weeks he knew all of that, understood it rather well.''

    McConnell should prepare for the turbulence generated by the biggest reorganization of intelligence operations in 60 years, said former Washington Senator Slade Gorton, a 9-11 Commission member.

    Gorton, a Republican, noted the ``bureaucratic struggle'' Negroponte faced in his tenure. ``It's going to be a difficult task for his successor,'' Gorton said.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington .
    Last Updated: February 1, 2007 00:14 EST Worldwide
    A storm in a teacup or is the DNI too large and has not met the bill and up to the task assigned for?

    Obviously those not in the loop would hardly be in a position to comment, but what one would like to know is that how far are the national secrets or the mode of operations of these secret agencies discussed with the Senators and Senate Committees that they can opine whether an agency is working correctly or not?

    Prima facie, there does not seem to be any positive movement in the Middle East and one wonders if the organisation has been able to regain its pristine glory.

    Given the resources and the budget, human intelligence should have been in place in Iran wherein the exact position of Iran nuclear capability should have been known. But then, who knows? Possibly it is being kept under the wraps for some purpose that has not been divulged!
    Last edited by Ray; 01 Feb 07, at 16:57.

    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.


  2. #2
    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    12 Jan 05
    It remains to be seen if Bush's efforts to improve the informational network between agencies is a failure or not. One thing the commission did not take into account are the enormous "my way or the highway" egoes that exist in such agencies. 16 spy agencies? Try to get 16 heads of any 16 agencies to play ball. We should be looking at ways to merge some of the spy agencies so we have something closer to nine or less. Lastly, whomever oversees the spy agencies needs to have a clear vision and direction as well as the authority and wilingness to use an iron fist when it comes to prodding the spy agencies to work together. It is way past the time to put egoes and politics aside and do what is right for the country.

    I do find it discouraging that bush has increases efforts for increased domestic spying when we obviously need better eyes and ears out in the beyond our borders. Iran, North Korea being two examples. The sectarian violence to this extent, in Iraq may have been avoided if it had not been ignored for so long,but to think it was not going to happen at all was a total and complete blunder for all of those involved.

    Whether or not a senater is in the know is a tricky prospect. One would think that a senater,intelligence commitee member should know the thrust and efforts of the spynetworks. Unfortunately, spy networks are as good at withholding info as well as outright lying, as they are of gathering information. Knowedge is the ultimate power in washington and few give up this power so freely, even when it is right to do so. Incidently, Wyden is my senator. He is not known for being a whiner, but he will speak up if he feels he has a legitiment complaint. My take is that senators need atleast some info so they can do their jobs. We do not need congress to approve another invasion based on misinformation.

  3. #3
    Staff Emeritus
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    Defense Professional Shek's Avatar
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    23 Feb 05
    One thought - all of the setbacks listed partly through the article deal with HUMINT failures for a large part IMO - how fast can one grow HUMINT capabilities? Is it fair to judge the inability to grow an asset that takes decades by the inability to make it appear overnight? HUMINT failures of this decade are a failure from last decade for a most part - HUMINT failures of next decade will be the result of the failures of this administration.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  4. #4
    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    12 Jan 05
    I don't buy the "blame the past" rhetoric. People should be responsible for the here, today and quit whining about the card that were delt them. Bush has had atleast 4 years to make this happen.we are not buildind a new agency so much as we are trying to get the existing agencies to shair info on a timely basis. I also blame bipartisan politics,and the super washington egoes/power trips, which for me, is as bad for the U.S. as the secular violence is for Iraq.

  5. #5
    Military Professional Ray's Avatar
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    20 Aug 03
    The article notwithstanding, one wonders if indeed Humint could ever have been discarded for technological gadgets.

    Everyone knows that Humint is the best source to gets started on any issue.

    Therefore, it is very surprising to learn that Humint was not in the repertoire of the US int in Iraq and other places.

    In India, high level operators and bureaucrats in the RAW were on the payroll of the CIA and they vanished into thin air once they were detected.

    Therefore, it is a moot point that the US has not have had Humint in operation in places of concern and otherwise.

    Even the allegation that there was a mole in the Prime Ministers Secretariat, working for the CIA raised a lot of heat. I presume since it was highly embarrassing, the case somehow petered off with lame stuff and finally vanished off the media!
    Last edited by Ray; 02 Feb 07, at 06:24.

    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.


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