Getting Spy Reform Wrong -- or did they?
John Lehman claims in today's WaPo op-ed that the administration and congress implemented the exact OPPOSITE of what the 9/11 Commission recommended. He makes the astonishing claim that the commission issued:
[...] 41 hard-hitting recommendations for urgent reform. Priority was given to the need to rebuild the bloated and failed intelligence bureaucracies. The commission had a straightforward vision: We wanted a strong national intelligence director to smash bureaucratic layers, tear down information "stovepipes" and rewrite personnel policy to bring in the best people -- not only from the career bureaucracy but from the private sector -- to act quickly and decisively on the president's priorities.
Oh, yeah? Read the recommendations for yourself. Mostly malarkey about consulting with other countries and exhibiting sensitivity, etc. Only near the end is ONE paragraph devoted to our intelligence services, and the recommendation is one of STRUCTURE, i.e. to create a Director of National Intelligence to oversee all three branches of the intelligence services. In other words, A NEW BUREAUCRACY. One other paragraph briefly refers to boosting analysis, language and human intelligence capabilities in the most general terms. (See recommendations 30 and 31).
But then he goes on to talk about the things that the commission supposedly recommended and what makes intelligence agencies work, and his op-ed began to have a strange sense of deja-vu about it. Where had I read this before? And then it hit me. Herb Meyer had written about this in the American Thinker in an article entitled "A Talent for Intelligence". Read it for yourself and compare.
Lehman has the nerve to say that the commission's recommendations were clearly what they were not. No mention is made in the commission's recommendations of recruiting new people or "smashing bureacuratic layers, or tearing down information "stovepipes", no mention is made of "rewriting personnel policy to bring in the best people...from the private sector -- to act quickly and decisively on the president's priorities."
He can scream as much as he wants, this baby is his -- even if he denies paternity.
You need to read both articles, and take a look at the recommendations too. Another bureacrat tries to rewrite history.
Here's an excerpt from Lehman's article:
Getting Spy Reform Wrong by John Lehman.
Sixteen months ago, after a year and a half of investigation and analysis, the five Republicans and five Democrats of the Sept. 11 commission unanimously approved 41 hard-hitting recommendations for urgent reform. Priority was given to the need to rebuild the bloated and failed intelligence bureaucracies. The commission had a straightforward vision: We wanted a strong national intelligence director to smash bureaucratic layers, tear down information "stovepipes" and rewrite personnel policy to bring in the best people -- not only from the career bureaucracy but from the private sector -- to act quickly and decisively on the president's priorities.
We knew this would not by itself fix U.S. intelligence. The threats we face today require a new culture: new approaches to analysis, espionage, the way we use technology and just about every other aspect of intelligence operations. But we knew that such improvements could not happen without a clean, strong top-level management structure. Congress acted quickly on our recommendations, and passed the Intelligence Reform Act last December.
Nine months ago President Bush appointed John Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence. Negroponte is perhaps the finest career diplomat in the government. But instead of the lean structure recommended by the commission, with a small but powerful staff based on just three deputies (one each for foreign, domestic and military intelligence), the administration reached all the way back to the McNamara years to create a huge new staff to sit on top of the old and still bloated bureaucracies. The result is that little has changed -- except that a new bureaucracy has been created. And although the Sept. 11 commission identified the urgent need for better people, better collection, better analysis and better information sharing, nearly every person in this new bureaucracy has been drawn from the career services. Far from bringing in outsiders with fresh perspectives, the bureaucracy has, in effect, repelled all boarders.
And here's an excerpt from Herb Meyer's article:
For most organizations, failure or success depends upon the quality of management. But there are some highly-specialized organizations in which failure or success depends not so much on the quality of management, but on talent. For example, a baseball team. You can have the best manager in the history of baseball, but if you don’t put nine ballplayers on the field who can out-hit, out-pitch, and out-hustle every other team in the league you cannot win the World Series. Likewise with a scientific research institute: it isn’t the administrator setting budgets, monitoring grants and assigning parking spaces who will find the cure for cancer. It’s the world-class scientists working in their labs who’ll get the job done.
It’s the same with an intelligence service. Of course you need someone in charge and a bureaucracy to support him. But if you don’t have the world’s best analysts and spies -- you lose.
We used to understand this. As the U.S. geared up for World War II, President Roosevelt set up the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and chose as its leader a Wall Street lawyer named William J. Donovan. Known as “Wild Bill” – and for good reason – Donovan didn’t tell FDR that he needed ten years to get the new intelligence service up and running. For one thing, Donovan knew that without a first-class intelligence service we would lose the war in less time than that. Besides, he didn’t need ten years to get the OSS into action because Donovan had the one quality leaders of highly-specialized organizations like baseball teams, research labs – and intelligence services -- must have to succeed: a talent for spotting and harnessing talent.
Donovan scrambled to recruit men and women from across the country who all had the very specific combination of qualities you need to make an intelligence service “go”: the brains to figure things out fast, the street-smarts to invent solutions on the fly, an under-developed sense of fear, and the self-confidence (often mistaken for arrogance) to believe you can make things happen that others insist cannot be done. For example, when the intelligence “professionals” in Washington and London told Donovan that infiltrating spies into the Third Reich was impossible, Donovan gave the job to a young New York tax attorney named William J. Casey. By the time Hitler was dead in his Berlin bunker, Casey had organized and run 103 missions behind Nazi lines. Donovan’s search for talent took him into the business community, the academic world, and into the country’s leading scientific and technical establishments. He even recruited some brainy and gutsy debutantes, whose escapades and analytic achievements still haven’t been fully declassified.