CIA follies

Clarice Feldman
The brilliant Gabriel Schoenfeld has written an article on the CIA detailing its flaws and failures including those of its past director, George Tenet. It's a scary picture he paints and one wonders if this suggestion will ever be acted on:
As a consequence of its failures to give warning when warning was needed, and of its giving warning when warning was not needed, it has become the intelligence agency that cried wolf and is now treated as such.

Efforts at reform, hurriedly conceived and implemented after 9/11, have stripped the CIA of some of its responsibilities and powers. The new position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), now occupied by Vice Admiral Mike McConnell*, is responsible, as the CIA director formerly was, for coordinating the work of the sixteen agencies that comprise the intelligence community and also for briefing the President. The DNI already has a staff of more than 1,000 people and an annual budget of more than $1 billion. But grafting this new layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing structure has done little or nothing to address the deep organizational and cultural problems of the CIA itself.

A radical and imaginative reconception of the agency thus remains an urgent necessity. The form this reconception should take is wide open for informed debate. As was the case during World War II and the glory days of the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA's precursor, there can be little doubt that many of America's best minds and hardiest spirits would rush to join an effective organization engaged in derring-do against our implacable adversaries. But the longer things stay roughly as they are, with the agency a sclerotic bureaucracy mired in mediocrity, the more it will continue to attract only those who, like George Tenet himself, get their jobs because no one else wants them.

The brilliant Gabriel Schoenfeld has written an article on the CIA detailing its flaws and failures including those of its past director, George Tenet. It's a scary picture he paints and one wonders if this suggestion will ever be acted on:
As a consequence of its failures to give warning when warning was needed, and of its giving warning when warning was not needed, it has become the intelligence agency that cried wolf and is now treated as such.

Efforts at reform, hurriedly conceived and implemented after 9/11, have stripped the CIA of some of its responsibilities and powers. The new position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), now occupied by Vice Admiral Mike McConnell*, is responsible, as the CIA director formerly was, for coordinating the work of the sixteen agencies that comprise the intelligence community and also for briefing the President. The DNI already has a staff of more than 1,000 people and an annual budget of more than $1 billion. But grafting this new layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing structure has done little or nothing to address the deep organizational and cultural problems of the CIA itself.

A radical and imaginative reconception of the agency thus remains an urgent necessity. The form this reconception should take is wide open for informed debate. As was the case during World War II and the glory days of the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA's precursor, there can be little doubt that many of America's best minds and hardiest spirits would rush to join an effective organization engaged in derring-do against our implacable adversaries. But the longer things stay roughly as they are, with the agency a sclerotic bureaucracy mired in mediocrity, the more it will continue to attract only those who, like George Tenet himself, get their jobs because no one else wants them.