Naked To Our Enemies
Reyes' position requires that he provide oversight of our intelligence operations, and those in charge of those operations have demonstrated they know little more than Reyes does:
At the end of a long interview, I asked Willie Hulon, chief of the [FBI's] new national security branch; whether he thought that it was important for a man in his position to know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. "Yes, sure, it's right to know the difference," he said. "It's important to know who your targets are."That was a big advance over 2005. So next I asked him if he could tell me the difference. He was flummoxed. "The basic goes back to their beliefs and who they were following," he said. "And the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shia and the difference between who they were following."O.K., I asked, trying to help, what about today? Which one is Iran - Sunni or Shiite? He thought for a second. "Iran and Hezbollah," I prompted. "Which are they?"He took a stab: "Sunni."Wrong.
One of the most disturbing books I can remember reading in a long time, is Bill Gertz' Enemies which reveals the failure of the U.S. Government in stopping the penetration of enemies and terrorists, stealing our secrets and using them against us. The numerous failures and the utter insufficiency of the few corrective steps taken are mind boggling. If Congressional oversight cannot accomplish what executive authority has not, we are in serious trouble. Management by committee having a poor track record, I am not comforted.
(a) "long-standing systematic problems " in the FBI's CI program(b) "ineffective oversight" of the Hanssen investigation(c) "the absence of adequate security controls at the FBI"(d) The Bureau's systematic failure to comply with Executive orders, Department regulations and sound intelligence-community procedures for internal security.
"Even today, the FBI's security problems are pervasive, from personnel security, to computer security, to document security, to security training and compliance." (Enemies, p. 125).
"U.S. intelligence agencies remain mired in what I call crushing bureaucratization - the loss of focus on national, strategic goals and the overemphasis on protecting bureaucratic turf, budgets and personnel. The problem is seriously undermining our national security.
The intelligence community is bloated, with too many agencies doing too many of the same things. Restructuring is needed to upgrade our intelligence services to the 21st Century. While some reform has been carried out, there is so much more that needs to be done. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in my view, has become another layer of bureaucracy on the overly bureaucratic system. It turns out that what the intelligence community didn't need was a czar who could make all well.
We need smaller agencies with better people and radically different operating methods and procedures."
a) Take domestic counter/intelligence (CI) out of the FBI's purview. Sooner or later it may have to be done. While that measure alone won't make any difference or improve anything, it could possibly prevent other reform measures from going astray due to the engrained organizational/cultural issues at the Bureau.b) Consider a revision to our present-apparently rather toothless-espionage laws and set up a Court and a division of the Department of Justice specially designated to handle such cases. As we know from the performance of the FISA Court this is not a perfect solution. There is a tendency of such courts and divisions to expand and over zealously protect their own powers and cling to old procedures, rather than acting with good sense to meet new threats. Nevertheless, there is a great value to having judges with expertise in these matters and the kind of uniformity not possible when the cases are spread out over courts with such varying degrees of approach as, say, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Ninth Circuit.c) Take all counter intelligence employees and officials out of the Civil Service system which makes it impossibly hard to remove poor performers. We pay with our lives and security if they do a bad job. It's not too much to hold them really accountable when they fail to do their jobs.d) Professionalize CI; it is too important to neglect. If we choose to retain a CI office in the FBI, we must change the training of FBI CI agents and improve the resources available to them. Many FBI careerists have little interest in national security and no expertise in it. They are frequently anti-intellectual and distrustful of non-criminal experts. It's time a centralized pool of linguists (particularly Arabic, Chinese and Russian) and political experts was created to serve as a continuing resource to the FBI. People who know Sunni from Shia, can read and understand foreign communications and who can shed light on what otherwise is not obvious. Additionally, since so much of the spying involves the theft of military technology, a pool of technology experts which can regularly be tapped should be set up.e) Laws should be enacted, barring military, Department of State and CIA and FBI officials from working for foreign governments, and operations funded by them, upon leaving government service. The number of such people already working for the Chinese and Saudi governments is a scandal, and the road to such employment posits a danger to honest analysis and actions in our national interest while still in government service.
Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will create a new congressional panel to examine the administration's intelligence budget and to make sure the money is being spent properly. [....]The Select Intelligence Oversight Panel proposed by Pelosi would be made up by members of the Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, and would work within the Appropriations Committee.It would examine, through hearings, the president's intelligence budget, prepare the classified annex to the annual defense spending bill and conduct oversight of the use of appropriated funds by intelligence agencies
Will this new sub-committee have the budget authority to match oversight with money? How much power will it have relative to the Appropriations and Intel committees? And if it has real budget authority, shouldn't the chair of the House Intel Committee also chair this? Time will tell.