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Monday, May 08, 2006

On the CIA War Lords

The CIA battle rages on, a sort of Inter-Agency Somalia, with the "We've always done it this way" War Lords trying to hold on to power and turf . The Goss resignation simply allows for more backroom fire fights best described in this piece from the American Specator:
The entrenched CIA Praetorian Guard has announced its plan for Hayden's tenure. In two Sunday Washington Post stories (here and here), another in the New York Times and a Times editorial, CIA sources got their media pals to argue that the greatest concern for the future of our primary intelligence agency is how Gen. Hayden will conduct their turf war against the Defense Department. In the two WaPo stories, the CIA's turf battle against Donald Rumsfeld is mentioned five times. The NYT story is relatively mild in mentioning it only once, but the editorial makes up for that by making the attack on Rumsfeld's partial control of intelligence its central theme. The CIA sources who pushed these stories care only about their power and privileges. The essential transformation of the intelligence agencies to make America safer is not on their minds. The CIA Praetorians prepare for Hayden's arrival by questioning his ability, in the words of one Post story, "to be independent from Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Which means that the CIA leaker brigade will attack Hayden as a failure unless he allows the CIA bureaucrats to control what he does. If that is Hayden's future at CIA, it would be better just to appoint one of the Praetorians to the job or to make Valerie Plame Wilson, their consort, the CIA chief.
Spook 86, a retired military intel type, has an excellent post on the putative topic of "civilian control" and drops the hammer on the matter here:
In fact, these fears about eroding "civilian control" over intelligence are something of a red herring. Apparently, Chairman Hoekstra has forgotten that General Hayden has a civilian boss (John Negroponte) who sits atop the nation's intelligence community. Beyond that, the DNI and the agency chiefs work for another civilian, the Commander-in-Chief. The DNI, like the DCI before him, will always be a civilian--as it should be. Likewise, the military will always have a major say in running our intelligence efforts because the DOD provides a significant portion of our collection, analytical and production capabilities. That shouldn't change, either.

With the CIA at a critical crossroads in its history, it's disappointing--but entirely predictable--that Congress is suddenly worried about General Hayden's military status. If that is a genuine issue, then it can easily be fixed; we can simply hold his retirement ceremony the day before he takes charge of the CIA. The real issue should be--must be--the continued reform of a spy agency that has become bloated, less effective, and highly partisan. Sadly, that over-arching concern appears lost on the talking head set, who are more concerned about advancing personal agendas (I'm sure Hoekstra has his own choice to run the CIA) and scoring cheap political points.

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