The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Summarizing Morrissey’s
DNI Replacement Post

Posted on | May 23, 2010 | 4 Comments

by Smitty

Ed offers some fine detail on why Dennis Blair ejected:

The problem stems from a poorly designed reform of the American intelligence community, provided by the 9/11 Commission and adopted by a too-credulous Congress under political pressure. Prior to that, the CIA director was the head of all non-military intelligence, both gathering and analysis. The 9/11 Commission decided not to streamline intel by putting all of it in one structure but to create another two levels of bureaucracy and put the DNI in charge of the entire mess.

However, in charge turns out to be something of a misnomer. The DNI is nominally in charge of the national intel center created in the overhaul, but as Blair discovered, not much else. Blair famously lost a power play with Leon Panetta last year after Blair wanted to reassign some of the positions in the CIA, laboring under the delusion that Panetta worked for the DNI. Panetta, a long-time power player in Washington DC, ended up winning that battle at the Oval Office level, leaving Blair emasculated. He wound up in charge of just enough to take the blame for the failure to stop three terrorist attacks in the last six months, but not quite in charge of enough to have prevented them through his own efforts to remake US intelligence.

Under those conditions, who in their right mind would want to replace Blair? It’s not just thankless, it’s powerless as well. The Obama administration should rename it the Scapegoat Secretary for some honesty in advertising.

The Obama administration gets the blame for putting itself in this position, but they shouldn’t get all of it. Congress needs to revisit its poorly-conceived reform of the intelligence community and start over from scratch.

Here is the rub:

BUDGET

We have 16 entities within the Intelligence Community. If the DNI doesn’t own the SIS and SES weenies at the tops of those 16 outfits, and the DNI does not, then DNI means “Demonstrates Negligible Influence”.

Part of the challenge here is that, unlike much of the function of the Department of Education, the IC is a legitimate Federal task, and among the original self-licking ice cream cones.

For the DNI to be meaningful, he has to be given the capacity to trim budgets and staffs at the various IC outfits, the POTUS has to be willing to offer the high cover, the Congresscritters can’t dictate via appropriation/authorization committees, and the voters have to support reductions in Federal IC money, call it “spooky bacon”, coming to their districts.

So, I’ve laid out roughly four overlapping impossibilities for you; such commitment and leadership are not to be found at any level.

You’re welcome.

Comments

4 Responses to “Summarizing Morrissey’s
DNI Replacement Post”

  1. ak4mc
    May 24th, 2010 @ 4:42 am

    DNI and DHS are two more things for which Bush deserves blame from conservatives — others including the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit and McCain-Feingold. Had he succeeded in getting amnesty, or putting Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court*, I’d be rolling my eyes at those “Miss Me Yet?” billboards

    Roberts, Alito*, and the end of Saddam Hussein go a long way toward balancing those out, but they don’t eliminate the negative fallout they have caused.

    *Anyone who needs explained why Miers and Alito both have asterisks above, [email protected]#$!!inggoogleit.com

  2. ak4mc
    May 23rd, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

    DNI and DHS are two more things for which Bush deserves blame from conservatives — others including the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit and McCain-Feingold. Had he succeeded in getting amnesty, or putting Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court*, I’d be rolling my eyes at those “Miss Me Yet?” billboards

    Roberts, Alito*, and the end of Saddam Hussein go a long way toward balancing those out, but they don’t eliminate the negative fallout they have caused.

    *Anyone who needs explained why Miers and Alito both have asterisks above, [email protected]#$!!inggoogleit.com

  3. William Jefferson
    May 24th, 2010 @ 5:19 am

    Obama is kicking himself right now. If only he had given Hillary that DNI job! He’d be rid of her now, and could scapegoat her for the “failure” in the 2012 Dem primaries.

  4. William Jefferson
    May 24th, 2010 @ 12:19 am

    Obama is kicking himself right now. If only he had given Hillary that DNI job! He’d be rid of her now, and could scapegoat her for the “failure” in the 2012 Dem primaries.