Monday, May 08, 2006

Goss and the CIA

I have been waiting a bit before making my comments on the Goss resignation issue. I am not going to speculate on the reasons, I am simply going to accept it as fact and look forward. The reason is that I don't have any information on why and I am hearing speculation all over the spectrum as to reasons why and none of it appears to come from anyone in a position to know. In short, as Goss himself said, "It's one of those mysteries".

What I do have a very strong opinion about is the comments from some people concerning a desire to keep the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) position civilian. Notwithstanding that there have been what, 6 past military directors, I have had some sympathy with the view that the DCI should be a civilian. All of that changed when the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) position was created as one of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. The traditional role of the DCI was set out in 1947 legislation. It described the position as follows (according to wikipedia):

The Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Harry S. Truman. The act also created a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to serve as head of the United States intelligence community; act as the principal adviser to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serve as head of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the National Security Act to provide for a Director of National Intelligence who would assume some of the roles formerly fulfilled by the DCI, with a separate Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Now the functions that I feel should be executed by a civilian have been moved out of the CIA and is now the responsibility of the DNI. There has also been talk that even more functions of the CIA will be moved over to DNI such as the Directorate of Intelligence. The CIA is, according to many familiar with the intelligence community, in the process of being transformed into a clandestine service performing covert operations and HUMINT activities. In other words, collection and operations. The analysis and policy impacting output is moving to DNI which IS headed by a civilian.

So I am having a problem understanding the call for a civilian director. It makes sense if you have an "old" CIA but doesn't make much sense for a "new" CIA. It can be a military slot just as NSA, DIA and some other agencies are. Our elected officials can't be that dumb. Maybe they think we are? Maybe they are relying on a traditional understanding of the CIA in order to find some reason to come out against the president's choice.

I believe their goal is to simply come out against whatever choice President Bush proposes. This was an easy "handle" to grab onto but comes off in your hand once you dig into the issue. This is not the time to bicker over a CIA director. We need to get this issue closed up and get on with things. Dragging this out is not going to do anything to endear Congress to the American people.

Who do I think should be in charge there? Someone who has experience in intelligence but has no connection with CIA. The agency is going to undergo some serious surgery and someone with an attachment to the old structure is going to be less helpful.

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