THE NEW NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE MUST BE A VISIONARY AND A STRATEGIST
Creating a new layer of bureaucracy for the Intelligence Community was probably not the wisest course of action recommend by the 9-11 Commission but having been adopted into law it is critical that the post neither become part of the problem nor another general without an army, like the ” Drug Czar”. If John Negroponte allows himself to get sucked into the day-to-day details of crisis management he will become a ” DCI lite ” and chronic IC problems will not be addressed.
Ambassador Negroponte needs two things to succeed – the real authority that only the President of the United states can place in his hands and the determination to view strategic intelligence as a game of chess with the agencies of the IC as the pieces. The DNI needs to be the conductor of the orchestra, selecting the music, designating the first chairs and setting the tempo. If two years hence, Negroponte is spending his time tuning violins then the chance for real change will have been lost. What to do ?
Establish Authority and Role of the DNI as the Chief IC Strategist of The United States:
Currently, the diffuse nature and weak institutional leadership of the IC provided by the office of the DCI leads the IC to respond to threats more on a tactical instead of a strategic level. Sort of an a la carte menu of trouble spots instead of a set of potential outcomes that would be desirable to the United States. Ambassador Negroponte should begin his DNI tenure by convening the heads or chief deputies of IC agencies as an ” Intelligence Cabinet” to set collection and operational target priorities of the IC so that they mesh harmoniously with National Security, Defense and Foreign policy goals of the United States.
Such general meetings should be infrequent be steeped with the gravity of political “juice ” with several keyadministration figures like the National Security Adviser, Vice-President or even the President in attendence. Once priorities have been established the DNI should construct smaller working groups with the intent of habituating the IC bureaucracies :
a) to functioning in temporary but tightly knit, goal-oriented, task force teams that emphasize the expertise of team members, not their agency. The Bin Laden Task Force was a prototype of this model, as was the original Counterterrorism Center established by DCI Wiliam Casey ( it soon went astray from the original intent due to Iran-Contra fall-out).
b) reporting to the DNI as the transmission point and coordinator for the President of the United States on all matters of intelligence. He must guard the integrity of the analysis product from political manipulation while enforcing the president’s policy even when agencies of the IC are in disagreement.
Operational management of intelligence collection, clandestine and covert operations needs to be left to the agency heads. The DNI is there to determine the points upon which the IC is to ” surge”, hopefully before circumstances force his hand. The approach here is for the DNI to be the Eisenhower, not the Patton or Bradley, of the American intelligence world.
Create an effective OSINT center out of the National Intelligence Council:
The NIC is the natural place to create a full-fledged OSINT staff and to begin to maximize the value of open source collection and analysis to provide the context in which to assess the value of information provided by HUMINT and SIGINT sources. The OSINT staff can be part of an enlarged NIC with linguistic, cultural and disciplinary depth – sort of a think tank on steroids – or a separate unit that feeds analysis into the NIC for the writing of national intelligence estimates.
The important point is that the NDI upgrades OSINT as an IC priority and the overall quality of analytical prodction improves by its inclusion.
The United States currently has with its vast university system, the array of think tanks, foundations, corporate R&D, public and private policy and research NGOs, supplemented by the resources of the internet, more open source knowledge than any intelligence agency can reasonably use. What we need to do is begin systematically harvesting the existing expertise and managing it as a strategic resource.
Create a staff for the interagency coordination of Strategic Influence Policy:
The United States began its earliest experiments with mass psychological warfare with The Committee on Public Information run by George Creel during WWI. The process was continued in WWII by The Office of War Information, military intelligence, The Psychological Strategy Board and various other institutions.
The United States has been, to put it mildly, quite inept at leveraging its manifold organs of influence to deliver coherent, strategic, messages designed to impact the GWOT. It might be said that up until the Iraqi elections we were most proficient at shooting ourselves in the PR foot with the Arab world and with Europe.
What is needed here is not a new agency but a coordinator who can initially get the official USG agencies and departments to stay on” on message” and eventually begin crafting a strategic influence strategy that encompases a full spectrum of options to win the war of ideas.
Establish a new Foreign Counterintelligence Service:
American counterintelligence is dispersed and demoralized. Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen and similar cases over the years going back to the days of James Jesus Angleton have periodically damaged the standing of the IC while CI successes seldom, if ever, get reported or acknowledged properly.
Guarding all of our institutions in terms of security ( including IT security) is SOP but it is a failing CI strategy. Instead, those services and private groups capable of penetrating American intelligence represent far fewer variables. They should be targeted for aggressive network disruption on their home ground and third party locations so their resources can be drained away before they are employed against us. Fortunately, the Bush administration has begun moving in this direction.
Establish a permanent liason staff for Congressional relations:
While this might seem counterintuitive to bring the Congress deeper into IC policy given the past history of acrimonious relations between the CIA and Congress, neither the nation nor the IC can afford a return to the era of the Pike and Church committees any more than we can afford an IC removed from any oversight whatsoever.
Most members of Congress are responsibile and intelligent individuals who, after being made aware of the threats will act to prevent them from coming to pass and accept their share as a co-equal branch of government for national security. The IC will need that support during the tough times ahead when things go wrong as they inevitably will on occasion. Trust and professional consultation goes a long way to building that kind of relationship.
We cannot afford the cyclical ” gut the CIA” mentality any longer. The world is simply too dangerous, fast moving and chaotic. The NID must shield the IC from opportunistic, unfair, criticism by the occasional Congressional lightweight, as well as from its own worst instincts of insularity, bureaucratic territoriality, analytical timidity and operational dysfunction.
Good luck Ambassador Negroponte, you will need it.