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George Tenet, whose checkered career as DCI did so much to push the CIA to the brink of legislative dissolution, blasted the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) for his bill to radically reshape the CIA and amalgamate it’s directorates with other agencies of the IC.

The Roberts bill isn’t perfect but Senator Roberts deserves great credit for getting the debate oriented toward thinking in terms of the tasks of the IC and away from ” Czars “, flowcharts and bureaucratic turf. As I’ve blogged on previously, the number of agencies in the IC can change but the tasks we need them to do remains the same. This was a substantive proposal, not a gimmick, and viewed as a starting point, as the senator seems to do, it’s a constructive step. I personally do not think the CIA needs to be dissolved and reconfigured to accomplish revamping the IC as a networked organization but the network model is where we need to go to get more of the cross-disiplinary interaction that Tenet is lauding.

A final thought on IC is that it really might be best to have a new, relatively small but entirely secret operational unit within the IC to fight the war on terror. Intelligence agencies that are in the public domain swim against the collective counterintelligence efforts of every actor in the world interested in their doings. To assure that such an institution does not become a loose cannon or trample on the rights of U.S. citizens, oversight could be limited to the two intelligence committee chairman, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority leader. No staff. No substitutes. A retired FISA court judge might also be a wise addition as the legal adviser to the restricted oversight committee.


The eminent Judge Richard Posner on intelligence reform, guest blogging over at Lessig blog. Hat tip to Mithras.

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