Thursday, November 25, 2004

CIA Reform: Follow the Money

Two more senior intelligence officials are resigning in response to the new leadership at the CIA. In spite of the fact that human intelligence is what we need most now and that such intelligence is not to blame for recent failures in Iraq (and that, in fact, human intelligence operations have been significantly improving in recent years; and that, in fact, the CIA was never the culpable party in the run-up to the war because it was the Pentagon "rogue" intelligence agency--the DIA--that promoted the thinnest evidence the most recklessly and "stovepiped" it to the Office of the Vice President), Porter Goss has chosen to purge the sector of the CIA devoted to human intelligence. This looks like an attempt to silence the internal critics of the administration by a partisan loyalist. That may be true, but there is another explanation that generally works for any matter involving big decisions in Washington: money. John Lehman explained this on the News Hour to Margaret Warner:
JOHN LEHMAN: Well, because I think you're involved in one of the classic iron triangle challenges here that we have seen through years and years in Washington.

You've got three entrenched forces here: One, the established committee structure, where Armed Services controls 90 percent of the intelligence budget, and they don't want to share it. They don't want to give up any of that power. You've got the hardware manufacturers that manufacture the satellites that lobby and have very strong interests to keep the gross imbalance between hardware and the human and the translators, area specialists...

MARGARET WARNER: The human intelligence?

JOHN LEHMAN: Yeah, human intelligence has been so under funded, and it's not because the secretary of defense and the director of CIA haven't wanted to add more money. But when it gets up to the Hill, it gets moved out of those soft things... there aren't any lobbyists for human intelligence. There are plenty of lobbyists for the satellite makers.

So money always moves to fix those problems first, and often that is the least valuable to the commanders on the ground. We want to fix that. We want somebody in charge that can put rationality into the way we allocate resources and see that it's carried out.
That's great, isn't it? Our Congress and President are so committed to improving our intelligence and security that lobbyists can undermine the very sources which will do so.


Post a Comment

<< Home