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Intelligence Reform Bill

I've had quite a few emails asking for a comment on this topic.  Right now, according to the Main Stream Media, the bill was quashed by Senators with a concern for the intelligence needed for war fighters.  The bill will be looked at again in a few weeks.

General Richard Myers sent a letter to Congressman Hunter opposing some of the bill's reforms.  I doubt that the letter sent by General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would have been crafted without Rummy's approval, knowledge or influence. 

First, Intelligence is expensive.  Those in control of the budgets for intelligence don't want to relinquish their authority.  In Washington, money equals power. 

Second, the military looks at Imagery Intelligence differently than other Civilian agencies.  I was an Intelligence Officer working for the Defense Intelligence Agency so I'm a bit biased.  I spent some time with the NSA and NIMA (the mapping agency) and even the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  I'm limited in what I can discuss because I signed many agreements that I would never discuss any information regarding my missions - the new agreements are for 70 years or your lifetime (whichever is longer).  I know that sounds funny, but that's the deal.

What I can say is this:

1.  I led teams of imagery analysts (called Squints) that looked at information gathered from various means - but mostly from satellites. 

2.  I spent a lot of time fixing errors made by a certain sister civilian agencies in this area.  In fact, once we began working, we were given more things to fix.  For example, certain landmarks may be important to the DIA but not the CIA.  When Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady was shot down over the Balkans, his handlers tried to use intel based on information garnered from satellites to guide him out ("follow the power lines to the main road then turn east").  The landmarks were all wrong, and O'Grady almost paid the price for it.

3.  Getting a "tasker" - a DOD satellite on target to see what is happening - basically takes an act of god (or the SecDef).  It's difficult enough to change satellite trajectories.  But try getting a tasker from a sister agency, no matter what the mission, and you will get nowhere.  The different agencies may seem to play nice, but their priorities are not the same.  If the estimates or intelligence have already been created, they might be shared. But if you are talking about giving up a resource to help a sister agency, forget it.  They are not motivated to really share new intelligence capabilities and resources. 

Therefore, the warfighters do need to have some automony when building intelligence estimates (what we believe) and prioritizing intelligence requirements (what we need to know).  The guidance for these elements needs to come from the SecDef.  The Intelligence Reform Bill proposes that the new Director of National Intelligence would be responsible for combining both resources.

Bottom Line:  Reform is needed.  People need to be held accountable for bad intelligence.  Priorities for intelligence - both Civilian and Military - need to be sorted out and supported.  The White House version of the Intelligence Reform Bill addresses this issue.  While I worry about the support the warfighters will get, I think that, overall, the bill is a great idea and should be enacted as received from the White House - that version included a "guidance" role for the SecDef in establishing priorities.

And while you may find the above interesting, the real reason that the bill was killed was because of it's immigration policy changes - not because of General Myers' opposition.  Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) opposed the bill for two days because of immigration issues.  As a country, we need to determine:  (1) do we need a National ID, (2) should illegal aliens should be able to get Driver's Licenses (because some states give them to illegal aliens and, having a Driver's License grants citizens rights that non-citizens should not have - buying firearms being just one issue), and (3) should we REALLY address our borders and port security more seriously?  All have costs and benefits, and all will cost enormous sums of money in one way or another.

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