Thursday, October 07, 2004

Too much speed?

Though I haven't talked about it much I have been paying attention to Congress's attempts to reform our intelligence community. I came across this piece in today's Opinion Journal, and have to say, I can't find anything to disagree with.

Our expectations for Congress are always low, and in the case of intelligence reform the Members are once again meeting them. On second thought, that's too generous. The solons are rushing to accomplish the most extensive reform of U.S. intelligence in 50 years in a few pre-election weeks, and they're doing it without a clue about the consequences.

Or, to be precise, without a clue about the substantive impact on intelligence collection and use. About the political consequences they are certain, since the driving force here is electoral self-preservation and media credit. The idea seems to be to pass something--anything--so no one can blame them if there's a terror attack before the election, and then clean up any bureaucratic mess later. It's bad enough that Congress does this to the tax code, but this is national security.

Perfect, isn't it? To protect THEIR backsides, Congress has put aside YOUR safety. Instead of taking the time to really study what the 9/11 report had to say and what, let's say, Henry Kissinger had to say, they want to rush the most important job they have to do, to show that they are doing SOMETHING.

On the topic of a intelligence csar,
Leave aside the wisdom of disrupting our war-fighting institutions in the middle of a not-so-cold terror war. As Henry Kissinger told the Senate Appropriations Committee on September 21, the danger of an all-powerful intelligence czar is that you will get more intelligence conformity, not less. One reason policy makers can get different intelligence perspectives now is because the services are divided into different bureaucracies. If everyone suddenly reports to one master, the bureaucratic incentives are for everyone to want to please him.

The "kiss ass" syndrome. It happens in business all the time. Instead of trying to do what is best for you're store, you do, what you think is best, for the stores in your region, to show the regional VP that you're a team player. The problem, in doing so, your store gets closed down because you aren't catering to the people in your neighborhood. Silly analogy but, it fits.

I've thought the idea of an intelligence csar was bad from the begining and Kissinger shows exactly why it is. Congress, in it's rush to make it SEEM like they are doing something, will, of course, do exactly the opposite of what the experts say. CYA baby.

Read the rest of the article, it's eye opening.