Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Disband the CIA

Congratulations to the dedicated and hard working Central Intelligence Agency and military personnel who worked for years to find Osama Bin Laden and make the mission that killed him possible.  There is a lot of credit to go around going back six or seven years as bits of intelligence were culled from informants, ease dropping, interrogations and captured documents. This is all good news - the bad news is that twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union the CIA has lived out its usefulness as a Cold War institution that looked out on relatively static, bipolar world defined by the United States vs. the Soviet Union.

Static is not a word used much to describe the world after 9/11, but words like upheavals, fluid and fragmented fit pretty well. Since the 1940's the agency has become bureaucratic tangle of regulations, interests and turf battles - a stereotypical Washington concern that employs some spies. Friction and inefficiency define civilian government and although the military is far from perfect, putting intelligence back in the hands of the military is the best solution.

Military intelligence is as old as militaries and worked pretty well much of the time because the military was producing intelligence for use by the military. The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence etc. only add layers and often barrier between the gathering, analyzing, dissemination and eventual use.  "Streamlining" needs to be a watch word just as "jointness" and "net-centric" are.  The fewer the agencies, organizations and people between the collector and user of the intelligence the better.

National security would benefit from a lean intelligence apparatus composed of Army Intelligence and Naval Intelligence.  This reset leaves room for entities like the National Security Agency which is already run by the pentagon. Existing laws would have to be modified by congress to accommodate these changes that would make U.S. intelligence more nimble and more accountable.

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