The Next Director Of National Intelligence Should Be . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 24, 2010


No one. And yes, this is a great opportunity for Bob Gates to save some money.

I am serious about this. We should not have another Director of National Intelligence:

Prominent political figures and intelligence veterans aren’t exactly leaping at the opportunity to replace Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence who was ousted by President Barack Obama last week after losing a series of fights with the CIA and presiding over an intelligence system that failed to detect beforehand three significant terror strikes.

Intelligence analysts say the next DNI will inherit a job with a big mandate – overseeing a sprawling U.S. intelligence bureaucracy largely suspicious and resentful of him – but little real power to carry out reforms, and a position first in line to take the inevitable political heat.

The difficulties the Obama administration has run into in filling the post are rekindling questions about whether anyone can successfully do the job as it is currently constructed—doubts which now extend to some of the earliest and loudest voices for creating the new role five years ago.

“I think the position is extremely difficult and may be unmanageable,” said Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman and co-chair of the 9/11 panel which recommended the new post. “Four DNIs in five years when you appoint the new person, for one of the post important jobs in government? That turnover has to be worrisome. We’ve had three very good people appointed to the post and they’ve all come away dissatisfied….I think in large part they stepped aside or came away dissatisfied because of a lack of authority to get done what they think needs to be done.”

“The job hasn’t been going very well,” said Fran Townsend, a former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. “Either you give the DNI the authority he needs or change the job so it focuses more on strategy, and then you don’t need the authority.”

Just as a reminder: A certain someone issued much of these same critiques concerning the intelligence reforms that gave us a DNI and a new intelligence bureaucracy back in 2004, and 2006.

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