That didn't take long. Peter Rodman, longtime accomplice in the debacle of 2001-2006, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, resigned. The looming shadow of a Gates-ian housecleaning proved too much for the nerves, perhaps; he jumps before pushed. Rodman is an Imperial City veteran of many years and began his ascent with Kissinger and Scowcroft NSC. Notwithstanding his training and solid academic background, Rodman went off the rails under Dubya and with the purview for the Middle East at ISA helped create and then steer the car wreck. A 2006 appearance at AEI continued to exort Iraqi Victory strategy in a surreal disregard for ground truth.
Cambone's days are numbered as well. The euphoria in the building should not be underestimated. We remember leaving a very small dinner with Cambone near the Pentagon back in the day. Rumstud was the media persona and Cambone known as the E-Ring Enforcer. 'Transformation' had yet to become a joke ('But Sir! This stapler's ability to work with 10 pages at a time is truly transformational!'). The loathing was already visceral. A retired Air Force Lt. General turned to me and asked, “Why did you invite me to sit through dinner with that sunovabitch??” And the AF was the favored service at the time. We always felt some of the criticism he received was unfair. But not all or even most.
Making things even more inevitable, Cambone is the point man for OSD further encroachment on the diminished Agency's special activity turf. Gates, for practical and institutional loyalty reasons, will scale this trend back. Many viewed the dramatic expansion of DoD presence in this sphere through the prism of Rumsfeldian 'Type A' bureaucratic turf mentality. The real reason, of course, is more Cheney-esque. DoD special activity the Administration (especially Addington) argued was outside the legal framework of the 1980 Intelligence Oversight Act which required notification to Congress of what the public calls “covert action”. In effect, Rumsfeld and Cambone got in open sight what Casey and others tried to do and thereby nearly crippled a presidency.
OSD also bullied the State Department to allow its operatives to move in and out of embassies without requiring operational sign off by the sitting ambassador, let alone the Agency Chief of Station. Not for nothing did wags point to the DoD swollen head count for special activity as Rumsfeld's 'Army of the Potomac'.
Democrat control of Congress adds further pressure to curtail things. A recent CRS report sets out for Congress the reasons DoD special activity in fact *should* be under the 1980 Act.
Some lawmakers fear that the Pentagon is creating a parallel and independent intelligence capability that encroaches on the CIA’s traditional role. Gen. Michael Hayden, director of Central Intelligence, has stated previously that conflicts resulting from overlapping missions exist and will be resolved on a “case-by-case basis.”
Expanding the size and scope of Pentagon intelligence activities was a top priority of Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, one that critics have portrayed as part of an effort to “marginalize” the CIA. In its hunt for Al Qaeda terrorists, the Pentagon has on many occasions deployed its own intelligence officers overseas on the types of operations once reserved for the CIA’s paramilitary arm.
Rumsfeld also created the position of undersecretary of defense for intelligence now held by Stephen Cambone, while launching the Counterintelligence Field Activity — an entirely new intelligence agency within the Defense Department, with a classified mission and “black” budget said to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The very existence of this kind of unit shows that things are a mess,” said retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, a defense analyst with the Hudson Institute who headed the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. “The real question here is deciding whose troops are going to be responsible for paramilitary covert activity — the CIA’s or the Pentagon’s. I don’t see any resolution as long as Cambone is running an operation that ignores the D.O. [CIA directorate of operations] and State Department.”
All eyes are on Gates, who he will bring with him, who he will keep and who will be eased out, perhaps pour encourager les autres. Particularly interesting will be disposition of cells within OSD devoted to the Iranian threat that in many ways recreate the OSP Iraqi run-up.
Tags: OSD, Cambone, Gates, Rodman, covert action, oversight