Walter Pincus, an old school reporter of the best kind, sums up some perspectives on where intelligence reform went after the 9/11 Commission klieg lights shut down. Many of the anecdotes Pincus shares we’ve discussed here together long ago. In that sense, the piece brings one up to date rather than conveys fresh information.
What’s missing from Pincus’ reporting are the actual key issues — tasking and budget. Commuting aside (it’s not just a Starbucks double mocha latte kvetch, D.C. traffic is famously brutal, in no small part due to incompetent divers let alone inadequate infrastructure), who whom still rules, and budgetary control is the ultimate Peacemaker. Control over tasking also defines priorities and the the entire scope of the intelligence product cycle.
We predicted we’d end up in this miasma. First when Snarlin’ Arlen offered similar reform bills in 1987/88 after Iran Contra. And more recently when we were quoted in nationally syndicated columns blasting Cher Condi’s fatuous testimony on Community reform before the 9/11 Commission. (Well worth the subsequent and wholly coincidental tax audit). Pincus rightly recalls Duncan Hunter’s stand to expand intelligence oversight jurisdiction for HASC/SASC and DoD programmatically.
We have to admit Panetta’s flackery and full court leaking have been surprisingly effective. We didn’t think a year ago he’d have anything thing like his success creating notional constructs of a functioning and at least capable Agency [sic]. In the end, the Community will seek inertia and the status quo under the best of times. A change agent in the White House would make all the difference. Yet as we see with the Bush Lite Nuclear Posture Review, President Goldilocks is not going to go there.
Que sera, sera.