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Slade Gorton
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Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

Not what the 9/11 Commission recommended

Q: This week's Washington Post investigative series on the government's burgeoning intelligence network prompts the question: Can an organization get so big and so complex that it just can't be managed effectively? Or is "too-big-to-manage" just a cop-out for flawed structure and lack of leadership?

There are corporations as large and complex as our intelligence system that are very well managed. The problem is not size, but clear lines of authority, which are spectacularly missing in the intelligence community.

The 9/11 Commission's central recommendation was the creation of a Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) with wide authority over the entire community, including those elements in the Department of Defense and including budget authority.

The Senate pretty much agreed, but the House balked, as the Post story pointed out. The result was the creation of a DNI who simply added another layer of complexity to an already too complex system.

The answer is not another coordinating body; it's the proper empowering of the DNI, regrettably the opposite of the direction to which the president seems inclined. If the DNI had the authority of an efficient corporation's CEO, intelligence gathering would be more efficient, shared better, and the budget and number of personnel could be reduced by 25%.

By Slade Gorton

 |  July 19, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Category:  Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Slade is right. There was nothing more odorous than the NCTC director jinking and jiving away responsibility for his valiant staff's efforts after the underwear bomber incident. And of course, there were the de rigeur, utterly insincere explanations from that apologist on the National Security staff. Gross.

And the administration had to look into a bunch of fundamental authorities, only to discover with all the gazillions of dollars and tens of thousands of emps and contractors, no one was assigned to follow up on threats. And no one did.

The IC is grossly overfunded and overstaffed. It matters not if they are civil servants or contractors of military. There are too many.

Posted by: axolotl | July 23, 2010 6:21 PM
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With respect to Sen. Gorton.... In my personal opinion, we didn't need to create the office of DNI to replicate (but less efficiently) the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, established by the National Security Act of 1947. The only rationale would seem to have been political, in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq WMD scandal. The ODNI is the most bureaucratic, least productive, and most contractor-heavy part of the IC.

This is not to blame the able gentlemen who have attempted to serve as DNI; the office itself is poorly equipped to fulfill its stated role.

After the Post series, I would hope that you and others would drop the flawed comparisons between the functions of the US foreign intelligence enterprise with those of a commercial business. We give our foreign intelligence agencies the power of life and death over foreign actors and states, and the power to violate foreign laws in defense of our security. They are not business; they are the tooth, claw, eyes, and ears of the US Republic abroad.

Posted by: h0db | July 20, 2010 1:52 PM
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"The answer is not another coordinating body; it's the proper empowerment of the DNI..."
Sorry, Sen. Gorton is still hung up on Top-Downism!
The 'problem' is that no one has identified the "REAL" Intelligence Management Focal Point.
That is the 'Starting Point' and nothing really constructive or long lasting can ensue until then! In the meantime, we continue to educate our enemies[The Washington Post excells in this area on a daily ONLINE basis].
The 16 or 17 Blind Men are still circling the Intelligence Elephant. America's enemies, internal and external, are salivating!
Woe is We/U.S.!

Posted by: realtimer | July 20, 2010 7:57 AM
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