Sunday, June 6, 2010

National Director of Intelligence Appointed, Reaction: Do we NEED 16 Intelligence Agencies?

In my efforts to keep up with politics, I noticed the President announced his new Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper Jr. Some lawmakers seem to like him, others don't... but that isn't what struck me. Read the first part of the statement from the White House:

Today, I am proud to announce my choice for the next Director of National Intelligence —- James Clapper. With four decades of service to America, Jim is one of our nation’s most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals.

As Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, he has successfully overseen the military and civilian intelligence personnel and budgets that make up the bulk of our 16-agency intelligence community. He’s improved information sharing, increased intelligence support to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, upheld civil liberties, and he played a key role in our effort to update and reorient our intelligence community to meet the threats of our time.

What strikes you when you read it? What strikes me is "our 16-agency intelligence community." Seriously. This guy was appointed as part of the new position created in the Bush Administration (Thank God they didn't call it a Czar or the right would have gone nuts with the title) "five years ago in response to the intelligence failings leading up to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the aim was to coordinate often fractious agencies, including the CIA and the White House office of counterterrorism."

It would seem a smart move to have someone to coordinate the information from "our 16-agency intelligence community" but maybe someone should have asked a more obvious question: Why do we need 16 agencies in our intelligence community?

I realize the world is a large place. I realize we use a lot of different means of intelligence. I realize it might be nice to have a back up in case one agency fails. But do we really need 16? Maybe THAT was one of the problems leading up to 9/11 with intelligence confusion... TOO MANY AGENCIES!

Maybe I am overreacting, but if you wonder why our federal budget is so huge... sure, Social Security is big; sure Medicare is big; but it could also be partially due to such amazing redundancy and overreaction to things that we create 16 intelligence agencies to do the job that could be done by 1/4 that number if not 1/8 that number.

How about this: Foreign Intelligence, Domestic Intelligence, Space Intelligence, and Military Intelligence. Do we really need more than those four?

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