Monday, June 28, 2010

A Fourth Director of National Intelligence in Six Years?

As we await the confirmation of yet another DNI, I sincerely hope the SSCI hearings will address the most critical aspect of this position created by the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act (see my previous posts on this issue
CIA director balances spy agency, Washington politics ; Leon Panetta - Nominee for CIA Director): until the the executive and legislative branches of government recognize that the DNI is intended to be the chief intelligence official and treat him as such, no candidate in that position will succeed. The fact that General Clapper is the fourth candidate for that position in six years is not comforting and raises ongoing concerns over a critical national security position that should arguably transcend administrations, just as the DCI position often transcended individual administrations.

While the CIA has the primary responsibility for foreign intelligence collection and analysis, the entire intelligence community contributes to the full intelligence picture needed by national decision makers. And the DNI position is intended to provide that complete intelligence picture to them, and especially to the president. If these decision makers still remain unwilling in 2010 to accept the reform passed in 2004 and inflexible to the idea that the director of CIA is no longer the president's chief intelligence advisor, legislators might as well rescind the 2004 Reform Act and revert officially to the old system of a a dual-hatted Director of CIA/Director of Central Intelligence.