Patterico's Pontifications


Intelligence Thoughts

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 12:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Ed Morrissey has some thoughts about James Clapper, President Obama’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence:

“If anything, Clapper’s nomination to the post highlights both the lack of competence at the White House and the structural problems created by the reorganization of the intel communities five years ago. Why would Obama choose someone who has spent the last couple of years attempting to make the position weaker? And why are we still looking to find the next unlucky candidate to get all the blame and little authority, rather than undoing the 9/11 Commission “reform” and fixing the very obvious problems in organization, lines of authority, and turf battles in the American intelligence community? Blair’s resignation gives us an opportunity to fix those problems, but Obama seems intent on making them even worse.”

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about the topic so consider this post an invitation to pontificate on the topic and educate me. But my thoughts about Clapper’s nomination are positive for at least three reasons:

  • As discussed in Ed’s post, Clapper apparently believes Saddam sent his WMDs to Syria before the Iraq War. If so, then perhaps Clapper hasn’t drunk the Democrats’ Kool-Aid when it comes to Iraq and other terrorism issues. That he has a long career in intelligence and was an investigator in the Khobar Towers bombing also makes me hope he is deadly serious about terrorism.
  • Clapper has broad experience with a range of intelligence assets. Not only has he has worked extensively with satellite intelligence resources, but his belief in human intelligence earned him the nickname Godfather of HUMINT. Thus, I am encouraged that Clapper legitimately advocates the synthesis of various elements of intelligence – human intelligence, communication, electronic, imagery, geospatial, financial and other methods – which he says “all contribute to the war on terrorism.”
  • I don’t think reforms exist that can resolve the turf wars between the CIA, the FBI, the military, and other intelligence agencies. Further, I’m not sure a monolithic intelligence agency would be effective. By choosing Clapper, I wonder if Obama isn’t acknowledging that — for now — the military plays the primary role in fighting terrorism, and his intelligence chief must have a good working relationship with the Pentagon?
  • In other words, I support Obama’s decision.

    Fire away, mates.

    — DRJ

    4 Responses to “Intelligence Thoughts”

    1. Greetings:

      Lord knows, Saddam certainly had plenty of time to ship his WMDs to Syria while we were putz-ing around with the inimitable UN. For me, it’s a good conclusion and a good sign that he has held onto it in spite of all the nattering nabobs.

      11B40 (98b23c)

    2. if Ear Leader appointed someone competent, it must have been an accident. look for him to be fired the next time the regime has to explain why a jihadi got through all the alleged layers of security.

      if you are truly cynical, maybe they know something big is coming, and are setting up the competent people to take the blame, so they can further gut our defenses because “see, they don’t w*rk”…

      that scenario i have no problem seeing the regime playing.

      redc1c4 (fb8750)

    3. ROFL – this is great. How many times have people who mentioned this possibility with respect to Iraqi WMD been ridiculed by the BDS sufferers?

      I’m just hurting my sides with laughter.

      SPQR (26be8b)

    4. I’ve been in Intel for about 10 years now and I can attest to the fact that information sharing is a real problem. The problem; however, works both ways. There are three main classifications for information but there are also numerous caveatrs associated with those classifications. the caveats are based primarily on source info. Source and collection methods are the biggest concern when it comes to information sharing and will more often than not hinder the information flow more than anything. It is certainly understandable, and right, that they do this. In order to have access to caveated info, you must first be read on and approved to view that info. Just because you work in intel it does not mean you have access to all of it. Every element has its specific function and only the workers within that element should have access.

      The US has to closely guard its information because revelation of sources and collection means can do great harm to us as a nation or our allies. If you recall a few years back, I don’t remember the individual in particular, but there was a boneheaqded Senator that announced publicly to the media that we were tracking Bin Laden’s phone. Well, that revealed a capability the US had and shortly after this pronouncement, that phone was no longer used. The more people that have access to info, the more of a chance that it will get leaked out and our methods become null.

      That being said, info can also be scrubbed, to a degree, of information that reveals the collection means. This helps to downgrade the classification and assists in the ingest to other intelligence agencies. Unfortunately not all info can go through this process. It can be frustrating but understandably it can also be necessary. There are turf wars but not to the extent that is played out in the media. Info has to be safeguarded and caution must at all times be exercised.

      From what I am reading of Clapper, it sounds like he may be the man for the job. I cannot tell you how I know, but I theorized years ago that Iraq sent its WMD collection to Syria prior to the US invasion. I still believe that to this day.

      Paul Abraham (f1fbd3)

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