Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trump to Close ODNI?

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Click here for referenced story [The Hill, Katie Bo Williams 11/18/16]

Not long ago, Presidential Candidate Trump was condemned by the Media when he announced that he did not trust the Intelligence briefings of the US Intelligence Community.

"...Trump said he does not trust information coming out of US intelligence agencies and indicated he would cease relying on the bulk of the intelligence community's massive workforce."
[we added italics, underlining, and color to emphasize the nuance of Trump's statement]

Trump's more complete statement:
"Very easy to use them, but I won't use them because they've made such bad decisions"
He was referring to intelligence failures leading to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on the Intelligence Briefing Bush received which declared Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction!  

Notably, those WMDs never materialized, and Bush came under constant criticism from all sides, to include our allies.  Financially, the Iraq War(s) will have an estimated tab of nearly $4 Trillion, plus an expected $490 billion in benefits owed to the war veterans, a death toll of up to 189,000 security forces, insurgents, contractors, and humanitarian workers, and of course, close to 5,000 US Military casualties.
Intelligence Community Seal
[Our knowledge of the US Intelligence Community [IC] includes experience in Military Intelligence tactical and strategic analytical positions (authoring NIEs and as Editor of the Black Book at the Pentagon); as the TASCOM C2 in NATO Exercise ABLE ARCHER 76, managing NATO Intelligence resources; as SouthCom's J2 in the [global] Exercise ABLE ARCHER 83, directing All-Source Intelligence collection and reporting - to include NSA and NRO; and as a strategic analyst at the State Department Bureau of Research & Intelligence [INR]. We also served as"special assistant" to Vernon Walters (Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and President Reagan's Ambassador at Large (and Deep Throat in the Watergate fiasco).  We were operational in both covert and clandestine roles for Army, CIA, and DIA.]

[We provide our credentials, not to brag, but to quiet those armchair intel pseudo-experts who would condemn us for our supposed lack of expertise or our wearing a tin foil hat -- an item of apparel we now wear with dignity having had our blog posts now validated by the recent release of Hillary's emails.]

One of our initiatives in 2012 was to rate the CIA vs the DIA, when LTG Mike Flynn was running it.  You might want to review that before reading this post further.

But, we've digressed.

The point of this discussion is the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was created via the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which directs the activities of ALL the components of the US Intelligence Community [see the chart above].

Selection of the Director was to be based on the candidate's background which should include "... experience as an Active Duty Armed Forces commissioned officer or have training or experience in Military Intelligence and requirements".  President George W Bush strengthened this office by upgrading President Reagan's Executive Order 12333.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence replaced the office of the Director of Central Intelligence, which was also the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- which under Director George Tenet managed to politicize virtually every National Intelligence Estimate he produced -- leading to incredibly WRONG assessments of threats to the United States, and to the lack of forewarning of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
[We've always regarded Tenet as an incompetent political hack and buffoon, and were stunned when W retained him as DCI following 9/11; but, that buffoonry tradition was maintained with the appointments of Leon Panetta and John Brennan].

Ed Meese
Back in 2002, we met with Ed Meese, President Reagan's Chief of Staff and his Attorney General, to review the intelligence failures leading to 9/11, and earlier debacles.

Our chief criticism of the Intelligence Community was that the Director of CIA -- one of many intelligence agencies, was also Director of Central Intelligence, i.e., controlling the output of ALL the agencies within the Intelligence Community [IC].

Most importantly, the DCI could, and did override all other threat assessments of the IC, often with politicized arguments completely at odds with much more accurate assessments by DIA, Treasury, or State Department analysts.

[We gained White House recognition when Pentagon and State Department leaders provided the President with copies of the Pentagon Black Book content, which addressed specific military and technology threats.  

[As the editor of the Black Book, we periodically accepted furtive submissions from analysts at other IC agencies whose analyses and assessments were spiked by their directors for political reasons; once their material appeared in the Black Book and gained White House attention, those directors were forced to have those same analysts present full assessments to both the White House and the entire IC.  

We took great delight in our publishing process.]

In addition, the DCI could, and did override and suborn clandestine and covert operations developed and funded by Military Intelligence agencies, frequently converting highly effective operations into blunders which made international  headlines.  When these catastrophes occurred, CIA would immediately label these blunders as Military Intelligence failures to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence  [SSCI] and demand more control of Intelligence operations -- and diminish the capabilities of Military Intelligence operations.

Thus, there was only one Intelligence Agency in Washington which had the attention of the President as the DCI also prepared the President's Daily Brief [PDB] and the National Intelligence Daily [NID] -- both of which spoke for the ENTIRE IC -- omitting dissenting assessments.

[Later, we gathered Intelligence officers from all the Military Services to secretly lobby the JCS and Congress to form the Defense Clandestine Service {DCS], the official authorization for which was based on a  HUMINT strategy we developed at the US Southern Command in 1983 called Plan Green  -- which had been blessed by the CJCS and the SSCI.  The DCS was formed in 1984 as DIA's first operational element with the blessing of the SSCI and the Chairman of the JCS; it became an equal of the CIA and targeted potential military adversaries of the US, while the CIA focused almost solely on targeting the KGB and GRU.]

Once we had laid out the issues to Meese, citing dozens of catastrophic CIA failures, he challenged us with creating a "cure" for the problem.  Our response was the need to separate and remove the linkage of the Director of Central Intelligence from the CIA, thus depoliticizing the IC as a whole.

We proposed using the existing DCI structure in which all IC agencies were represented at the existing DCI [nondescript]  office located near to the White House.  Members from all the IC agencies met there routinely to discuss operational proposals, and, on occasion, to share leads.  The system worked quite well, although the CIA rarely attended, but monitored lest it might miss out on a high-profile operation which it could purloin.

We pressed our proposal on the basis that a functional organization, with a lean, efficient, staffing process already existed; it merely needed to be separated from the CIA and made apolitical.  Meese acknowledged the sensibility of the concept, and proposed it to the 9/11 Commission, which recommended it to Congress - which in turn, implemented the concept with legislation, which was signed by President Bush in December, 2004.

Negroponte at Palmerola Air Base
We grieved, however, at the appointment of Ambassador Negroponte as the first DNI, whose only positive, in our opinion, was that he and Kissinger hated each other.  We first met Negroponte, a humorless, self-absorbed intellectual who, as Reagan's ambassador to Honduras, escalated the Military presence, bumping the US Military assistance budget from $4 Million to $77 Million -- creating a massive ground and air force to combat a negligible "insurgency", but realistically, to support the Contras in their [failed] campaign against the Nicaraguan Sandinista communist regime.

Our meeting was to propose a Military Intelligence clandestine infiltration of the insurgency to determine its structure, leadership, and weaknesses.  Negroponte dismissed the concept outright, siding with his CIA Station Chief [a former US Air Force enlisted Air Policeman who had no clandestine training or experience, and who had never fired a weapon larger than a .38 revolver].

Worse, our vision of a lean, efficient coordinating office which would open effective communication channels among all the IC agencies was shattered as the standard bureaucratic expansion process kicked in with hundreds of senior executives and staffs created, multiplying the original staff of a few hundred to 7,500, and, by 2010, had bloated to nearly 20,000 [we can only presume the ODNI staffing is closer to 30,000 today].

The IC, by 2010, had grown to about 850,000 personnel -- roughly ten times the number in 2000.

As former DNI Dennis Blair noted,
"After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we often do 
-- the attitude was, if it's worth doing, it's probably worth overdoing."

LTG Vines

Notably, John Vines, a retired Army general with a distinguished combat career, in his review of the IC/DNI process in 2010, advised:

"I'm not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility, or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities; the complexity of this system defies description."

The basic difficulties with the current structure of the ODNI are:

1) The mere size of the bloated organization "defies description" and is impossible to manage due to the size and number [16] of agencies [and far more sub-agencies] within the IC.

2)  Merely becoming familiar with, and not necessarily knowledgeable of all the programs within the IC is a virtually impossible task, unless one has spent a career within the IC and understands not only the terminology and nuances, but the missions of each.  Trying to grasp the IC content and its meaning is best described as "trying to drink from a fire hose at full blast".
a) Chairing the HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] does not qualify an individual to become the Director of National Intelligence as it would take him/her years just to learn all the acronyms -- which change frequently.  George Tenet proved the idiocy of such leadership, leading to countless intelligence failures.

b)Ultimately, the politicized DNI bureaucracy will undercut any leader not already fully experienced in the Intelligence Community.

Qadafi - No longer our asset
c) HUMINT [Human Intelligence] needs to be revived; it has been undercut and essentially eliminated as an operational option -- substituting instead Covert operations relying on door-kicking SpecOps troops in the place of long-term, quiet infiltration of military and political targets via sophisticated clandestine operations.

Hillary's use of NATO in the displacement [assassination] of Qadafi destroyed our greatest recruited HUMINT asset as Qadafi's spies had penetrated every known terrorist organization, and provided superb reporting to us on terrorist organization leadership, structure, location of cells, and communications.  The loss of Qadafi as a critical asset has allowed the emergence and growth of a well-equipped and agile enemy, ISIS, which we cannot hope to penetrate.

c) Jim Clapper, an NSA techie, has demonstrated his sole focus on technical collection means at the expense of HUMINT overt and clandestine [spy] operations, ignoring the value of actually penetrating enemy organizations.  Clapper has essentially destroyed the HUMINT role in Intelligence collection.
ADM Mike Rogers
d) The DNI needs a broad management background in all the INTs of Intelligence, both technical and human.  Mike Rogers, though well qualified in technical areas, could use a broader understanding of all the INTs in the IC.

Admiral Mike Rogers, a techie and currently head of NSA and the Cyber Command, is reportedly Trump's choice as the new DNI -- and is under fire for recently meeting with Trump privately;  officially, however, criticism of Rogers is that Ed Snowden blew the whistle on NSA -- before Rogers arrived].

3)  The bloating process in the Intelligence Community has removed any possibility of effective internal coordination within the different IC elements, much less among the myriad IC organizations.

4)  The bureaucratic growth has meant the creation of new subsets of bureaucracies, each with its own bloating process as managers seek to expand their roles, power, and budgets, based on the size of their organizations -- diminishing any level of efficiency in processing intelligence into a useable form which can be integrated into a National Intelligence Estimate [NIE] for use by the Cabinet and the President in an effective decision-making process.

[We recall in our role as editor of the Black Book, and later as DirOps of the DCS, that we could assemble key representatives of the entire IC and convene a meeting with a few hours notice with the objective of assessing any given critical situation in the world.]

Meeting recently with a senior Pentagon official, we were informed that such impromptu meetings could never take place in today's IC environment since the bureaucratic coordination would take weeks, at a minimum.

Getting an "appointment" with any senior official in DOD or elsewhere in the IC would take months.
Creating an objective, salient NIE is almost impossible these days since there are endless meetings of bureaucrats over and above the analysts and operatives, all of whom are hesitant to put their names on a document with which the President, or senior officials might not like.

In essence, the Intelligence products which float to the top as "Estimates" or formal briefs lack substance and are so vague and politicized as to be worthless.

Trump's view of these products is quite accurate

"Very easy to use them, but I won't use them because they've made such bad decisions"

Our solution?

Don't eliminate the DNI just yet.

1) Reduce the size of the DNI to a workable operating staff, perhaps from 2,500 to 200.

2) Define the roles of each key staff member as a "coordinator"  to bring together key staffers from each agency to maximize the efficiency of each collection or operational task.

3) Shrink the Intelligence Community to manageable levels and cut 75 per cent of the senior officials -- they get in the way of the people who do the work and serve no purpose.

There are plenty of additional solutions, but these are the ones we'd recommend to start with.  It will take the majority of Mr Trump's first term to transform the IC into a relatively efficient and effective organization, but it's do-able.