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By Geoff Metcalf

June 15, 2004

Problems are inevitable�solutions are not.

We have already been teased with reports of a draft 9/11 Commission report that reportedly avoids "partisan attacks" (kinda late for that) yet rips the FBI and assorted Intelligence agencies for assorted 'failures' that contributed to the 9/11 tragedies.

Former Navy Secretary and commission member John Lehman said, "There's broad consensus that major changes are needed. This is not just a question of running faster, jumping higher. We need to ensure the fusion and sharing of all intelligence that could have helped us to avoid 9/11."

There may be "broad consensus" on the need for change, but no consonance on specifics of WHAT to change.

One recurring refrain is the creation of a domestic intelligence agency to be modeled after Britain's MI5. Given the realities of the 'war on terrorism', it is a bad idea to create a new monster government bureaucracy.

  • MI5, collects, analyzes and disseminates intelligence but has no law enforcement powers.
  • Creating such an agency would take time (we don't have), effort (that could be better directed), and disrupt established organizations (when we need to stay mission oriented).
  • It would be beaucoup expensive.
  • The learning curve would be horrific.
  • The 'territorial imperatives' of other established intelligence initialed organizations would reinforce walls, barriers, and systemic carcinogens at a time they need to be eliminated.

Another real bad idea kicking around is to expand the already megaopoly of the Justice Department's FBI.

  • The FBI is an 'investigative' agency tasked with building 'criminal' investigations of US Attorneys.
  • The skill set for FBI agents is similar but different from the OCONUS CIA counterparts who are tasked with developing and analyzing intelligence.
  • FBI Director Mueller told a House Appropriations subcommittee that an independent domestic spy agency would have to duplicate much of the expertise already in the FBI and harm what's become the bureau's top priority: fighting terrorism. "Any reform proposal must recognize that intelligence is fundamental to successful FBI operations," he said. "Intelligence functions are woven throughout the fabric of the bureau, and any changes to this integrated approach would be counterproductive."

However, what Mueller fails to include in his analysis is that the duplication of effort line also applies to the CIA where intelligence functions are not just "woven throughout the fabric" of the Agency, but IS the fabric of the CIA.

No one seems interested in synthesizing the complementary skills and institutional knowledge of the CIA and the FBI?

A reasonable solution to the anticipated necessities the 9/11 commission will identify may traumatize organizational management wonks, and D.C. bureaucracy builders, but here it is:

  • 1, Create a directorate tasked with domestic intelligence collection and analysis.
  • 2, 'Borrow' and recruit intelligence officers and analysis assets from the CIA for the new directorate.
  • 3, Co-mingle FBI criminal investigators with CIA analysts under one mandate an honestly synthesize the two worlds.

The unfortunate reality is that in government more attention, focus, and dedication are on the bureaucracy than on the mission.

An interesting historical counterpoint to contemporary 'turf wars' in government (and the 'reason' for that Jaime Gorelick enhanced 'wall' between the FBI and CIA) is the precursor to the CIA: The Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

Once upon a time, when our country was faced with the epic challenges of the Second World War, 'Wild Bill' Donovan was given a mission�and the freedom and resources to create the OSS. In 1942 the Office of Strategic Services was new to our government and it became the cornerstone of what eventually became the CIA and the military's Special Operations groups.

When the OSS was created J. Edgar Hoover got his panties in a bunch. He considered it a threat to his bureaucracy building at the FBI. But it WORKED. Eventually, President Truman shut down the OSS after WWII but it became the outline in 1947 for the establishment of the CIA.

"The failure to thwart the 9/11 catastrophe was in part the result of the failure to communicate both internally and externally about information collected by our intelligence agencies," Lehman said. "Had there been effective use of the information, the possibility exists the 9/11 plot could have been disrupted."

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said cooperation between the CIA and FBI on counter terrorism has never been better. Cool! So build on that�. The commission has attributed problems in part to the loose-knit nature of the intelligence community, which didn't always cooperate because CIA Director George Tenet lacked adequate authority.,2933,122181,00.html

We ARE at war. We need to create intelligence tools (and entities) which are Mission Oriented�not organizationally oriented.

If a committee of self-interested bureaucrats is allowed to structure the new 'fix' to our pre-9/11 shortcomings, the inmates will indeed have assumed management of the asylum.

We need to throw out old paradigms and permit the 'fix' to evolve from what is needed�not what some government institution wants.

What we as a country need (like breath) is for some grown up to recognize the imperative of synthesizing the talent, skills, and ability of our existing initialied organizations, and utilize those assets to fight the war�not get wrapped around some bureaucratic axle of fitting square pegs in round holes.

� 2004 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:







"The unfortunate reality is that in government more attention, focus, and dedication are on the bureaucracy than on the mission."