Gates, Ignatius and the lost cause

Cia_seal "· Fix the half-baked reform of the intelligence agencies. The 2004 law that created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was meant to deal with the intelligence failures that led to Sept. 11, but it instead has created more bureaucracy. Gates understands very well what’s wrong; he turned down the DNI job because he knew the structure was unwieldy. Gates has cobbled together an interim solution by working with old friends — DNI Mike McConnell, CIA Director Mike Hayden and Pentagon intelligence chief James Clapper. But the current arrangement is too dependent on personalities. A sign of continuing backroom friction is the rivalry over who will brief the presidential candidates.

The nation needs a lean, aggressive intelligence community. Nobody is better suited to finishing this job than Gates, who has seen the intelligence morass from all sides."  Ignatius


At the suggestion of one of you, I have been reading "The Black Swan" lately.  I think the author would agree that the subtext here concerning the intelligence community is more important than the issue of whom shall be Secretary of Defense.

Ignatius, like all MSM commentators lives by access to sources who can give him "the inside scoop."  This puts him at the mercy of those who have "the inside scoop" or can influence others to give it to him.

Gates, Gates, Gates, Gates.  Who do you suppose is the real source of this column?  I do not think it is Gates.  No.  It is probably the misty eyed sexagenerians who yearn for the "restoration" of CIA power over the intelligence community.  Would they like to see Dod power reduced?  You bet.  In the good old days before the Soviets collapsed the CIA tended to believe that they were the defense of the West, pretty much all by themselves.  These old geezers and geezerettes are tired of watching espionage movies on cable.  Their outrage at the disruption of the universe of intelligence work still burns bright, and the folks they mentored at Langley are yearning right along with them.  Give it up.  You had a good run no matter what the left thinks.

Yes, Gates has been a good Secretary of Defense.  After Rumsfeld, it would have been difficult to look bad, but, he has done a good job.  Should he be kept on as SecDef?  Probably not.  It is generally not a good idea to keep key subordinates on from previous regimes.  This is true in any field, at any level.  They always have a different agenda than the one you bring with you.  Get new people!  Hagel, Clark, Webb are all good possibilities for SecDef if the man who can’t use a computer is not elected.  I would prefer Hagel, but…. Any of them would be a good bet.

Gates is too smart to welcome this log rolling on his behalf.  pl

This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Gates, Ignatius and the lost cause

  1. lina says:

    My dear departed father, a cold warrior at Langley for three decades (beginning pre-Langley actually) believed the Church Committee was the death knell of his beloved agency. A few days after 9/11/01 I called him and asked “Do you believe the Church hearings were the beginning of the end for the CIA?” He replied “It wasn’t the beginning of the end – it WAS the end.”
    For thirty years the emphasis on high tech over human intelligence appears to have taken its toll. With respect to the creation of the DNI, I wish someone would explain to me how the Republicans in power get away with making the bureaucracy larger while still claiming the mantle of “smaller government.” How does that work exactly?

  2. Richard Whitman says:

    Regardless of who is elected, we will probably see Gates as head of a number of commissions on reform of the defense or intelligence establishments.

  3. Patrick Lang says:

    Blue Girl
    I do not believe that to be true. I think that a retired service member can take any civilian position that is offered, but someone will say. pl

  4. Cieran says:

    Good to hear you’re reading Taleb. He would be my second-favorite applied epistemologist (after you, of course).
    Taleb’s web page is here:
    and that domain name (which is also the title of an earlier book of his) says much about his theses towards making sense of the world.

  5. frogspawn says:

    Blue Girl is correct, per Wikipedia.
    I think this only applies to the SecDef; Clark could have any other Cabinet post, as far as I know.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    froggy, blue girl et al
    The Marhsall thing threw me off. they modified the law for him. Thank God. What a president he would have been. pl

  7. Matthew says:

    Col: What do you think of the central premise of “The Black Swan”?
    I loved the book. IMHO, it shows the futility of putting the word “science” in the titles of all “social sciences,” like economics.
    If you like the book, you may also enjoy his other title, “Fooled by Randomness.”

  8. Mad Dogs says:

    I noticed you passed on quoting the first suggestion of David Ignatius:

    · Fix the NSC structure so that it is designed to deal with today’s “soft power” challenges rather than the old Cold War problems. Specifically, a Gates commission should think about how to focus money and expertise on the nation-building problems that now fall between the cracks of the interagency system.

    (My Bold)
    I too would have passed on it as merely the simple product of a simple mind, but for one thing, and that is the lamentable fact that too many of the foreign policy “experts” living in “The Village” (again, that means Washington DC, or the Beltway to us rubes in Flyover land), seem to be spouting this bit of pretentiousness as Gospel everywhere you look.
    Nation-building? ¿Por qué? (Why?) ¡Porque! (Because!)
    A couple of questions arise:
    Uhmmm…what exactly is nation-building?
    Aren’t all these nations already built? Or is he referring to demolition followed by reconstruction?
    Uhmmm…do the architects have a plan?
    The Neocons/Jacobins do (drawn on a napkin). Might one use the “Sweden” model? How about the “Cuba” model? How about the “Israel” model? How about the “US” model? I think we all agree to not to use the “Iraq” or “Afghanistan” model.
    Uhmmm…who exactly does this nation-building?
    In the “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” models, that seems to be the military folks. That hasn’t worked out to well, has it? And I don’t think the military are really chompin’ at the bit to add this to their répertoire.
    I guess one of Pat’s original points in this post was not to take what David Ignatius says all too seriously.
    That is probably worth repeating. And repeating!

  9. Paul says:

    General Marshall’s accomplishments as a military and civilian leader were enormous compared to the achievements of those now in power.
    He was a man of strength who possessed the humility of an ordinary person.
    His humility is on display in the photograph at Wikepedia’s entry. Three rows of ribbons; he probably rated three times that many. Compare that to the garish display of stars, badges and ribbons on full display on today’s senior officers. The only Army badge that means anything is the CIB. In this modern age humility is akin to high-button shoes.
    Marshall was a giant compared to the too-many midgets of our generation. breakfast. I agree that he would have been a fine president.

  10. Patrick Lang says:

    Does it matter what the decisions were or does any decision meet that criterion? pl

  11. Cold War Zoomie says:

    When people are finding meaning in things-beware.
    -Edward Gorey

  12. jonst says:

    Think it fair to point out that others besides “leftists” changed, or alluded to, changed minds on the utility of the CIA. Kennan and Truman among them.

  13. jonst says:

    Well, I see Russian tanks are on the march again! Perhaps inspire the old geezers to go back into training and dig up the old manuals again.

  14. taters says:

    I was about to post that Wes clark is ineligle, he wouldn’t be eligle until 2010. In lieu of him, I suggest another name in the pot. Pat Lang.
    I agree that Chuck Hagel would be a fine choice. And IMHO his brother Tom should definitely be in charge of Veterans’ Affairs.

  15. Dan O'Donnell says:

    A good way to get started with Black Swan is by reading the wiki page for Nicholas Taleb. This is a bio, but has references to summaries and talks. Also, there is a ninety minute video of Mr. Taleb presenting the concept (words and illustrations) at Long Now (membership required for the full video).

Comments are closed.