Truth to Power

The sorry state of US intelligence

Add to the list of President George W. Bush’s failures his inability to straighten out what he regarded as one of the top national security needs: a more effective U.S. intelligence community.

Despite upping the U.S. intelligence budget to $45 billion from about $30 billion–and signing legislation in 2005 meant to end “turf” battles–Bush left behind an intelligence community suffering from poor communications among agencies and a flawed management structure, according to an inspector general’s report finished in November and released last week.

Instead of creating a streamlined and efficient intelligence community, the changes that Bush oversaw appear simply to have added a new layer of bureaucracy–the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)–on top of the earlier system whose shortcomings contributed to intelligence failures around the 9/11 attacks and the bogus assessments on Iraq’s WMD stockpiles.

However, the November 2008 inspector general’s report to the Director of National Intelligence, made public April 1st, indicates that while the Bush-Cheney administration pursued its aggressive tactics–torturing suspects, putting warrantless wiretaps on Americans, invading Iraq and creating an imperial presidency–it was ignoring the nuts and bolts of improving U.S. intelligence.

For instance, the IG report found that computer systems supposedly connecting the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies remain “largely disconnected and incompatible.” The “turf” battles also continue, with “few, if any, consequences for failure to collaborate,” the report said.</em>

So, after what was referred to as the absolute failure of our intelligence community- 9/11- what did the Bush administration do to correct these lapses? Apparently nothing. Which begs the question- is the intelligence industry there to provide answers…or cover? I mean, if you spend billions and billions of dollars on spies, and they can’t find out that a guy in a cave taking dialysis means to fly planes into multiple American targets, then what good are they? Wouldn’t you fire those asleep at the wheel? You know, to “keep America safe”?

You and I would. Bush didn’t.

Why not?


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