In First Act as DNI, James Clapper Adds to Redundancy Competitive Analysis

When James Clapper testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he rejected one of the central criticisms in the WaPo’s Top Secret America series–that the redundancy in the Intelligence Community contributed to waste and intelligence failures.

Clapper disputed criticism of redundancy in intelligence programs, saying that duplication is sometimes a conscious decision. “One man’s duplication is another man’s competitive analysis,” he said.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that his first act as DNI is to add to the redundancy.

After my second week on the job, I wanted to let you know what an honor it is to be leading this Community of such skilled and dedicated professionals.

When President Obama asked me to lead the Intelligence Community he said he wanted someone who would continue to build our enterprise into an integrated team.  I have begun to embark on that process and wanted to share with you a few of my initial thoughts and plans.

I have asked DIA Deputy Director Robert Cardillo to join ODNI in the newly-created role of Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration.  While the specifics of this position are still being developed, it unites the roles of Analysis and Collection to elevate information sharing and collaboration between these two essential functions.

Admittedly, Clapper doesn’t explain what he just hired a top DOD intell guy to do, but it sure seems like it overlaps with the mandate of the National Counterterrorism Center.

NCTC serves as the primary organization in the United States Government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to terrorism possessed or acquired by the United States Government (except purely domestic terrorism); serves as the central and shared knowledge bank on terrorism information; provides all-source intelligence support to government-wide counterterrorism activities; establishes the information technology (IT) systems and architectures within the NCTC and between the NCTC and other agencies that enable access to, as well as integration, dissemination, and use of, terrorism information.

NCTC serves as the principal advisor to the DNI on intelligence operations and analysis relating to counterterrorism, advising the DNI on how well US intelligence activities, programs, and budget proposals for counterterrorism conform to priorities established by the President.

And the move is all the more bizarre given that Clapper only has this job because the Administration chose to fire Dennis Blair rather than hold Michael Leiter, the Director of the NCTC, responsible for failing to connect the dots on the UndieBomber attack, even though it appears that Leiter deserves more of the blame. So if I’m right that this new position is duplicative of the NCTC position, then the Administration has chosen not to fire the guy most responsible for missing the UndieBomber clues, and instead fire the DNI and replace him with a guy that–rather than firing the guy most responsible for missing the UndieBomber clues–will instead just create a second version of that guy’s position.

Now in an ideal world, the next time someone misses an attack, we’ll be justified in firing Clapper, since he’s the guy who opted for redundancy rather than holding one person responsible. But I’m guessing by then Clapper will be capitalizing on his inevitably short tenure as DNI, getting rich heading six or eight intelligence contractors.

  1. Peterr says:

    Admittedly, Clapper doesn’t explain what he just hired a top DOD intell guy to do, but it sure seems like it overlaps with the mandate of the National Counterterrorism Center.

    That’s kind of the point, I think.

    From NCTC’s “about us” page:

    The Director of NCTC is a Deputy Secretary-equivalent with a unique, dual line of reporting: (1) to the President regarding Executive branch-wide counterterrorism planning, and (2) to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) regarding intelligence matters. NCTC follows the policy direction of the President, and National and Homeland Security Councils.

    Seems to me that Clapper is saying “I want NCTC to report only to me, but if I can’t have that, I’ll get my own in-house version of them to report to me — and then when we go after “redundant” organizations, it will be easier to eliminate NCTC and leave my own group intact.”

    It’s not surprising to see turf wars in DC, but to have the new DNI fire a shot at a competitor as his first official act is a bit unusual.

    • Phoenix Woman says:

      Seems to me that Clapper is saying “I want NCTC to report only to me, but if I can’t have that, I’ll get my own in-house version of them to report to me — and then when we go after “redundant” organizations, it will be easier to eliminate NCTC and leave my own group intact.”

      That’s straight out of the Hyman Rickover Manual of How to Do End Runs to Build and Protect Your Own Power Base.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Maybe OT, maybe not; I’d be the last to know.

    However, I clicked onto RealNewsNetwork (RNN) earlier and saw the weirdest thing: a video about the notorious Viktor Bout being extradicted from Thailand to US.

    Well, having won my one and only EW HubbaHubbaHubcap by mentioning ‘Viktor Bout’ in a thread, of course I had to go digging up a few more links to be sure that it was remotely conceivable that Bout might actually be released to the US. So here a few good oldies from EW: March 2008 here, less than a month ago in July 2010 [see esp Gitcheegumie’s 58, 68, 69, 71], and June 2010 asking about whether there might be some weirder significance to those Russian spies being swept up and put on a plane to Moscow. (FWIW, ‘Anna Chapman’s’ dad was reported to be an old KGBer somewhere in Africa, no? And Viktor Bout operates out of Africa and has a big spread in South Africa… maybe just coinkydink.)

    My super-extralong-very-extended lunch break also led me to stumble on this old item at DKos, worth a link.

    So I’m finally getting on with my day, but want a quiet distractor in the background, so I click over to the Guardian’s video pages, to World News, and there is — Viktor Bout, in leg chains (there’s a bit of his wife weeping, no doubt intended to draw sympathy, hahahahaha).

    I’m damned if I know how this all relates to redundancy, but I do think it’s weird.
    And I figured that I might click on over here and shill for a HubbaHubbaHubcap, since the only way that I ever seem to get one is to mention: “Viktor Bout”. May his soul languish in the deepest realms of hell.
    But I’m still willing to shill for a hubcap, if bmaz is in a really, really fine mood…. (5 links, bmaz! That’s nearly a record for me ;-))

  3. fatster says:

    O/T–heh heh

    Lawyer Suing Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Chases Him to Abu Dhab

    “A lawyer representing former Blackwater employees who accuse company founder Erik Prince of defrauding the government will head to Abu Dhabi this weekend to depose the head of the controversial contractor.

    “Susan Burke, who has already settled seven suits against Prince in relation to the shooting of Iraqi citizens in 2007, will depose Prince in the United Arab Emirates, writes her husband Jamison Koehler.”


    • fatster says:

      And there’s more.

      Blackwater agrees to pay $42 million fine

      “Xe, the private security company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has agreed to pay a 42 million dollar fine for violating US export regulations, The New York Times has reported.
      . . .
      “Five executives from the controversial company still face indictment on weapons charges, while at least two ex-employees face murder charges after two Afghans died in Kabul in May 2009.”


  4. ShotoJamf says:

    Oh Boy, more redundancy, compartmentalization and layering! And best of all? More money for crappier intel! Whoopty Do!

  5. Teddy Partridge says:

    Are there any unconnected dots left?
    Aren’t we looking at an entirely colored-in page now?

  6. hijean831 says:

    A relative served in Naval intelligence in Korea during Clapper’s stint there. Claims he’s known within those circles as a straight shooter, or at least he was then. FWIW.

  7. bobschacht says:

    I would like to see Congressional hearings on the loyalties of contractors. After all, contractors like Xe/Blackwater are now openly international. Do all contractors need to take an oath of loyalty to the U.S.? I mean, how are these guys different from mercenaries? And how did dependence on mercenaries work out for the Roman Emperor Orestes and his son Romulus Augustus in 476?

    The story is summarized in the Wikipedia article on mercenaries as follows:

    In the late Roman Empire, it became increasingly difficult for Emperors and generals to raise military units from the citizenry for various reasons: lack of manpower, lack of time available for training, lack of materials, and, inevitably, political considerations. Therefore, beginning in the late 4th century, the empire often contracted whole bands of barbarians either within the legions or as autonomous foederati….

    The result was that the mercenaries began to make demands that the Emperors were loath to grant, leading to revolts by the mercenaries and the overthrow of the established governments.

    It is true that contractors like Blackwater vigorously reject the label of mercenaries, but is there any real difference?

    I would hope that Obama and Hilary Clinton are thinking carefully about this. With Gates, they have begun “insourcing” those functions once again.

    But at present, the residual force of U.S. military in Iraq of 50,000 will still require some 70,000 contractors, according to the Rachel Maddow show tonight. This is not a good ratio.

    Bob in AZ