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.