Oh no! The Disaster of the D-N-I

Some noise out there right now about what a poor job the Bush admiinstration is doing with the 9/11 Commission's DNI recommendation;

"9-11 Panel Members Say Bush's Intelligence Overhaul a 'Failure'"

Did it ever cross their obfuscating little brains that the recommendation itself was a joke?

According to testimony by ex-* and retired- CIA folks that walked away from the Agency with their credibility intact, this was the worst recommendation that the Commission put forward, and of course, the only one embraced by this administration. Here is some criticism of the Commission and their DNI recommendation;

"The 9/11 Commission had the broadest mandate of any commission in the history of the United States. With the exception of the Pearl Harbor Commission there has probably been no more important national security commission, but in terms of broad mandate, the 9/11 Commission could have looked at any aspect of this tragedy, and it’s regrettable that they didn’t do that...

...what this country needed was an independent, non-partisan commission. The Commission wasn’t non-partisan, it was presented to us as bi-partisan; but when you appoint a group of people, 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, that is certainly not non-partisan, and I would argue that it’s not even bi-partisan, it’s balanced partisanship. And you look at the Commission’s report, time and time again, to see where the Democrats on the Commission checked the views of the Republicans checked the views of the Democrats, so forget this notion that this was some sort of bi-partisan commission, it wasn’t, it was balanced partisanship, and it did a great deal of harm to the final product...

The Commission also had the very good idea, and correct idea, that they should do their own debriefings of detainees. And we didn’t know then, but we certainly know now, how the CIA and the military used torture to gain testimony from these captives. But George Tenet told the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission that they could not have the permission to debrief the detainees on their own, and the Commissioners just faded away, they didn’t pursue this matter, they didn’t ‘go to the mat’ with George Tenet on this one...

...the most important individual to me other than a commissioner, was the Staff Director, Philip Zelikow. And his conflicts of interest were so great that you do have to wonder why this individual was appointed to head this important staff of over 80 people. He had very strong ties to the George Herbert Walker Bush Administration, very strong personal and political policy ties to Condoleeza Rice. But more importantly, Philip Zelikow was running the case study program at Harvard which took millions of dollars from the CIA over a 10 year period to write case studies on the CIA, to establish a record that was essentially untrue with the facts about the work of the CIA, and of course the classic case study that Philip Zelikow chaired along with Ernest May at the Harvard-Kennedy School was the case on the Soviet Union, how the CIA got it right, you know, the politics of getting it right." - Mel Goodman, ex-CIA


"The first reform obviously was the creation of a Director of National Intelligence. I’m not going to get into the major problem of the DNI because Ray McGovern is going to discuss that from the terms of politicization of intelligence. But, I just wanna say, that if you wanted to politicize intelligence, on any sensitive issue, I can’t think of a better way to do it, than to place the DNI inside the Executive Branch.

And I don’t want to talk a lot about John Negroponte, but given his history in Nicaragua and Honduras, and the cover-ups of the rapes and the murders that took place, and we know about the cover-ups, this was certainly a poor man to turn to if we’re gonna try to really tell truth to power, which is the job of the DNI.

So you’ve taken a step that is going to be vastly expensive, vastly disruptive, and we’ve already seen the kinds of problems it’s created in the intelligence community. This problem is further worsened by the fact that John Negroponte is on record as saying that he believes that intelligence is a service function, and that the job of intelligence is to “meet consumer demands”.

Well, anyone who believes that is halfway on the road to politicization." - Mel Goodman, again.


"About the new DNI, well, what can I say. Mel has said it… I would also emphasize what Mel said this morning, it’s not the way you draw the lines in the diagrams, it’s the people.

Character counts.

Integrity counts.

Doing your job counts.

Being promoted on the basis of doing your job and telling the truth… counts.

Accountability? It’s dropped out of the dictionaries in this town. You can’t find it.

Now, I served under 9 DCI’s. And 4 at very close remove. And I can tell you that what Mel said about Admiral Turner is exactly right. He said to the President, ‘Look, I’m supposed to be head of this whole community, and I don’t have the authority. I’m a military man, and I’m very reluctant to accept responsibility without having this authority.’

And Jimmy Carter said, ‘No problem, I’ll do an executive order for you.’ He did.

Stan Turner was not loathe to knock noses around, so if the FBI was not sharing information with him, he’d go to the Oval Office and say, ‘Mr. President, would you please call the Director of the FBI and have him show me what I need, or else I can’t be your Principal Intelligence Advisor’.

So I’ve seen the system work. And more relevant to today’s proceedings, I had the good fortune to be with Stan Turner… about 11 months ago because it was about the 9/11 Commission Report, on the Lehrer Report, and as we were waiting to go on I said to Stan, ‘Why didn’t you tell the Commission that you made the system work?’

And he said, ‘Oh, Ray, I didn’t tell them.’

I said, ‘Well, Stan, you’re no “shrinking violet”, why didn’t you?’

He said, ‘No, no, Ray, you don’t understand, they didn’t want to talk to me.’

‘They didn’t want to talk to me.’ Here’s a very vigorous alumnus of this DCI post, who was around, who made the system work, and no one, staff or members of that commission saw fit to check with Stansfield Turner. It’s jus… quite remarkable." - Ray McGovern, CIA, ret.

David MacMichaels testimony is also notable, ex-CIA;

The above quotes were derived from my hand-made transcript of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's "THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT - ONE YEAR LATER - A CITIZENS' RESPONSE: DID THE COMMISSION GET IT RIGHT?"

You can download the official transcript and written submissions here;

* When I say "ex" I mean they quit because they valued their integrity more than "just following orders".