Jewish World Review July 2, 2002 / 22 Tamuz, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | When Alexander the Great led his army into the town of Gordium in Phyrgia (about 100 miles west of Ankara in present day Turkey), he encountered in front of the temple of Zeus there an oxcart tied to a pole with an intricate knot. Legend had it that whoever could untie the knot would rule all of Asia. Many before Alexander tried. All failed. Alexander solved the problem by cutting the cord with his sword.

Alexander's example suggests the cure for the intelligence failures the United States experienced on and leading up to Sept. 11 may be to create a new intelligence agency. That could solve many otherwise knotty problems in the CIA and the FBI.

It is not possible to create an intelligence capability overnight. It takes years to develop a good intelligence analyst, longer to infiltrate agents into suspect groups. But a new intelligence agency can be created almost overnight. And - if it leaves behind the baggage that has accumulated in the existing agencies - it can make more efficient use of existing intelligence resources.

The FBI and the CIA carry cultural and legal baggage. The FBI is a police agency. The job of a police agency is to catch people who have committed crimes and put them in jail. That's an important job, but it is a different job from that of an intelligence agency, which is to find out what is going on. A CIA officer explained the difference to journalist Seymour Hersh: "The FBI catches bank robbers. We break into banks."

Both the FBI and the CIA have top-heavy bureaucratic structures which, like top-heavy bureaucratic structures everywhere, have become narrowly focused and risk-averse.

In addition to the hobbles their own bureaucracies impose upon the FBI and the CIA, there are legal restrictions. The CIA was forced to drop the trail of two terror suspects they trailed from Malaysia to San Diego, because the law forbids the CIA from operating in the United States. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) established a series of baroque hoops through which the FBI must jump in order to conduct surveillance on domestic terror suspects. Concerns about obtaining a FISA warrant caused FBI headquarters to forbid agents in Minneapolis to examine the computer of Zacarious Moussouai, the alleged "20th hijacker."

A new intelligence agency would not have the suffocating bureaucratic climate of the FBI or the CIA. Nor need it be subject to the legal restraints which handicap those agencies.

Where would the people to staff a new intelligence agency come from? Some would be transfers from existing agencies. A rich source would be recent retirees from the intelligence community. During the Clinton years, the CIA forced out many of the finest officers in its clandestine service. Others quit in disgust. Army, Navy and Air Force intelligence officers rarely make general. So many retire in what is the prime of their intellectual life. R. James Woolsey, President Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence, has advocated creation of an American counterpart to Britain's MI5. A hawkish Democrat and well-connected Washington attorney, Woolsey would be a good person to head the new agency. He knows Capitol Hill and is respected on both sides of the aisle. He is well suited to be the outside face of the Federal Intelligence Service.

Day to day management of the Central Intelligence Agency is in the hands not of CIA Director George Tenet, but of Deputy Director John McLaughlin. For Deputy Director of the FIS - Mr. Inside - I'd choose retired Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters.

I think Peters (who is a friend) is the smartest man in America. Most people who read his prescient book, Beyond Terror , will I think agree. But don't just take my word for it:

"Anyone who wants to understand the world after the September 11 attacks should begin by reading Ralph Peters, who understood what was going on years before that horrible day," said Tom Ricks of the Washington Post. We have a wealth of intelligence resources in this country. But they are poorly utilized. A "corporate restructuring" is in order.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.




Comment on JWR contributor Jack Kelly's column by clicking here.

06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly