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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Do we need a director of national intelligence?

By Jennifer Rubin

The New York Post editorial board, with hilarious panache, goes after the clueless director of national intelligence:

On Monday, Diane Sawyer asked the White House's top anti-terrorism brains about the fallout from the sweeping arrests of 12 men in the UK early that morning.

Clapper's response: Silence. Crickets. The sound of one career, well, imploding. Pressed by Sawyer, he admitted he simply hadn't heard of the matter.

It was a mortifying lapse given Clapper's position: As DNI, he oversees all 16 US intelligence agencies and serves as chief intel adviser to the president. . . .

At least the White House has finally outlined its true security strategy.

Step 1: Pretend radical Muslims aren't at war with the US. When that fails . . .

Step 2: Close your eyes.

More shocking than the DNI's dimness was the nonchalant response of the White House and some Democrats. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) warned against exaggeration, saying that to "push this to any elevated status is a big, fat mistake." As big and fat a mistake as appearing utterly out to lunch on a major terror incident?

White House officials didn't exactly say, "Heck of a job, Brownie, er, Jimmy," but neither did they seem all that perturbed: "White House counterterrorism chief John O. Brennan said Clapper had been in classified Senate briefings about other subjects Monday when news broke that 12 terrorism suspects had been arrested in a London-based terror plot."

Putting aside the hapless Clapper, this should raise a more fundamental question: Do we need the DNI post at all? The elaborate reworking of our intelligence structure after Sept. 11 has made the system more cumbersome. But has it made us safer? Well, if it's no big deal that the DNI missed a significant terror incident, then maybe his job and many layers of bureaucracy can be eliminated.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 23, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  National Security  
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Comments

After last year's national security fiasco, Obama thought it would be a good idea to have Diane Sawyer interview the Three Blind Mice

Obama's two major areas are National Security and the Economy

We are now being told to believe that Obam has all these "accomplishments" and yet Obama has done nothing on JOBS and we are supposed to believe that the best he can do on National Security is the Three Blind Mice


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Posted by: RainForestRising | December 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

With your writing skill and flair, Jennifer, you could do something with this story built upon the classic Carson clapper caper.

Posted by: cim1 | December 23, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The difference between then and now is that the left raised its voice at every gaffe made by the Bush admin. We must emulate them if we are going to have any impact.
by incessantly whining about Bush they were, over time, able to reduce his standing and therefore his effectiveness. Unless we want to live in a socialist paradise (an oxymoron to be sure) we must do the same.

Every time an Obama person acts inept, we must pounce on it and repeat it throughout the land. We must hammer away relentlessly. We must convince America that Obama is inept and therefore a danger to us. Our position has the additional virtue of being true.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 23, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The DNI's office has had some considerable accomplishments. An IC-wide culture has begun to take hold, training has improved, they've developed some core tradecraft standards to improve analytic quality across the community, and improved information sharing and collaboration.

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-54-no.-3/pdfs/Extract-Cardillo%20IC%20Reform-Cultural%20Evolution.pdf

These efforts have brought the community together in ways never dreamed of before. There is great value in having a leader of the IC, particularly one that isn't embedded into a single agency, but instead looks across them all to orchestrate their efforts.

Regarding this incident, I think we shouldn't make more out of it than it is: Analysts are responsible for discovering terror plots, not the director. While surprising that he hadn't been briefed yet, he is is responsible for managing the community and briefing the president. He simply hadn't been informed yet -- bad staff work sums it up.

Posted by: jrw4 | December 23, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

How about consolidating some of the sixteen different intelligence agencies? Hey Republicans, you guys don't like overarching big government and you want to trim the budget so why aren't you guys all over this? How many intel. agencies does an allegedly free country really need?

Posted by: Agonizing_Truth | December 24, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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