Backchannel chatter: Change the DNI's job
A former key intelligence officer and Hill staffer is offering an interesting idea about the next director of national intelligence.
There shouldn't be a director of national intelligence, for starters.
“The men who tried to govern as directors [of national intelligence] were good people caught in a badly constructed position," said Ronald Marks, who held a number senior positions during a 16-year CIA career. He was also a senior budget director at the National Reconnaissance Office before retiring in 1999.
"The next DNI should be a CNI – a coordinator who is not superior to the other IC [intelligence community] leaders, but someone who can help them speak with one voice about given issues like threats to America and [how to] do their jobs better with higher-level, longer-range thinking and planning,” Marks said.
The “speaking with one voice” part may take awhile.
But back to the coordinating part.
“As coordinator – or perhaps coordinator of national intelligence – the DNI could continue a role at which it is getting quite good," Marks said.
“While not very sexy, there does need to be coordination over how the IC buys big technology. There does need to be some sense made [of] how you develop and hang on to thousands of IC personnel, especially the flood of young people who arrived since 9/11. There is a need for a sensible budgeting structure that looks beyond one year and tries to establish program and budget priorities. There is a need for someone who can study over-the-horizon problems that could affect American intelligence, like new, breakthrough technologies or new fields of battle like cyber space.”
Switching to a long-range coordinating role, moreover, recognizes the obvious, Marks said: “the DNI position itself … is no more than a titular head.”
Reportedly, the front-runner to succeed Adm. Dennis Blair as DNI is James Clapper, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
| May 24, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Categories: Backchannel chatter, Intelligence
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