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Post editorial: reining in intelligence community will require more than "business as usual"

In today's edition of The Post, an editorial discusses the growth of intelligence programs in light of director of national intelligence nominee James R. Clapper Jr.'s varying remarks about the Top Secret America series. Here's an excerpt:

To their credit Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta acknowledged in interviews with The Post that the spending binge since the Sept. 11 attacks is unsustainable and that programs need to be scrubbed. James R. Clapper Jr., President Obama's nominee for director of national intelligence (DNI), also seemed to recognize the problem. Writers Dana Priest and William M. Arkin quoted him as saying that "there's only one entity in the entire universe that has visibility on all [top secret programs] -- that's God."

Yet in his confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, Mr. Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who has headed two Pentagon intelligence agencies, sounded curiously complacent about the complex he is taking on. Dismissing the Post's detailed reporting as "sensationalism," he defended the bloat, saying "one man's duplication is another man's competitive analysis." He said that the article's description of a profligate expansion of private contractors "is in some ways a testimony to the ingenuity, innovation and capability of the contractor base."

» Read the full editorial

What do you think of Clapper's remarks in the Top Secret America series and before the Senate Intelligence Committee?

Do you think U.S. intelligence agencies—and the greater intelligence community—need to change? If so, what should be done?

By Jennifer Jenkins  |  July 22, 2010; 11:14 AM ET
 | Tags: Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, Senate Intelligence Committee, intelligence agencies, opinion  
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Next: Complex institutions: Too big to manage?


Not to be a pedant, but it has become common to write "reigning in" when what is meant is "reining in" as in slowing a horse.

But you really messed it up with "regining in." Don't you use spell check?

Posted by: DavidMerkel | July 22, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Remember Eisenhowers warning upon his leaving office? "Beware the Military Industrial complex" The man nominated to be the next US director of national intelligence has defended the role of private contractors in the intelligence community after a series of articles revealed the extent of involvement of the private sector in top secret programs.

Posted by: dbmetzger | July 22, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

There is no question that the community is too big to manage - that was true 20 years ago. All that is needed is across-the-board cuts. The remaining people will figure out how to do the job better. It won't happen though. The system is too far gone. Senior managers have _no idea_ what's going on or how things work. The penchant for bringing back people from retirement for senior positions is both a symptom and a cause of that. The people who should be brought back are the ones who quit in disgust, prior to retirement, after distinguished careers. They aren't hard to find.

Posted by: fakedude1 | July 22, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

The most annoying "business as usual" in the intelligence community has been "receiving information of a serious threat" and then "not preventing it happening".

The same thing we have at hand here.
James Clapper has predicted it on July 20th and now it became official: that North Korea promises a "physical response" to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend.

What can the DPRK Navy do against an aircraft carrier like the USS George Washington and how can we prevent it?

"George Washington arrived in Busan for a port visit on 21 July 2010 and will then participate in exercise Invincible Spirit in the East Sea with the USAF, Republic of Korea Air Force and Republic of Korea Navy from 25 to 28 July 2010."

Surely the megalomaniac dictator Kim Jong-il would like to sink that ship...
I hope the US Navy is prepared for anything. The North Korean launching site of satellites and atomic bombs is near the East Sea, as you can see on the map.

Another torpedo is more likely, but we cannot be sure. This is getting nasty.
What will be decided this time?

Posted by: novaloka | July 23, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

GREAT!You miss the point of this whole thing here...

No longer will some Fascist, wishing to take the natural resources from a country that poses no threat to us, have to fight with the CIA or others to get "Intelligence"that backs up their agenda.... like Cheney did.

They can just ask for a report that says what they want it to say, and not only have it, but also have the ability to present the lie from multiple sources!

These folks get more money from no bid contracts, Black Water and Halliburton post larger quarterly profits, and our children die.... The new American dream!

Posted by: CousinVinnyTattoo | July 23, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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