After September 11th, President Bush authorized the use of water boarding, as a way to gain knowledge of terrorist groups and their activities. The problem is that many of the civil rights-based groups believe that this is in violation of American law. When the people, who are interrogated (terrorists), are not American citizens and they want to do as much harm to the country as possible. Given the fact that these individuals, are more than likely hard core terrorists and posses knowledge about imminent terrorist activities, meant that the this technique would be utilized to obtain information. Even though this was successful and was used on limited number of people, the press and Congress continued to debate the issue. (Froomkin, 2010) This is troubling, because it undermines the activities of U.S. intelligence officials (who are trying to protect the nation). As they are inserted into a game of political chicken, because the different talking heads in the media and in Washington want to make a name for themselves. Once this occurs, it will cause many intelligence officials to not fully do their jobs. As they feel that the constant meddling is not helping the situation. Instead, it is only making their jobs harder, with them having fight a war on terrorism and public relations battle at the same time. While some of these criticisms are accurate (to certain extent), the reality is that they do not help to advance the national security interests of the country by having a public debate about recent events. This is problematic, because it can cause many intelligence officials to become hesitant in their activities. As they feel that they could become the scapegoats in a political witch hunt. At which point, you will begin to see a host of intelligence failures, with no one wanting to go the extra mile because Congress is micro managing intelligence operations.
What all of this shows, is that the culture inside Washington and the media is helping to increase the number of intelligence failures. This is because these events are a distraction (for officials) from achieving their intended objectives. At which point, many talented agents and counter terrorism officials will become frustrated with the political infighting. Once this occurs, it means that these agencies will lose key personnel (who are essential in helping them achieve their objectives). As a result, one could easily argue that the contentious atmosphere in politics and the media is helping to contribute the various failures of the U.S. intelligence community. This is because the constant oversight and accusations are creating a bureaucracy in the agencies that are failing to respond to the most imminent threats.
How Can New Reforms can be Implemented?
To reform the intelligence community, it is imperative that all strategies take into account the changing realities of the world. This means that everyone must be prepared, to adapt to new threats that could be emerging. Where, an intelligence agency must have a tremendous amount of flexibility and foresight. This is problematic for U.S. intelligence, because the existing bureaucratic structure of the government will ensure that certain procedures are in place for proper oversight. Evidence of this can be seen by looking at the overall levels of oversight inside a typical U.S. intelligence agency to include: The President's Foreign Intelligence Board, Intelligence Oversight Board, Office of Management & Budget, the National Security Council, the Senate Select Committees on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (Bruneau, 2007, pp. 25 -- 54) When you put these different elements together, this highlights that how the oversight of these agencies creates a sense of fragmentation and divisiveness. At which point, the various agencies will become inward looking, by keeping key intelligence and other information to itself. Over the course of time, this reduces the ability of many different agencies to be able to anticipate and respond to various threats that are occurring. At which point, it is possible for intelligence failures to occur, as everyone is focused on the overall nature of one threat in particular. While another threat, could be equally as dangerous and quickly approaching. Once this occurs, it means that various surprises could happen that are similar to what took place in the events leading to: the run up of the September 11th attacks or the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Johnson, 2006)
To address these challenges, one possible strategy could be to: reduce the oversight of these committees and the information that they are allowed to disclose to them. Where, certain committees would have the authority to review the activities of the various agencies. At the same time, Congress must look at closing the loopholes that many media sources will use to corroborate facts for news stories. As a host of news organizations will often rely on the use of anonymous sources, to uncover wrongdoing. This is problematic, because it is encouraging government employees to disclose classified information to the general public. Over the course of time, this creates an atmosphere of the media reporting stories based on rumors and half truths. If Congress prohibited the use of anonymous sources and required all news organizations to disclose them, this would help to prevent the severe amounts of leaked information. A good example of how perverse the situation has become can be seen with the case involving Specialist Bradley Manning. What happened was Manning provided the website Wiki Leaks, with 150 thousand secret cables between Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. To make matters worse, the only way that Manning was discovered was through a former computer hacker, who had numerous conversations with him online. Only after realizing what was taking place, this individual would turn Manning in. The reason why, is because he felt that Manning's actions could place the lives of American forces in jeopardy. (Grear, 2010) This is significant, because it shows how the use of anonymous sources has allowed many intelligence agencies to have moles working inside their organizations. When you look at the situation from a larger point-of-view, one could easily compare the actions of these anonymous sources with those of leaches that are slowly stealing classified documents from the government. If Congress can close down this loop hole, it could prevent the large disclosures of classified documents to anonymous sources. At which point, different embarrassments such as the Wiki Leaks disclosures would be something of the past.
How and Why is Intelligence Reform important to National Security?
The nation's ability to detect and prevent immanent threats is imperative to U.S. national security. As any kind of failure to spot potential threats could have severe economic and security implications. Where, the economy could be adversely affected to the point that it could cause economic activity to come to halt in some areas. At the same time, it could mean that U.S. interests around the world could be possibly threatened to the point that American lives are in jeopardy. Once this begins occur, it can mean that the ability of the nation to respond and understand the different threats is very limited. As military officials and bureaucrats are unsure about how to address these threats, while the general public is demanding that some kind of action must be taken.
Clearly, a number of different reforms are necessary for U.S. intelligence agencies. The most notable include: reducing the oversight of these agencies and preventing the media from using anonymous sources in news stories. These two issues are problematic, because they allow classified information to be released to the press. At which point, the activities of these agencies are brought into the public light. Once this takes place, many intelligence officials will have to conduct their normal operations and then participate in a political debate. This reduces their ability to anticipate and prevent various enemies, from striking American targets around the world. As they feel that the constant meddling of Congress in their operations and the various restrictions that they place on them are making their jobs more dangerous. Over the course of time, this will cause many intelligence agents to resign or retire. As they feel frustrated from knowing and wanting to help prevent tragedies from occurring. Yet, the constant interference reduces these efforts, which causes many to look at their careers as another job. At which point, any kind of intelligence that is collected is not shared or marked as urgent. Once this takes place, it means that a culture of sloppiness has become common because of the bureaucracy. At the same time, the constant disclosure of various classified documents to the press through anonymous sources is making the situation worse. As this is helping to cause many agencies, to feel a sense of helplessness, due the large amount of leaks and the public scrutiny they will face in the media. To rectify this situation, Congress needs to urgently address these issues. As a result,…