Intelligence Reform Following the Terrorist Essay

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Instead, by transferring budgetary control to the Director of National Intelligence, IRTPA forced the various intelligence agencies to unite under a single, coherent leadership, if only to ensure the continued flow of funds towards their respective projects. As with any government endeavor, the inertia of the Intelligence Community is maintained only so long as ample funds are continually available, so by tethering intelligence agencies' funding to inter-agency cooperation coordination, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act ensured that in the years following its passage, the Intelligence Community would be forced to work more closely, if only to ensure its own survival.

Project Parameters and Methodology

However, the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act does not represent the end of intelligence reform following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, but rather the beginning, and thus any consideration of the relative success or failure of intelligence reform must examine the years following IRTPA's passage, and the ways in which subsequent Director's of National Intelligence have interpreted their mandate. Subsequent interpretations of this mandate are especially important considering the fact that "the Act is almost 250 pages long -- a clue to how unlikely it is to have been a considered enactment, given the haste of its passage through Congress."

The boundaries of this investigation into the success or failure of intelligence reform, then, will encompass not only the structural and legal changes instituted through the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, but also the way in which the Intelligence Community and outside observers have responded to those changes.

For example, this means that things like the Director of National Intelligence's Intelligence Reform Progress Report will be extremely useful, because they allow one to understand how the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has interpreted its mandate and the metrics by which it is judging its own success or failure. Therefore, information like then-Director of the Central Intelligence Agency General Michael Hayden's testimony as part of the DNI's Intelligence Reform Progress Report in 2007 becomes especially important, because when he talked about "our blueprint for making our Agency more collaborative, both within the fence line at Langley and within the broader intelligence community," he was describing the individual way in which distinct agencies have sought to fulfill their newfound duties under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.

In addition, academic commentary on intelligence reform from figures such as General Hayden or Lieutenant General James Clapper, both of whom have served as Director of National Intelligence, is well within the scope of this project, because it provides a means of assessing how these leaders interpret the ideal goals and functions of the Intelligence Community independent of the brief remarks and press statements provided while commenting in an official capacity.

In addition, testimony from important members of Congress will be crucial in determining the success or failure of intelligence reform, because these members are able to provide heretofore unexpressed perspectives on the functioning of the Intelligence Community, especially in relation to the dissemination and coordination of information.

Finally, the Government Accountability Office, which is the division of the United States Congress responsible for auditing and evaluation, has an important role to play when considering the success of intelligence reform, and thus its perspective must be taken into account.

However, as evidenced by the isolation and competition which characterized the Intelligence Community during the 1990s, it is important to seek out independent voices when evaluating the success of intelligence reform, because one cannot assume that government agencies and their employees truly have the best perspective and metrics for determining their own success or failure, especially when those agencies or employees have a vested interest in appearing successful regardless of the reality on the ground. This is why independent analyses of intelligence reform will play a crucial part in this project, in addition to the primary source information provided by official testimony and government organizations. The importance of these outside voices becomes especially apparent when one considers that, at least from a preliminary examination, the general external consensus regarding intelligence reform following the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act is that reform efforts have largely failed to achieve the kind of oversight and cooperation necessary, despite claims from within the Intelligence Community that these reforms "have been a success -- a success for CIA, for our Community, and the American people."

These perceived failures of reform stem from a number of issues, including "a mismatch between power and duty" on the part of the Director of National Intelligence as well as the entrenched nature of the Intelligence Community itself, which ensures that many of the same actors remain in positions of power despite reforms, which many times tend to merely reshuffle the same deck.

Including both official and independent accounts of intelligence reform and its success or failure will serve to ensure that the project relies on as few assumptions as possible, and does not take anything for granted, whether it be the accuracy of the Intelligence communities self-reporting or the possible biases of outside observers. Furthermore, by attempting to include primary and secondary sources from across the entire discourse surrounding intelligence reform, this project will able to distinguish between genuine intelligence successes as a result of intelligence reform and those advances which occur as a result of other, unrelated factors (for example, differentiating between a lack of successful terrorist attacks as a result of cooperation within the Intelligence Community and a lack of successful terrorist attacks due to incompetence or insufficient support on the side of belligerents, as in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, whose efforts to detonate a bomb while on board a flight to Detroit went undetected by American intelligence agencies and were only stymied by his inability so successfully activate the device).

Annotated Bibliography

Barger, D.G. (2004). It is time to transform, not reform, U.S. Intelligence. SAIS Review,



Barger's essay is important because it provides an alternate approach to intelligence reform not seen in the majority of texts on the subject. Barger argues that intelligence reform efforts are inherently doomed to fail because they are focused on reformation rather than transformation. Barger argues that reform efforts have only succeeded in multiplying bureaucracy while hindering serious change, because any reform effort that does not seek to fundamentally re-imagine the structure of the Intelligence Community will ultimately become bogged down in the preexisting system, which has had decades to entrench itself both politically and legally. While Barger's criticism of intelligence reform is somewhat more extreme than many others included here, it is an important addition to this project because it helps to reiterate in explicit detail the structural, social, and political difficulties facing any reform attempt.

Blechman, B.M. (2005). Lessons in intelligence reform. Georgetown Journal of International

Affairs, 6(1), 139-145.

Blechman's essay traces the history of the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, which among other things established the Special Operations Command in the wake of the failed Operation Eagle Claw. Blechman examines the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in order to describe how intelligence reform comes about and the various competing interests which serve to shape the final outcome. Though not directly related to the intelligence reform of the last decade, Blechman's essay is helpful because it provides some important historical context for considering the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

Chambliss, S. (2005). We have not correctly framed the debate on intelligence reform.

Parameters, 35(1), 5-13.

In this essay, Senator Saxby Chambliss offers his critique of the intelligence failures which led up to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, as well as the faulty information which underlined the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Chambliss' input is especially relevant due to his time on the United States House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which provided the first major account of the intelligence failures that led to the September 11th attacks.

Fessenden, H. (2005). The limits of intelligence reform. Foreign Affairs, 84(6), 106-106.

Fessenden's essay is helpful for understanding the simultaneous speed and sloth with which intelligence reform efforts took place following September 11th. Fessenden highlights the fact that "within a year and a half [of 9/11], the United States fought one war and prepared for another, and Congress passed two sweeping bills, the U.S.A. Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, to address the war on terrorism's domestic front," but it took nearly four years for any kind of substantial intelligence reform to come about in the form of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.

Hayden, M. (2010). The state of the craft: Is intelligence reform working?. World Affairs,

September/October, Retrieved from

Hayden's account of intelligence reform…[continue]

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