IRTPA and the 9-11 Commission Report Term Paper

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9/11 and the IRTPA

Under the National Security Act of 1947, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was charged with the task of coordinating all national intelligence activities within the U.S. government. One major reason for this change was the failure of coordination and analysis across the intelligence agencies in predicting the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Indeed, so glaring were the failures to 'connect the dots' in determining the intentions of the Japanese that they gave rise to at least as many conspiracy theories as the September 11 attacks, such as the idea that Franklin Roosevelt knew about the attack in advance and permitted it to happen so the U.S. would enter the Second World War. In practice, the coordination of intelligence activities never really occurred, and many similar failures occurred in the future, such as the CIA's inability to predict the outbreak of the Korean War or Chinese intervention there or its lack of knowledge about the extent of opposition to the Shah of Iran in the 1970s. After the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001, the 9/11 Commission described a range of failures in predicting the attacks as well as a fatal lack of cooperation and coordination between the FBI, CIA and other intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. In creating a Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 was supposed to correct these deficiencies, although its success has been limited at best. Despite some useful innovations in technology and information sharing, the DNI has largely failed for the same reasons as the DCI in 1947-2004. Older and well-established organizations like the FBI, CIA, NSA and other military intelligence agencies had no intention of really giving up their power to the new institutions created in the wake of September 11th.

Senators Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman wrote the IRTPA in response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and later intelligence failures concerning the nonexistence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq, which was the Bush administration's main pretext for going to war there in 2003. These new reforms were implemented gradually while two hot wars were still ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with "a multi-menu of threats from elsewhere" (Senate Select Committee, 2007, p.2). Many members of have Congress criticized the DNI for failing to "aggressively assert the authorities they have been provided" or simply succumbed to bureaucratic resistance (Best and Cumming, p. 1). Admiral Dennis Blair survived as DNI only from 2009-10 then resigned unexpectedly, mainly because of conflict with CIA Director Leon Panetta, who will soon become Secretary of Defense. Panetta played the bureaucratic and political game better the Blair, who had been "unable to exercise his authorities to meet his responsibilities" and had perhaps received insufficient support from the White House (Best and Cumming, p. 1). Blair's predecessor Michael McConnell had similar difficulties, even though Congress granted him new powers in 2008.

At the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January 2007, many members were openly critical of the DNI for failing to have much impact at the agency or field levels. It was not supposed to be yet another intelligence bureaucracy but a coordinator, which is why its staff of 1,200 was small by federal government standards. For example, the CIA still controlled the new National Clandestine Service and the management of human intelligence (HUMINT), and these were serving "the parochial interests of one agency" (Senate Select Committee, p. 4). It did not have adequate intelligence about the survivability of the Maliki government in Iraq or the Karzai government in Afghanistan, while hundreds of CIA operatives in those countries did not even speak the local languages. Nor did the Senate staff have the right to see the national intelligence budget, but it knew that many plans and strategies presented on paper had never been implemented in reality. None of the intelligence agencies were even preparing auditable financial statements, even though they had been required to do so since 1990. All of this reminded the Senate of numerous failures of intelligence and congressional oversight going back to the 1940s and 1950s, in Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq and the September 11th attacks.

From the DNI viewpoint, these charges were unfair, since it had made some progress in reforms during the three years of its existence, such as coordination with the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI's National Security Branch. It had developed a new National Intelligence Strategy, new plans for human capital and information technology, rapid response capacities and an electronic directory service. Moreover, the DNI had "a very, very positive relationship with the Office of the Secretary of Defense" and Joint Intelligence Operations Centers overseas (Senate Select Committee, p. 14). The DNI handled the budgets for akll sixteen intelligence agencies, in consultation with their directors, then sent them to the Office of Management and Budget. When Congress approved these, the DNI allocated the funds, although it plays only an advisory role with the Military Intelligence Budget (MIB). These military agencies dealt mainly with tactical and battlefield intelligence which the DNI could not provide, while the Defense Department did not even have auditable financial statements (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 29). It had even formulated new plans for dealing with influenza outbreaks and other pandemics at all classification levels. Every week, the heads of the largest IC agencies met at the DNI and all sixteen met every eight weeks to coordinate policies and strategies, "exchange information, knowledge and requirements with their counterparts throughout the entire community" (Senate Select Committee, p. 18). Analysts no longer worked according to the old model in which a single person "with the best rolodex and fastest finger could sort of guide collection" but in teams from different agencies who sent three or four tasks to the collectors (Senate Select Committee, p. 22).

Thanks to the IRTPA, the intelligence community had developed a new National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) for the first time in 2006, which had five mission and ten enterprise objectives. It had "achieved good results through a concerted effort to integrate itself more tightly, share information more freely, coordinate its actions more efficiently, define its priorities more clearly" (Progress on Intelligence Reform, 2007, p. 2). In addition, the DNI had improved joint training and tradecraft standards across agency lines, and created new North Korea and Iran Mission Managers who were "promoting community-wide integration and providing policymakers with briefings drawing on community-wide expertise" (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 4). National intelligence priorities are updated twice a year by the National Security Council, which the DNI implements, and it has also taken control of liaison relationships with foreign intelligence agencies through the Foreign Relations Coordination Council. It established a Long-Range Analysis Unit and has the ability to shift resources to meet "emerging crises" in places like Darfur and Somalia (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 5). With the Rapid Technology Transition Initiative, the DNI has made far more use of modern information technology, along with a virtual phonebook for terrorism information and more intelligence sharing with foreign services. This transition has been difficult because "each agency and department runs legacy systems that were planned and in many cases deployed before the Internet age," and had not been upgraded in many years before September 11th (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 7). DNI's Chief Information Officer envisioned a common technological architecture or all intelligence agencies, and was working with the Defense Department "to move information between networks operating at different security classifications" (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 7).

All intelligence agencies were overloaded with requirements in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia and many other areas, and lacked sufficient numbers of qualified analysts and collectors. Although the DNI had the authority to reprogram up to $150 million in the IC budget to meet emergency situations, it had never used this fully. It already had "very good compliance" with all agencies when it issued requirements with the allocation of funds (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 22). They did not yet have the global reach necessary to meet all problems and contingencies and needed to bring in more outside experts to deal with Somalia, Darfur and other problem areas. They still devoted considerable resources to analyzing the prospects of the Maliki government in Iraq, which still had great difficulties in achieving stability and security. DNI believed that these would worsen once American troops were withdrawn, but also that "Maliki does not wish to fail in this role. He does not wish to preside over the disintegration of Iraq" (Progress on Intelligence Reform, p. 25). Iraq proved the necessity for greater collaboration between analysts and collectors, who were often in real danger out in the field, and the DNI wished to extend this type of collaboration to other areas such as Iran and North Korea. Furthermore, the DNI maintained that premature withdrawal from Iraq would "cause chaos, increased killing of Iraqis, safe havens for al-Qaeda, and possible conflicts among countries as well as sects in…

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