BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. If Walter Pincus is correct that Defense Secretary-designee Bob Gates will scale back Donald Rumsfeld's expansion of the Pentagon's role in intelligence, we should let out a resounding cheer. Rumsfeld pushed the Pentagon way, way out into the blue yonder of intelligence work -- both with the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, designed to obstruct CIA analysis on Iraq and al-Qaeda, and in the field of human intelligence collection.
The PCEG's failures speak for themselves. The HUMINT stuff is more obscure and wonky, but it has real consequences. DOD intelligence is about tactical matters, not strategic ones -- for instance, learning what bridge to blow up in the field, rather than running spies or informants for years. But the Defense Intelligence Agency has been pushing its resources into duplicating what the CIA already does, and has done for half a century. And consider that if DIA, say, turns a colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the CIA is already looking to recruit from that same pool -- and so CIA's asset inside the Iranian military might unknowingly get fed information from DIA's asset. Experience teaches us that no one will tell anyone who doesn't absolutely need to know who their inside agents are, so this is exactly the sort of duplicative effort that produces unforced intelligence errors. Thanks, Don!
So hopefully Pincus is right. On the other hand, Gates has always been a CIA man, and his opposition to DOD expansions into intelligence might be a vestige of the Pentagon always goring his ox. Will he change his attitude now that he's going to be in a position to do the goring? Let's hope that he gets asked that question during his confirmation hearing.
hear hear. steve aftergood & CRS are trying to get new demarcation lines established.