Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Confidential to Bill

Here is the full text of the 9/11 Commission's recommendation on moving covert actions to the Defense Department, including motivations for said recommendation:

Recommendation: Lead responsibility for directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense Department. There it should be consolidated with the capabilities for training, direction, and execution of such operations already being developed in the Special Operations Command.

  • Before 9/11, the CIA did not invest in developing a robust capability to conduct paramilitary operations with U.S. personnel. It relied on proxies instead, organized by CIA operatives without the requisite military training. The results were unsatisfactory.

  • Whether the price is measured in either money or people, the United States cannot afford to build two separate capabilities for carrying out secret military operations, secretly operating standoff missiles, and secretly training foreign military or paramilitary forces. The United States should concentrate responsibility and necessary legal authorities in one entity.

  • The post-9/11 Afghanistan precedent of using joint CIA-military teams for covert and clandestine operations was a good one. We believe this proposal to be consistent with it. Each agency would concentrate on its comparative advantages in building capabilities for joint missions. The operation itself would be planned in common.

  • The CIA has a reputation for agility in operations. The military has a reputation for being methodical and cumbersome. We do not know if these stereotypes match current reality; they may also be one more symptom of the civil-military misunderstanding we described in chapter 4. It is a problem to be resolved in policy guidance and agency management, not in the creation of redundant, overlapping capabilities and authorities in such sensitive work. The CIA's experts should be integrated into the military's training, exercises, and planning. To quote a CIA official now serving in the field: "One fight, one team."

  • So what Safire terms "radical" is really a move towards consolidation, eliminating redundancy, improving training, and generally removing the turf mentality of the current intelligence setup. I have plenty of problems with the Defense Department, especially under Rumsfeld - as the Commission states earlier in their report, the Defense Department has become an empire, with a budget larger than the GDP of Russia. They have their own in-house "state department" and intelligence gathering operations which help to keep them insular, bloated and generally uncooperative with other governmental agencies, but I don't think that transferring covert operations to the Defense Department will worsen this problem. Taken together with the other Commission recommendations, the Pentagon will go back to being what it is supposed to be: one cog among several working together, with new central oversight and less redundancy. "One team, one fight."

    All of the Commission's reasons for this move seem irrefutable to me.

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