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August 03, 2004
Nasty Before Nice

In the "Boggles. The. Mind. Category, we see CNN's bland coverage of Bush's announcement that he's asking Congress to create the position of a national intelligence director to serve as his principal intelligence adviser. In paragraph four we discover that Congress is in recess, meaning Bush stands in no danger of having his request granted any time soon.

In paragraph five the story finally mentions the 9/11 Commission, but there's no mention of their spefic suggestions, so if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't know Bush originally resisted the idea of the new, cabinet-level position being located in the White House.*

In paragraph 17, there's a one-sentence reference to Bush's plans "blending" his own ideas (!!) with suggestions from the Commission, but that's as close as the article gets to saying the 9/11 Commission came up with ideas of its own and that Bush is under pressure to adopt them.

*Why did he resist it? Well, he gave us the answer to that himself. What he was actually resisting was making a cabinet-level position out of it. He wants to "hire and fire" the person himself, with no requirement for Congressional approval. Personally, I think such a position is far too important for the hiring to be at the whim of someone who produced, upon request, an accurate estimate for the cost of invading Iraq, but that's just me. Democracy is supposed to liberate us from the 'caprices of kings' after all.

Moving on, what's behind the "order" to destroy public documents? Sure, sometimes the order goes out because a government pamphlet is found to be factually in error or something, and I'm willing to accept that, "destroy all copies by any means to prevent disclosure of their content" is probably just government-speak and not as scary as it sounds, but the revelation that the content of most of these pamphlets is already freely available means this is merely a waste of time. (Also? I'm not a lawyer, so the discovery that inadvertent exposure of a "legal strategy" is a cause for panic was interesting to me.)

"The directive concluded that "the Department of Justice has determined that these materials are for internal use only"" makes it sound like there are Sekrit Prosecution Techniques they don't want the general public to know about, which isn't necessarily a red flag for misdoing.

Next up: We all agree (well, terrorists probably don't) that chasing down terrorists is all very well (or, if you're the linguistically challenged Bush Administration, "terror"*), but you can go too far in suspecting treachery everywhere.

President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yes, I'm thinking racism. I mean, what are the odds? Pretty good, considering the photographer's name is "Mamta Popat" don't you think?

I mean, unless every single person attending the function had to provide a racial profile on themselves, this is an outrageous request.

The newspaper was given this excuse:

[...] Popat's race was necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.

Yeah, because there's a huge population of Popats in Arizona, donchaknow. And the story doesn't say so, but surely we can assume the Secret Service asked for racial data on every John Smith, Edgar Jones, and Sally Blonde on the press list as well

(* It's not out of the question that the moment I fell in love with Edwards was the moment he referred to "fighting terrorism." I do admire someone who can speak their native language, don't you?)

Wow. Has it been 69 years already?

Time does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it? Yesterday was, Happy Getting Your Independence Back Day for India. Reading the Guardian's coverage of the story, I'm simultaneously appalled and enthralled. The "Raj" has long fascinated me.

Also? I'm laughing, okay? I'm laughing at the desperate Republican spin about how Bush and Kerry are "tied" in the polls and about how Bush is on the upswing.

In this country, only two kinds of candidates ever talk seriously about abolishing the IRS.

#1 - Right wingnuts.

#2 - Desperate candidates.

I think we got a twofer this time.

(Except that the source is Drudge, so it's hard to believe it's true unless it is, as Atrios suggests, a trial balloon.)

Moving on, I don't usually link to David Neiwert because I assume sensible people are already reading his blog, but this entry is important. He's one of the few people I've found who keeps on talking about the Bush Administration's blind spot when it comes to "domestic" terrorism.

And, to end the post on a high note, you really need to see the painting Professor Kim is showing us. It has an astonishing power, even as an on-line 'thumbnail.' If I were in New Jersey, I'd go see this show. (More here.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:47 AM


The linked article on the destruction of documents also mentions money laundering. I'm wondering if some of the materials are showing up given the renewed emphasis on combatting money laundering.

The irony is that the attention will caus more people to check the material out and probably lead to bootleg versions on the internet.

In paragraph 17, there's a one-sentence reference to Bush's plans "blending" his own ideas (!!) with suggestions from the Commission, but that's as close as the article gets to saying the 9/11 Commission came up with ideas of its own and that Bush is under pressure to adopt them.

Anne- most of the commissions "reforms" are not new. Just looking back at the last two Presidents:

Clinton: PDD-35

This Directive established the Intelligence Priorities Interagency Working Group [IWG] as the forum for identifying foreign policy issues that are of sufficiently critical nature as to require amplified attention from the intelligence community. In addition, agencies represented in this interagency working group have established intelligence requirements groups to collect, analyze and rank strategic intelligence requirements and to represent these agency-level requirements at periodic meetings with the intelligence community to set intelligence requirements.

The FY1997 intelligence budget request was guided by explicit intelligence priorities that the President established in PDD-35. This includes realigned funds within national and tactical intelligence to better cover the top PDD-35 priorities, such as support to military operations and counter-proliferation.

Press Conference on PDD-35

Q Mike, can we construe from the President's directive that he's not happy with the quality or nature of the intelligence he's getting?

Mr. Mccurry: No, you can construe from the directive and from the review that proceeded it that a lot of new thinking has to go in, in shaping America's priorities in the new world we live in. It reflects, in some ways, the very hopeful nature of the post- Cold War era. There are certain types of threats that are now reduced, specifically the nuclear threat; we don't have Russian strategic intercontinental missiles aimed at the United States anymore. So we have a range of security threats that are different in this world.

Quite frankly, proliferation remains a concern.
Terrorism remains a concern, International crime remains a concern.
And how you structure the priorities of the intelligence community to reflect the new threats that are more urgent in the post-Cold War world is part of what this review and this directive are all about.


Presidential Announcement on Intelligence Community Reforms

Today the President is announcing several significant reforms for the Intelligence Community that will strengthen our intelligence
capabilities as we move into the 21st Century. They build on the recommendations made in the Brown Commission Report on the Roles and capabilities of the Intelligence Community and the Director of Central
Intelligence's efforts to move the Intelligence Community forward to meet new challenges.

The reforms fall into three general categories: tightening links
with the policy community, increasing Intelligence Community integration
and realigning intelligence resources. The President sees intelligence as a critical element of our national security and believes these reforms are crucial to strengthening our capabilities in the future.

The President has authorized the following significant steps:

o First, reflecting the President's determination to promote openness in the Intelligence Community, he has authorized
Congress to make public the total appropriation -- the bottom line figure -- for intelligence at the time the appropriations conference report is approved by Congress.On the Policy Front

o The President has authorized the formation of a cabinet-level Committee on Foreign Intelligence to establish priorities on long-term intelligence needs. In the same vein, he is also establishing a Committee on Global Crime, chaired by the National Security Advisor, to better facilitate cooperation between the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

To Increase IC Integration

o The President has endorsed the addition of two Presidentially appointed Deputy Director positions, one to run CIA and one to oversee the Community Management Staff. This would be in addition to the current position of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. These two new positions would require Senate confirmation.

Realigning Resources

o The President has also endorsed the DCI's proposed personnel reforms that will allow the Intelligence Community to realign
its resources to achieve the "skills mix" necessary to address future intelligence challenges, while meeting its downsizing

2001: President Clinton signed a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) entitled "U.S. Counterintelligence Effectiveness Counterintelligence for the 21st Century." The PDD outlines specific steps that will enable the U.S. counterintelligence (CI) community to better fulfill its mission of identifying, understanding, prioritizing and counteracting the intelligence threats faced by the United States. The system will be predictive, proactive and will provide integrated oversight of counterintelligence issues across the national security agencies. Specifically, the PDD directs the following structure be established to continue the task of improving U.S. counterintelligence effectiveness:

Counterintelligence Board of Directors

A National Counterintelligence Board of Directors, chaired by the Director, FBI and composed of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and a senior representative of the Department of Justice is hereby established.

The Board, chaired by the Director of the FBI, will operate by consensus, and will select, oversee and evaluate the National Counterintelligence Executive (CI Executive) and will promulgate the mission, role and responsibilities of the CI Executive.

The Board will approve the National Counterintelligence Strategy drawn from the annual National Threat Identification and Prioritization Assessment, ensuring the integration of government and private sector interests.

The Board working with Congress, OMB, and other Executive Branch agencies will ensure the CI Executive has adequate resources to carry out his/her responsibilities and duties.

I truncated a lot - but it's open source


On May 9, 2001 President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 5 which calls for a comprehensive review of U.S. intelligence.

The review is intended to "ensure that U.S. intelligence capabilities are honed to serve us on a wide range of critical challenges that face us now and in the future."

The review is to be conducted by two panels named by DCI George Tenet. One panel will be comprised of selected governmental officials. The second panel, to be named by Tenet in conjunction with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, will be composed of nongovernmental experts.

The review has "a broad mandate to challenge the status quo and explore new and innovative techniques, systems, practices and processes" for foreign intelligence, according to a White House press statement.

The panels were to report to the President in summer 2001.

The "reforms" GWB mentions were part of these panel's recommendation - but were not acted on before 9/11.

The points?

Yes, Bush (and Clinton) both directed and pursued intelligence reforms

Many of the recommendations mirror to varying degrees the 9/11 commission

Notice how Clinton both put new positions under his control (ie. through the NSA who is an "advisor" and not a cabinet (and thus senate confirmed) appointee) and new positions requiring Senate confirmations - although a President can fire people even if confirmed..

I also noted the intelligence "drawdown" (downsizing goals) in the Clinton PDD..

Finally, why are both GWB and Kerry both quick to assume ALL the 9/11 recommendations are correct? It's probably a third rail to disagree right now, but there are some reasons why the CIA and FBI and NSA intelligence sometimes is not shared..Yes, the bad reasons are turf battles and importance over who has the information, but do we want agencies that do not have permission to gather intelligence on US citizens without legal approvals to have that access now?

A little defensive about the polls...I think you doth protest too much - afraid that convention bounce was off of concrete?

Posted by: Col Steve at August 3, 2004 11:01 AM

Col Steve - Your comments are always informative. :)

However, I'd like to point out that I never said the Bush Administration hadn't investigated reform previously and I certainly never said anything about what Clinton or any other previous president did or did not do about reform.

Second, the Bush Administration was widely reported as having a "lukewarm" reaction to the 9/11 Commission's report until the Commission members themselves (and the Kerry campaign) started hitting the publicity so hard. Suddenly the Bush (re-election committee) was all over "intelligence reform.")

I wasn't talking so much about what should or should not be done in the way of reform as I was dissing the Bush Administration for (in my view) once again jumping on the publicity bandwagon purely because it was made into an election-year issue.

Posted by: Anne at August 9, 2004 11:09 AM