The 9/11 Commission Report dominates the agenda these days on Capitol Hill and the airwaves in the public debate over the restructuring of the intelligence community (IC). Commission members are now busily arguing for a new National Intelligence Director (NID) coupled with new intelligence fusion centers--for counter-terrorism and proliferation-- which they argue go a long way to fix what ails American intelligence.
Aside from the media splash, it is hard to discern how the commission's recommendations would cut to the heart of our intelligence problems, and not just those associated with the 9/11 tragedy. The portfolio of responsibilities for the proposed NID are little more than a rehash of the responsibilities currently exercised by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). And new intelligence centers are not needed because they already exist in the bowels of the CIA. The IC needs wider and deeper horizontal sharing and webbing of intelligence, with a special emphasis on getting the FBI to contribute to the information pool, as befitting the information-technology age--not the creation of a ponderous new layer of bureaucracy reminiscent of the Cold War.
The 9/11 Commission recommends structural, or "hardware", additions when better management and business practices, or "software", in core intelligence functions inside the existing IC--especially at the CIA--are most needed. Although it has been eclipsed by media attention on the commission report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on intelligence failings in the run up to the Iraq War is in many respects a more perceptive, penetrating and diagnostic study of the CIA's faults.