Intelligence czar?

Read in the newspaper today that the Bush Administration is floating the idea of creating a new office of “Director of National Intelligence” to supervise, in one office, the activities (and budgets) of the federal government’s 15 existing intelligence agencies. (Apparently in response to the 9/11 Commission’s findings that inadequate interagency communication allowed the attacks to happen.) Is this a good idea?

And . . . what ARE these 15 intelligence agencies? The only ones I know about are the CIA, DIA, NSA and (arguably) FBI.

That’s another thing – there’s a proposal to hive off part of the FBI and create a new domestic-intelligence agency modeled on Britain’s MI5. Good idea?

Here is the ul

[li]Air Force Intelligence[/li][li]Army Intelligence[/li][li]Central Intelligence Agency[/li][li]Coast Guard Intelligence[/li][li]Defense Intelligence Agency[/li][li]Department of Energy[/li][li]Department of Homeland Security[/li][li]Department of State[/li][li]Department of Treasury[/li][li]Federal Bureau of Investigation[/li][li]Marine Corps Intelligence[/li][li]National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency[/li][li]National Reconnaissance Office[/li][li]National Security Agency[/li][li]Navy Intelligence[/li][/ul]

Isn’t that what the Office of Homeland Security was created for ?

The Department of Energy is an intelligence service?

The are sub-agencies that deal with intelligence. Click on the Dept of Energy link here and you get this:

But this proposal raises obvious administrative/political problems. The Department of Homeland Security was formed by hiving off various existing agencies under various departments, and placing them all under the control of the new Secretary of HS. But they’re not talking about making the Director of National Security this kind of Cabinet-level post (are they?). So, for instance, the intelligence-gathering functions and offices of the Department of Energy, which are only part of the department’s brief, would remain under the ultimate control of the Secretary of Energy (wouldn’t they?), and with respect to those offices, the DNS would have a merely supervisory role of uncertain scope and authority (wouldn’t he?). Which sets the stage for even more of the tiresome bureaucratic turf-battles the new position supposedly is intended to end. Am I missing something?

I think the director of the CIA has some authority over the various intelligence agencies, but that the authority is mainly cosmetic. The director doesn’t even control the bugeting of these “remote” agencies. I am not familiar with the proposals being batted about, but I suspect they would have to give any new intelligence czar more teeth - otherwise, why bother. I think this would include buget and resource planning as well as the ability to set priorities. But there would still be opportunity for a bureaucratic mess.