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An Evaluation of John Deutch

Guest Column
Presley H. Cannady

After reading Institute Professor John Deutch’s op-ed in The Washington Post [“The Smart Approach to Intelligence,” September 9], I’m convinced the only qualifications that a Democratic Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) nominee needs is fifteen minutes on the CIA’s web page. Of course, the CIA didn’t have a media rich web presence back in 1995 -- back during Professor Deutch’s tenure as DCI. So for years I’ve just assumed he’d read his Tom Clancy like the rest of us.

As we all know, the esteemed Institute Professor has long experience in Washington, D.C., both as a deputy secretary of defense and as the Director of Central Intelligence. We should also know that this is the man who thought it would be a great idea to keep classified material on government-issued computers that he apparently had no intentions of returning to the CIA. Also, this is the man who aided and abetted mobster and Senator Toricelli in launching a second round attack on the Directorate of Operations. Deutch blatantly demanded the DO’s case officers recruit and operate only “nice guy” agents.

Furthermore, the man permitted the politicization of intelligence analysis to fester (at least Woolsey tried to do something about it) and even encouraged its ultimate atrophy, thus ensuring the long term degradation of U.S. national intelligence products. In other words, not since Admiral Stansfield Turner -- Carter’s hatchet man and the CIA’s worst boogeyman since the Church and Pike hearings -- have we endured a DCI as royally incompetent and dangerous to U.S. national security as our recently vocal Institute professor.

If you need to catch up, I’ll spell out Professor John Deutch’s “pearls of wisdom” for you. He’s worried. He’s really concerned that the DCI’s role in finalizing the national intelligence product is under attack. In his view, Donald Rumsfeld’s call for a counter-terrorist intelligence secretariat headed by a new Department of Defense undersecretary undermines the DCI’s yet unjustified control over the whole intel community. Deutch is also incomprehensibly fixated on a purely imagined management problem he perceives as underlying the Rumsfeld proposal.

He dips into organization theory -- without any attempt at using science or citing data -- and suggests that Congress instead should elevate the Assistant Secretary for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD(C3I) for short) to an undersecretary rank. He describes no new tasks under the ASD(C3I)’s purview, nor does he prescribe any new responsibilities for his proposed undersecretary evolution. So we have to assume that he thinks the ASD(C3I) is like a mini-DCI for the Department of Defense. By the last paragraph the reader is at a lost trying to figure out Deutch’s point, although you are left with a clear impression -- if not the rationale behind it -- that he doesn’t like Rumsfeld’s idea. I think the most eloquent paraphrase of Deutch’s closing comments is “fighting terrorism is hard, we need to know things, blah blah, Rummie’s off his rocker.”

First, let’s start with the professor’s petty suggestion about promoting the ASD(C3I) to undersecretary rank. Let’s be brutally honest. The only thing he’s suggesting is for the ASD(C3I) to be promoted. That nonsense about having an assistant secretary of intelligence reporting to this new undersecretary doesn’t mean a damned thing if you have any clue what the ASD(C3I) does. According to Deutch, the C3I secretariat is responsible for “[integrating] intelligence activities ... with the command, control and communication of military forces.”

If you see past the wordplay (and if you’re enthusiastic about the Defense Department’s organizational structure), you’ll know that in reality the only thing that an ASD(C3I) does is specify and assist development of systems in the bubble of the procurement and delivery cycle and occasionally articulate doctrine from an ivory tower. Operators then can get to use these tools in the real world of combat -- hopefully they work. The ASD(C3I) is an intelligence customer (and Deutch’s proposal doesn’t change this role), which means he receives intelligence aimed at helping him fulfilling his mission -- building expensive intel cycle toys and training manuals which he then sells to back to the defense intelligence agencies (DIA) and the military operators.

As should be obvious to all by now, the only thing Professor Deutch proposes is upranking a glorified salesman and stock clerk to the rank of undersecretary. However, he never once mentions the problem Rumsfeld is trying to address. Why is the Defense Department no longer confident with the intelligence product they’re getting from the current community architecture?

Well, theoretically, it’s because the DCI is supposed to take care of that for them. In reality, as I said before, the DCI lets the defense agencies take care of themselves; consequently, there are no real controls in place to govern the collection, analytical and dissemination priorities of the NSA, the DIA and the service intel shops. Each one has essentially taken on an independent institutional character. Without any guidance from an emasculated CIA weakened by federal statute and ill-conceived executive rules, they evolved into budget-driven entities.

An undersecretary for intelligence in the Defense Department would not weaken the ability of the armed forces to exploit intelligence -- it’s hard to imagine that any organizational modifications in the current departmental scheme can possibly diminish the quality of the military intelligence product any further. The problems plaguing the intelligence community as a whole and the Defense Department’s shops in particular are wide-ranging and stem from a number of independent causes. A new undersecretary tasked with separating military intelligence related to the war on terrorism from the national brand would weaken the DCI’s hold on the community, but Deutch never indicates how this is necessarily bad.

When Truman first envisioned the CIA and its two-hatted Director, he was concerned about how intelligence was disseminated to the White House. Allen Dulles and his kind made the DCI’s office even stronger and often to America’s benefit, but at the expense of leaving the strengthened, central direction and of United States intelligence priorities and quality of work dangerously vulnerable to the aloofness of men like Stansfield Turner and John Deutch. Turner took a hatchet to the CIA, gave us national technical means at the expense of human intelligence, let the NSA and DIA run all over his deputy, and finally brought Khomeini and Operation EAGLE CLAW into the lengthening litany of Democrat-induced American nightmares.

Deutch further neutered the national intelligence business by essentially drafting and enforcing the Toricelli rules, a hand-binding exercise in micromanagement that the National Commission on Terrorism warned would leave us vulnerable to attacks. On the morning of September 11, 2001, we got a horrible glimpse at the legacy of intelligence centralization. For that reason alone, I’m more than willing to stump for Rumsfeld’s new undersecretary.

Presley H. Cannady is a member of the Class of 2003.