Yeah, yeah.. we all like to poke fun (or not fun) about government intelligence being an oxymoron in most verbal applications but were you aware of just how many active intelligence agencies we have lurking about the U.S.A.? (No fair counting the seals above). I guess if you already know that then you must have superior intelligence which makes me then wonder why you are on my blog reading this when you should be on your way to Trump Tower for your appointment.
I guess in one way when you look at all those seals you can easily understand how we got things so wrong about Iraq; left hand/right hand thing for sure. But notice how I just used the phrase “..how WE got things so wrong..” not “they”. You know, running a country is a team effort. It’s not just those guys in Congress, the Court judges, or the President. Of course those entities provide direction but it’s up to us regular folks to put the “right” people inside those entities to rule according to our rule. That all sounds nice on paper (or Constitutional parchment) but in practice not all Americans agree on how things should be done.. and strangely enough, we all have varying degrees of intelligence… assuming having any measure of intelligence at all matters in the spirit of being an American.
So we have these 17 agencies.. actually 16 and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that kinda is there to coordinate, but not to manage. Can all these agencies do anything they damn well want? Not legally and certainly not with impunity given various oversight. Can they drift off operating parameters? Of course. That’s why oversight is so necessary. The following is from https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/int018.html
“U.S. intelligence agencies are bound, and consider themselves bound, by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including treaty obligations and other international agreements entered into by the United States. They also are bound by Presidential orders, guidelines issued by the Attorney General, and numerous internal directives. Employees who violate those laws and policies can be held criminally liable or subjected to administrative sanctions, like any other government employee.”
Generally speaking, Congressional oversight works well and is consistent and knowledgeable. But in recent years there has been a growing concern among the intelligence community that some oversight has been burdensome in conducting certain operations. While this doesn’t necessarily mean an agency wants to go rogue in its operations with conspiratorial agendas and violate our personal freedoms, it does suggest that oversight control does have its own limitations in efficient intelligence operations.
Executive Oversight –
- President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB)
- Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
- National Security Council (NSC)
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
- DoD Intelligence Oversight Program (IOP)
Legislative Oversight –
- United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI)
- United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)
Then you have judicial oversight –
- United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)
So, there are 17 intel agencies and 8 sections of government providing oversight. But just because an agency has oversight does not mean there can’t be individual or collective agency errors in intelligence analysis.. that can lead public policy and international diplomacy in the wrong direction… hence, Iraq as one illustration.
We also have to keep in mind that use of intelligence is only as good as the person using it to make policy. Intelligence is by nature, advisory in capacity. The President still decides what, when, and how to use intelligence information… and to what degree. The President also regulates any political spin on the interpretation of intelligence given to him, and how that’s made public.
My whole point here is while it’s easy for Trump, or anyone else for that matter, to engage in a public roast of the intelligence services when it doesn’t conveniently serve their own political agenda, there’s a lot to consider given it’s not just about “Clapper and his agencies”. There’s a lot of people involved in the process.
In case you Trumpeters out there have forgotten…
…these people have died in the line of intelligence duty just within the CIA alone.. and while there were no flag-draped caskets arriving in Dover for the cameras they deserve no less memorial and remembrance for serving silently and unknown, just to keep the President advised. Trump has no right to breath the same air when he’s criticized an agency that has taken part in supporting the system that has made him rich and a President-elect… nor do the likes of Snowden or Assange. These guys have little intelligence. But like my grandmother always said.. too smart for their britches.