Small Wars Journal

On the Next DNI

Obama Seeks to Reshape Intel Operations with Choice of Clapper - David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion.

President Obama fired Adm. Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence last month because of frustration with the lack of coordination among spy agencies and a fear that the former Navy four-star was too prone to give personal opinions rather than hard information. Blair also lost points with the president and his advisers when he let his critique of the CIA become too apparent during high-level meetings. Like many military officers, Blair believed that the agency lacked the training and background for some of its missions and that its officers had a covert "can-do" philosophy that often led them to act before thinking.

The decision to sack Blair, which had been brewing for months, opens the way for the Obama administration to reshape the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, an ill-defined position that hasn't worked well in the five years since it was created. White House officials say Obama wants a manager and coordinator as his DNI, rather than an intelligence czar who will try to steer the 16 individual intelligence agencies that report to him. White House officials use words such as "orchestration," "collaboration," "integration" and "synchronization" when they talk about what Obama is seeking...

More at The Washington Post.

James Clapper: Another Military Man for a Civilian Post - Bruce Ackerman, Washington Post opinion.

President Obama's nomination of retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper as director of national intelligence continues a tendency of appointing military men to positions that generally should be reserved for civilians. Obama is already relying on retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones - who served as commandant of the Corps - as his national security adviser. If Clapper is confirmed, Obama will get his daily intelligence briefing from a retired military man, then turn to another former officer to hear about his national security options.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush displayed sounder judgment. Both relied on civilian national security advisers throughout their terms. When Congress created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence five years ago as part of post-Sept.11 intelligence reforms, Bush chose John Negroponte for the job. But this distinguished diplomat was succeeded by two retired admirals. By appointing yet another retired military officer - currently the undersecretary of defense for intelligence - Obama is placing a decisively military mark on the new office...

More at The Washington Post.


Uboat509 (not verified)

Wed, 06/09/2010 - 7:19am

Interesting reads. I tend to agree in principle with Ignatius' article. I can see Blair's point about the CIA having the "can-do" attitude and acting before thinking at times but that should be the CIA director's job to fix not the DNI. The DNI should be a coordinator. Each of the organizations under the DNI has a different mindset and perspective and that must be preserved. No one should be trying to force them to conform to one leader's vision.
The Ackerman article struck me as more anti-military paranoia. Honestly, some people seem to treat military service as a kind of infection. If you have served, you are forever tainted and unable to have any mindset or opinions other than what we have been indoctrinated with by the military.