A sign that this entity should be abolished, and I mean really gone, done in, not with its parts redistributed to other entities, is that it is an an entity defined by its director, not itself. In preparing to write this post I checked on it, and I thought it was the ONI, the Office of National Intelligence. But, no, it is the ODNI, spelled out as above, really. And it should go.
Why was it ever created in the first place, this unnecessary entity? It was created in 2005 as a reaction to the failures of the US intel establishment to “connect the dots” in the runup to the 9/11/01 disastrous attack that killed about 3,000 people in a terrorist attack, about 1.5% of the number of people who have died this year in the coronavirus pandemic in the US. Indeed, there were failures of communication between the FBI and the CIA then that helped lead to that attack. But the creation of a supposedly overseeing entity has not remotely overcome the tendency of these agencies not to share information with each other, even though various politicians at the time thought that it would achieve such a result.
Indeed, this ODNI simply became yet another entity among others, at least 17 others in fact, over which it theoretically has power, but which in fact it does not. I cannot even name all 17 of those entities, although I know that some of the more important ones are barely known to the US public, such as the NRO and the NGIA (and no, kids, not going to tell you all what they are what they do. If you do not know, tough). There was never any way it was going to be on top of or direct or do anything useful at all with respect to any of these 17 entities, some of which also should probably go. But none of them as much as what has now become not only a useless entity but an odious one.
That it is not only useless but potentially dangerous has now become clear as Donald Trump has installed as the Director who justifies the existence of this entity, which is his “Office” after all, John Ratcliffe, five-year far-right Congressman from Texas with zero intelligence experience, but a record of supporting the most ridiculous conspiracy theories advocated by Donald Trump. He promised not to be partisan in his new position, but almost everything he has done since his appointment suggests that he was lying when he made that promise.
Two items suggesting this include his affirmation that the New York Post story about a laptop supposedly belonging to Hunter Biden with various scandalous emails on it was not a product of Russian intelligence activity, even as over 40 former US intel officers publicly declared that it seriously looked like that was exactly the case, with this being pretty likely given that the person who provided the emails to the NY Post, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was reported many months ago to have been seriously involved with at least one known Russian intel agent.
this blog is about intelligence. When I see a Blog about intelligence I instantly realize that I am unqualified to comment since I am short on intelligence. one thing, however, should stand up and speak for itself. Stare res ipsa loquitur.
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In particular, adding another layer of management is not generally a positive solution when it comes to preventing communications failures. If I recall at least one FBI field agent was alarmed at what he had seen but his district supervisor did not want to escalate the field agent’s concerns about a terrorist attack as middle management generally tries hard to keep a low profile. A better solution would have been to fire an entire layer of management from the FBI and then the CIA just for good measure (but they are not supposed to be working the field in the US are they). That would have accomplished both cogent messaging and effective streamlining of communications in one fell swoop.