A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Sunday, July 11, 2004 :::
A certain pudgy, balding English teacher has made but a dent in the comprehensive report on pre-war assessments of Iraqi WMD by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. That first sentence probably put you to sleep, which is a pity, because there is real gold in them thar hills.

In truth, one hardly needs to get to page 31 to find several statements that make clear just how grand are the accomplishments of one George Tenet, formerly Director of Central Intelligence. Grandest, of course, is sending this great country off to a war which has proven very problematic, followed closely by gravely wounding the credibility of our intelligence services.

It turns out there is more.

But first, a word of background, and you have to promise not to fall asleep just because it begins with the word "bureaucracies," as it must. Bureaucracies and Congressional Committees work hand in hand: a Congressional Committee is only as powerful as the bureucracy it "oversees," and a bureaucracy can only flourish if it falls under the right committee.

Power in Washington, it must be added, comes from some combination of jurisdiction and money. The on-going and destructive fight between the Policy Planning Office at the Department of Defense and the entire rest of the Pentagon illustrates how a "small" staff with a limited budget but powerful political clients can wage effective war against an over-funded and over-staffed bureaucracy--and how effectively an over-funded and over-staffed bureaucracy can fight back, it must be added.

But in the final analysis, money beats all. And of course the CIA has been saying that its biggest problem was that the Clinton Administration starved it of funds, which may be true.

And what is true of all Congressional committees is true of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and so it is only natural that rumors about increased intelligence budgets have been popping up here and there. One would in fact fully expect the Intelligence Committee to have discovered a need for a doubled budget.

But what does that very Intelligence Committee conclude in its comprehensive report? The CIA does not need more money; it needs to do a much better job--in fact, a completely different job--with the money it has.

This is surely a first in the annals of the federal budget, and for this, as for so much else, Mr. Tenet is to be congratulated.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:23 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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