Does Obama Wish to Cripple the CIA with Panetta?

Posted in United States | 07-Jan-09 | Author: Jim Kouri| Source: National Association of Chiefs of Police

President-elect Barack Obama has selected Panetta to head the CIA, according to an Obama transition official.

On Tuesday, former Clinton Administration adviser Dick Morris told Fox News Channel that President-Elect Barack Obama's motive for the nomination of Leon Panetta to the important post of Director of Central Intelligence is to tear that agency apart.

While I concur with Morris' assessment (I rarely agree with the bloviating Morris), it is my hope Panetta will be either turned away during his confirmation hearings or his name will be withdrawn altogether.

Efforts to combat terrorism have become an increasingly important part of government activities. These efforts have also become important in the United States' relations with other countries and with international organizations.
The United States' intelligence community is undergoing the most extensive — perhaps even radical — transformations since the Office of Strategic Services gave way to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Recognizing that people are the critical element in transformation initiatives is key to a successful transformation of the intelligence community and related homeland security organizations.

The CIA is responsible for coordinating US counterintelligence activities abroad. Each of the military departments also has a counterintelligence element that operates domestically and overseas.

The mission of intelligence agencies is to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence to their consumers. Human sources and technical collection systems can be developed only over long periods of time and often at great cost. They are easily compromised and, when compromised, often cannot be replaced. Accordingly, intelligence agencies are by nature reluctant to permit consumers, including law enforcement agencies, to use intelligence in any way that might result in the loss of a source or collection method.

These elements have offensive and defensive missions. Offensively, they attempt to recruit agents within foreign intelligence services to ascertain what, if any, operations are being undertaken against the United States; they monitor the activities of known or suspected agents of foreign intelligence services; and they undertake operations to ascertain the targets and modus operandi of foreign intelligence services.

Defensively, they investigate cases of suspected espionage and prepare analyses for government and industry concerning the foreign intelligence threat. While the FBI has principal jurisdiction to investigate suspected espionage within the United States, all intelligence agencies maintain internal capabilities to undertake preliminary inquiries of their own employees. Military counterintelligence elements have concurrent jurisdiction to carry out counterintelligence investigations of their respective military personnel.

Counterintelligence, as a function of intelligence agencies, however, goes well beyond detecting and monitoring the activities of foreign intelligence services and investigating employees suspected of espionage. Counterintelligence is an integral part of the entire intelligence process.

Historically, intelligence agencies have not performed this crucial function very well. Virtually all have suffered severe losses due to a failure to recognize anomalous behavior on the part of their own employees. Some have also had problems recognizing anomalies in the behavior of their sources or in the appearance or actions of their targets. And into this mix, President Obama wishes to insert the likes of Leon Panetta, a left-wing Democrat Party operative.

Successful major change management initiatives in large public and private sector organizations can often take at least 5 to 7 years to create what is needed to ensure success. As a result, committed and sustained leadership is indispensable to making lasting changes in the intelligence community.

Accordingly, the US Congress may want to consider lengthening the terms served by the directors of the intelligence agencies, similar to the FBI Director's 10-year term as was recommended by a panel from the General Accounting Office last year.

One of the major challenges facing the intelligence community is moving from a culture of "need to know" to a "need to share" organizations, while maintaining secrecy. The experience of leading organizations suggests that performance management systems — that define, align, and integrate institutional, unit, and individual performance with organizational goals — can provide incentives and accountability for sharing information to help achieve this shift.

Some critics of the CIA claim that over the years it has become more of a "think tank" than an intelligence gathering and counterterrorism organization. One official alleges that politics within "The Company" resembles the politics exhibited at American universities, with bureaucrats "living in ivory towers far removed from the real world of espionage and terrorism."

Significant changes have been underway in the last 3 years regarding how the federal workforce is managed. The Congress passed legislation providing certain government-wide human resources flexibilities, such as direct hiring authority by agency executives. While many federal agencies have received such flexibility, others may be both needed and appropriate for intelligence agencies, such as providing these agencies with the authority to hire a limited number of term-appointed positions on a noncompetitive basis.

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, General Accountability Office, National Security Institute, National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at