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Here, too, if the commission does not want to look like an error, it must cite errors of commission — and omission. It must offer plans to shake things up, to turn things over, to shift things around, to reassess and reassert and reassign. Before you know it, the old system that worked has been junked, and its replacement is a whole lot worse, if only because green discolors more than rust. The commission scraps and meddles, but it does not necessarily iron. The process is wronger than the premise.
Finally, wrongest of all is the idea itself. We all recognize the Director of General Intelligence; he is the doddering old dodo in Len Deighton novels who is too busy polishing his political alliances to worry overmuch about his work product. Unless someone has a Churchillian figure in mind, or even an Acheson, letting one address be the final port of call for all intelligence information and analysis practically guarantees that much, if not most, valuable material will arrive at a dead end. One office means one viewpoint, that is a hard and fast rule of bureaucracy. If you want diverse approaches, you must set up divergent channels.
GENERALLY, TOO, MONOPOLY IS not an idea that works any better in government than it does in the private sector. The Departments of State and Defense have job descriptions with a great deal of overlap, a recipe for tension, friction, and attrition. In administration after administration, the tales of infighting and arm-wrestling are traded with lip-smacking relish. Still, the overall result of this clash is positive. Most of the tension is converted into creativity. The only response to backbiting is to keep busy on the front burner.
If you want to examine the effectiveness of a monopoly in a governmental setting, ask yourself two questions. 1) What fabulous innovative thing has the Department of Interior done for you lately to improve your life as a citizen? 2) Who the heck is the Secretary of Interior anyway?
Creating a Directorate of General Intelligence to mold the entire colorful display of intelligence flavors into one plain-vanilla report for the President is an absolutely awful idea that will make us drastically less equipped for the next unpleasant surprise. The problem is that when that happens, the next commission will have every option but one: they will never be able to admit that the previous body saddled us with a new nightmare. Once we take off the multi-colored dreamcoat, we will not get another shot at the kingdom.
Mr. President, if you must do eppess, why not something dynamic that will capture the public imagination without letting your decision-making be “out of commission”? Why not assemble all the leaders of the different arms of the intelligence structure in the Oval Office and announce that you are going to make the exact opposite move? You will have a separate quasi-cabinet meeting once a week with the “intelligence cabinet,” in which each group will have a chance to put forth what it considers to be its matter of highest priority.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?