Merchant of Death
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The Slow Pace of Intelligence Reform
Despite the high priority supposedly allotted intelligence reform, there is bipartisan agreement that things are not going well on that front. This is especially critical as the United States faces an array of challenges, perhaps unprecedented, where intelligence is crucial.

According to this CQ Online report, a Congressional report from the House Intelligence Oversight subcommittee, to be released today finds the DNI "has failed to revamp its approach to information analysis, neglecting large swaths of potentially useful data. The report also found that the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence has done a poor job of prioritizing key tasks."

Crisis are raging or brewing from Somalia to Beirut, the Tri-Border Area to Southeast Asia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Good intelligence, paired with good analysis, have seldom been more vital to our survival and well being. But we are quite far from the ideal of a fully functional intelligence community.

Much of what we need to know is occuring in soft states or grey areas, where governments, which the intelligence community knows and understands, simply do not exist. The community has taken only hesitant steps to meet these changing challenges and priorities.

Among the other problems are the slowness in getting security clearances, the lack of standardized procedures for getting those, and the lack of human intelligence. There is also criticism of the lack of information sharing across agency lines and within agencies.

It is no secret that information sharing among intelligence agencies has sharply deteriorated in recent months. Despite a brief cessation of hostilities right after 9-11, the overall situation has never been good, and is getting worse. It is mind boggling that almost five years after 9-11 this difficulty and lack of communication still hobbles a unified effort to identify and fight an enemy who has made no secret of its desire to destroy us.

The lack of human intelligence is something that will not be addressed quickly, but is among the most urgent. This is especially true in areas of growing crisis where the intelligence community remains largely bereft of eyes and ears on the ground. Somalia, Ethiopia, the DRC and most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Tri-Border Area, all face sharp new threats to their stability which will likely have reprecussions for our national interests and security.

Liaison relationships with clearly identified counterparts in stateless regions of the world simply does not happen. Senior U.S. officials have stated publicly that the U.S. had no idea of what was brewing in Somalia, leaving us suddenly faced with an Islamist movement in which the predominant faction is clearly identified with al Qaeda.

The seeming inertia and inability of the leadership to move the reform process forward expeditiously is dangerous to all of us.

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