U.S. Intel System Remains Troubled, House Says

Significant problems remain within the U.S. intelligence system, despite reform efforts that followed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a report issued yesterday by the House Select Intelligence Committee (see GSN, April 20).

Problem areas include information sharing between agencies and their sense of urgency about the threat about threats facing the country, the Associated Press re[ported.

The report also criticizes National Intelligence Director John Negroponte — whose office has overseen all 16 intelligence agencies for 15 months — for “trying to do a little of everything, which slows down improvements in key areas.” 

The intelligence chief needs to “create an environment in which agencies complement each other rather than compete against each other,” according to the report. That “is no easy task,” it said.

The 41-page review recommended that Negroponte create performance plans with the agencies and be more responsive to Congress. It noted, though, that intelligence agencies have used videoconference calls to improve information sharing, and that including information from second-tier agencies has improved intelligence reports for the White House and Congress.

“Some good, needed steps have been taken, while other reforms have lagged,” the report stated. “Some believe that the new structure is too cumbersome and bureaucratic; others believe that the director of national intelligence is not showing the leadership and degree of change for which they hoped.”

Negroponte’s office responded that it has “acted with urgency and focus” in revamping the intelligence community that faced widespread criticism for failure preceding the 2001 attacks.

Negroponte also released a nine-page report addressing the steps his office took in its first year to improve the collection and sharing of information, AP reported.

The intelligence community “has made critical improvements to the security of the United States of America,” his report stated. It also noted that the agencies “met considerable success” and have “clear plans for moving forward.”

Negroponte’s office said the House report “acknowledges the complexity and importance of the task before us.”

“Similarly, we recognize that change does not come easily to large enterprises and that we must continue to aggressively work to fulfill the mandate of the intelligence reform legislation,” Negroponte’s office said in a statement (Associated Press/USA Today, July 27).

July 28, 2006
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Significant problems remain within the U.S. intelligence system, despite reform efforts that followed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a report issued yesterday by the House Select Intelligence Committee (see GSN, April 20).