. . . Wednesday December 8, 2004

Toothless Figurehead?

Slate’s Fred Kaplan calls the new director of intelligence a toothless figurehead.

Most of the analysis seems to support this assertion. Should the power of the director of intelligence depend entirely on the specific personalities involved? Dan Froomkin has collected some interesting quotes.

Wash Post: “The new director would have competition for the president’s ear. The director of a new national counterterrorism center would be a presidential appointee who would report directly to the president on counterterrorist operations.”

LA Times: “The ultimate success of the spy chief will depend in large part on bureaucratic skill and the level of support provided by President Bush.”

Chic Trib: “The skill that person exerts in wresting control of the 15 government intelligence agencies, some of which have grown accustomed to operational autonomy, will go a long way toward determining whether the reforms will work or just become just another layer of bureaucracy.”

WSJ: “The national intelligence director’s clout could depend to a large extent on whom President Bush appoints and whether his choice has stature within the administration.”

It’s also interesting to look again at the way we cover these stories. Before the bill was a done deal, most of the coverage revolved around the politics of getting it passed and what that internal debate would mean in relation to the second Bush term. Now that it’s done, we get some analysis about whether or not it was even a good piece of legislation in the first place.

Concentration is important!