Further to these posts,
some serious rethinking may be in the air:
1) Secret report raises alarms on intelligence blind spots because of AQ focus
[love those secret American reports]
A panel of White House advisers warned President Obama in a secret report that U.S. spy agencies were paying inadequate attention to China, the Middle East and other national security flash points because they had become too focused on military operations and drone strikes, U.S. officials said.
Led by influential figures including new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former senator David L. Boren (D-Okla.), the panel concluded in a report last year that the roles of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other spy services had been distorted by more than a decade of conflict.
The classified document called for the first significant shift in intelligence resources since they began flowing heavily toward counterterrorism programs and war zones after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The findings by the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board [more here] may signal a turning point in the terrorism fight. The document was distributed to senior national security officials at the White House whose public remarks in recent weeks suggest that they share some of the panel’s concerns.
John O. Brennan, Obama’s former top counterterrorism adviser, who was sworn in as CIA director this month, told Congress in February that he planned to evaluate the “allocation of mission” at the agency. He described the scope of CIA involvement in lethal operations as an “aberration from its traditional role [see link at start of this post].”
U.S. intelligence officials cautioned that any course adjustments are likely to be more incremental than wholesale. One reason is continued concern about the al-Qaeda threat. But another is the influence accumulated by counterterrorism institutions such as the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center as they have expanded over the past decade [ah, the weight of institutional bureaucracy].
Even Brennan made it clear that the CIA will not relinquish its fleet of armed drones, saying in written answers submitted to lawmakers as part of his confirmation that the agency had a long paramilitary history and “must continue to be able to provide the president with this option [but see below].”..
U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that demands on spy agencies have grown in recent years, driven by political turmoil associated with the Arab Spring, the cyber-espionage threat posed by China and the splintering of militant groups in North Africa. The pressure has been compounded by shrinking or stagnant budgets for most agencies after years of double-digit increases…
2) U.S. to Shift Drone Command
Mounting Criticism Sparks Push to Move Lethal Program to Military From CIA
The White House is working to shift control of the Central Intelligence Agency’s lethal drone program to the military, U.S. officials say, a move that redefines the widely contested campaign that targets suspected terrorists.
The new directive is intended to shift the covert drone program to one that is subject to international laws of war and undertaken with the consent of host governments.
The draft document reflects a growing consensus within the Obama administration that the long-term future of the program lies with the military, where U.S. officials say it will be on firmer legal footing and be more transparent. The drone program has drawn fire from both Democrats and Republicans who say it is secretive and unpredictable…
The administration shift on drones was outlined in recent weeks as a draft presidential directive, which provides formal guidance to federal agencies. The directive, once finalized, will set out a general framework for the shift to the military, providing a “clear marker” of where the drone program is heading without setting out hard and fast deadlines, a senior U.S. official said.
Top administration officials have agreed to the change in principle, but final approval of the directive awaits the president’s nod, U.S. officials said…
Under the directive, the CIA won’t immediately leave the business of unmanned strikes, but eventually would return to its more traditional role of providing intelligence to the military, which can in turn target suspected terrorists…
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute