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Stephen Colbert Intelligently Discusses Intelligence

Posted on August 18 2010 11:00 am
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“Small is better,” said Richard Clarke to Stephen Colbert on last night’s episode of “The Colbert Report.” And Colbert seemed to agree with him, mocking the horde of intelligence agencies we have, who then have tens of thousands of personnel, contractors and bureaucratic red tape. In his words, on 9/11 we failed to connect the dots—so we responded by adding more dots.

The complexity of the intelligence community leads to duplication of tasks, excessive compartmentalization  and an uncontrollable system. Clarke bluntly stated that this growth in the community actually makes it more likely that an attack will occur. And, if you want to get political about it, that small government is more efficient.

Watch the segment after the jump:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Growing Intelligence Community – Richard Clarke
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

Consolidation is needed. Resources need to be pooled. One of the boldest ideas presented after 9/11 was combining our intelligence agencies into one agency, or at least putting together all of the counter-terrorism sections. There’d be a ton of outcry as people lost jobs and felt insecure from all the shifting around, and intelligence officials would fight the policy by anonymously talking to the press.

But what other option do we have? The biggest problem is cross-agency cooperation—so shouldn’t we make that trek shorter by reducing the number of agencies? The Department of Homeland Security and the post of Director of National Intelligence were made to oversee the coordination of the intelligence community—but that was the task the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, was supposed to be doing.

While the creation of these new bureaucracies did have some positive affects, we need to recognize that they added a layer of bureaucracy. We reacted to one bureaucracy’s failure in oversight by adding another bureaucracy for oversight. If the DHS and DNI continue to grow, what body will be created to oversee them?

Bravo to Colbert for pointing out that intelligence reform shouldn’t be over. We need to continue to look at ways of substantively changing the structure of the intelligence community. And if you don’t believe me, Google “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,” “Nidal Malik Hussein” and “Samir Khan.”

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