On the Record

More Change May be Coming at CIA

Michael E. O’Hanlon

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LIANE HANSEN, host: The resignation Friday of CIA Director Porter Goss opens the way for the Bush Administration to move forward to overhaul the intelligence gathering agency. The President is expected to nominate Air Force General Michael V. Hayden to the post. Hayden has been deputy to John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. Hayden has reportedly pressed hard for a restructuring of the CIA to refocus its efforts on fighting terrorism. We’re joined by Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution here in Washington.

Welcome back to the show, Mike.

Mr. MICHAEL E. O’HANLON: Thanks, Liane.

HANSEN: Did the resignation of Porter Goss surprise you?

O’HANLON: Absolutely, in the sense that there is no way to put a positive spin on someone leaving after 19 months. This is essentially a failed tenure by a person who I think it capable and well liked by many. And so it is regrettable and it is a bit surprising the Bush administration would want to have things come off this way. That said, I guess they feel it is better to get a strong start and have two and a half more years to work under a new person and General Hayden certainly is capable if he ultimately is the choice.

HANSEN: Your specialty is military affairs, so how does a refocus on terrorism change this calculus of intelligence gathering, by the United States, in relation to military plans and actions?

O’HANLON: Well, of course if we are worried about this, as we must be, we have to spend a lot of time and money getting people trained in languages, getting people infiltrated into key Islamic countries, developing contacts in those countries. It puts more a premium on the human skills and the linguistics skills and the cultural ties, and less of a premium on the hardware, watching, say, the Chinese or Russian militaries. And so, certainly, there is a big transition underway. With a forty-four billion dollar a year budget which was a number recently revealed by the Bush Administration, perhaps inadvertently, which is what we spent on intelligence, there is room to do a lot of things. So it’s not as if the tradeoff has to be drastic. There certainly has begun this move, even under Porter Goss, towards more human intelligence and a little bit less relative emphasis on technical assets.

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