May 12, 2007

Take the Training Wheels Off

It's a very old chestnut in the conservative arsenal to decry the 1970s gutting of US intelligence. The intelligence agency geldings that started then continued pretty much until 9/11 awoke all us to the horror of what we had collectively done, blinded our guardians (though some had been awake and warning of the coming catastrophe from the beginning). But all that's over. We have so recovered our national intelligence capabilities that, according to Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, we can divert resources to assessing climate change impacts.

The immediate threat of jihadis massacring soldiers in their bases and civilians in the malls has been resolved adequately. Our program of rebuilding our human intelligence capabilities needs no further resources. Our technological intelligence facilities need nothing more. The guys at the pointy end of the spear are overflowing with timely intelligence reports and pictures flowing flawlessly.

Were it not, the insertion of the DNI into a partisan debate over would be entirely inappropriate. The threat of global warming is not a threat for next week or even next year. An awful lot of americans have already died because of the gelding of our human intelligence and our self-imposed limitations on covert action. Collectively, we haven't descended into an orgy of "I told you so's" and finger pointing over those 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s decisions. We've given our intelligence agencies pass after pass, let them get by on lower standards, essentially let them ride with training wheels.

But with this foray into global warming, the training wheels should come off. We need to take this statement as a "coming out party" for our intelligence agencies, that they are comfortable with their core competencies and are ready to branch out to more long term and speculative work. That's fine, as far as it goes. If we truly have turned the corner, you won't find anybody happier than me. But if they haven't turned the corner, they haven't fixed the troubles that have led to so much death and misapplied action on the part of the US government, heads should roll for taking their eyes off the ball and taking on a politically popular but very long-term and uncertain threat.

HT: Instapundit

Posted by TMLutas at May 12, 2007 10:40 AM