July 22, 2004
Government Should Cut Number of Intelligence Bureaucracies, Not Increase Them, Says National Security Expert Ivan Eland
Oakland, Ca. Todays 9/11 Commission report cites failures of government agenciesfrom intelligence to diplomacy to aviation securityfor the attacks on September 11. Their recommendation, to create a new national counter-terrorism center to coordinate foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism, unfortunately exacerbates, rather than solves, the very government coordination problems the commission identified, says national security expert Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
Like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the creation of a new national counter terrorism center, along with a new national intelligence director, who would control the myriad of intelligence agencies and their budgets, only adds another layer of bureaucracy, says Eland. To fight small, agile terror groups, the government should cut the number of intelligence bureaucracies, not increase them.
The commission correctly criticized the performance of U.S. intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, aviation security and the military prior to or on that horrible day, says Eland. The commission also made useful recommendations to safeguard American liberties namely reform of the FBI instead of creating a dangerous new domestic spy agency and improved congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security agencies.
But like many government and quasi-government bodies after September 11, Eland points out, the 9/11 Commission focused on dubious recommendations about what the government could do to improve its response to terrorism instead of the more important question of what it could do to lessen the chances of an attack in the first place.
The major flaw in the commissions analysis and recommendations was one of omission, says Eland. They did not address the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks. Dealing with the underlying causes is the only way to reduce the chances of future terrorist attacks. In his statement upon release of the commissions report, Thomas Kean, the commissions chairman, incorrectly opined that the terrorists hate America and its policies. Even al Qaeda does not hate America per se. The groups statements indicate that it hates U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, especially the U.S. governments propping up of corrupt Arab regimes. Ending longstanding U.S. government meddling in the Middle East would achieve more than any of the commissions recommendations to reduce terrorist attacks on innocent Americans.