[FPSPACE] New SecDef on US Military/Intel Space
Dwayne Allen Day
Mon, 22 Jan 2001 10:12:08 -0500 (EST)
Rumsfeld Armed With Know-How to Take on Defense
By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 22, 2001
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld starts at the Pentagon this week
focused squarely on intelligence, promising to sort through a myriad of
structural problems that have left the Intelligence Community under the
nominal authority of the director of central intelligence (DCI) but
largely funded by the Department of Defense.
The system is broken and no one seems more aware of that than
President-elect Bush's new defense chief.
Running down a list of five "key objectives" last week before the Senate
Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld put modernizing the military's command,
control, communications, intelligence and space capabilities third, behind
only deterrence against weapons of mass destruction and readiness of
"I'm committed to strengthening our intelligence, to serve both our
short-term and our long-term national security needs," Rumsfeld said
during his day-long confirmation hearing. "I will personally make
establishing a strong spirit of cooperation between the Department of
Defense and the rest of the intelligence community, under the leadership
of the DCI, one of my top priorities."
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) asked at one point, "What keeps you up at
night?" Rumsfeld didn't skip a beat: "The importance of considerably
improving our intelligence capabilities so that we know more about what
people think and how they behave and how their behavior can be altered and
what the capabilities are in this world."
And when Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) asked what one "big idea" he would bring
to the Pentagon, Rumsfeld returned to intelligence, saying he wanted our
defense establishment to be much smarter about what deters hostile nations
from aggressive behavior in the post-Cold War world.
"We don't want to win wars; we want to prevent them," Rumsfeld said. "We
want to be so powerful and forward-looking that it is clear to others that
they ought not to be damaging their neighbors when it affects our
interests, and they ought not to be doing things that are imposing threats
and dangers to us."
Rumsfeld is under no illusions about the difficulties involved in
intelligence reform. Here is a man who, at one point during his
confirmation hearing, casually mentioned reading "Eye in the Sky," a book
on the Corona spy satellite program, as he responded to a question about
National Missile Defense.
Corona, Rumsfeld noted, "failed 11, 12 or 13 times during the Eisenhower
administration and the Kennedy administration. And they stuck with it, and
it worked, and they ended up saving billions of dollars."
At another point, Rumsfeld talked about chairing a congressional
commission on the ballistic missile threat precisely because a 1995
National Intelligence Estimate wasn't properly assessing the problem. "My
impression is that more recent NIEs have begun to take account of some of
the suggestions [the commission] made," he said.
Similarly, Rumsfeld said that "vastly better intelligence" is required to
counter the threat posed by terrorists.
Indeed, Rumsfeld said a large part of the problem stems from the fact that
the intelligence community "is really not a community, as you know; it is
a set of organizations the CIA and the NSA and the NRO and the DIA and
Air Force, Army and Navy intelligence, the State Department, the FBI
there's all kinds of pieces to it."
"There are some very complicated issues in rearranging our intelligence
gathering to fit the new century, to fit the new circumstance with
proliferation," Rumsfeld said. "And I think that bureaucracies don't like
to change; they're terribly resistant to change, and the only way they're
going to change is if the very senior people meet regularly, understand
where each is going, and recognize the fact that each has responsibilities
that can't be performed unless the two of them work together."
Now, finally, we know the man with whom Rumsfeld will be crafting this
close relationship George J. Tenet.
Last week, after weeks and weeks of speculation, President-elect Bush
announced that he would keep Tenet on for an indefinite period.
Tenet's detractors in the intelligence world have faulted him for not
being a more activist DCI and resolving some of the big-ticket management
issues Rumsfeld is now bringing to the fore.
But intelligence community reform never seemed to be much of a priority in
the Clinton administration, following short and unhappy CIA stints by
R. James Woolsey and John M. Deutch. And Tenet probably doesn't bear
responsibility for that lack of interest.
While the sprawling, 13-member Intelligence Community may be something of
a mess, the essential hub directly run by Tenet the Central Intelligence
Agency seems productive and under control. Beyond long-standing concerns
about the capability of its clandestine spy service, policymakers do not
seem unhappy with the agency's output.
Assessing Tenet's skills as a manager and as a spymaster is hard, given
the secrecy of the CIA and the reflexive opinions voiced by many who seek
to defend or attack the institution. Outside observers have to be honest
Whatever else can be said about Tenet's stewardship at Langley, the CIA
would probably be in a lot worse shape today if he had not stepped in
forcefully three years ago and made the case on Capitol Hill that the
agency simply could not be cut any further and needed a substantial
infusion of resources to restore its espionage capabilities overseas and
maintain its analytic capacity at home.
And Tenet will never be faulted for trying to get ahead at the agency's
expense. He has never expressed anything but deep affection and abiding
respect for the institution, which cannot be said for his
predecessor. Morale has rebounded on his watch.
Coming from a staff background on Capitol Hill, Tenet will never be spy
enough for some hard-core operations types.
Then there's Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Tenet's chief critic in
Congress. The senator seems genuinely offended by Tenet's handling of the
CIA's internal investigation into Deutch's egregious home computer
security violations. And he may well be right when he argues that Tenet's
oversight of the probe wasn't his finest hour.
But the new president does not seem to see it as any kind of defining
failure, in spite of Shelby's counsel that he replace Tenet and pick his
While Tenet may forever be a former Senate staffer in Shelby's eyes, he
now has the distinction of being the first DCI since Richard M. Helms to
be asked to stay on during a change of parties in the White House.
And if Tenet lasts seven months into Bush II, he will be the longest
serving DCI since William Casey. Bush's vote of confidence also relieves
Tenet of what for him has long been his major problem with a key CIA
constituency, the political right. He doesn't work for Clinton anymore.
He could well stick around longer than most people think and be of far
more use to the new administration that his detractors on the right might
allow. Perhaps they'll see him differently now, sans Clinton.
Required Reading I
Before their first get-together, Rumsfeld and Tenet will undoubtedly have
read and digested a blistering new report of the Independent Commission on
the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), which said the country's
newest intelligence bureaucracy is far from realizing its promise for
fusing satellite imagery and military mapping in the digital age.
Among its findings:
The Intelligence Community is "collection centric," spending billions on
spy satellites and other exotic means for gathering data without
appropriating the billions necessary for processing the information
streaming down from space and disseminating it to commanders and
intelligence analysts around the world.
U.S. military doctrine has become so dependent on intelligence,
particularly satellite imagery supplied by NIMA, that "it may become
unsupportable with current investments."
Competition for imagery between military commanders and civilians in the
Intelligence Community and executive branch "borders on the unhealthy" and
must be stopped.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), NIMA's sister agency that
procures and operates spy satellites, took "inadequate notice" of the
availability of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery in designing
specifications for a new generation of U.S. spy satellites under a program
called Future Imagery Architecture (FIA).
The Intelligence Community lacks a strategy and has never appropriated
enough money for acquiring commercial satellite imagery as a means of
augmenting imagery from classified government satellites.
The Intelligence Community seems to have inadequately explored new means
for processing, evaluating and disseminating vast quantities of digital
data from the FIA satellites, which will be coming on line over the next
"The commission acknowledges the Herculean task of modernizing while under
resourced and simultaneously attempting to satisfy the increasing demand
for its staple products," the panel concluded in its 164-page report.
Required Reading II
Rumsfeld will surely have read the new report of a commission on
U.S. space policy and national security, since he chaired the
congressionally mandated panel up until his nomination as secretary of
Three of the commission's 10 recommendations touch directly on
Pentagon-Intelligence Community Relations:
Recommendation No. 4: The secretary of defense and the DCI must have a
"close, continuing and effective relationship" in order to resolve policy
issues and allocate resources for space assets needed for both
intelligence and war fighting.
Recommendation No. 5: A new post of undersecretary of defense for space,
intelligence and information should be created to oversee research and
development, acquisition of space assets and coordination with the
Recommendation No. 8: A new post of undersecretary of the Air Force
should be created to run the NRO and serve as the sole acquisition
authority for space assets, a responsibility now shared by the military
and the DCI.
The net effect of the commissions recommendations would make the DCI an
official responsible for setting requirements for space assets and
acquisition but not the one with appropriations authority for actually
purchasing spy satellites.
"My guess is that DCI won't be happy about being a customer of DoD when it
comes to space-based collection," one intelligence official said. "But
there are many areas where one government department has the lead for a
service of common concern, and the other agencies simply state
This will be an early test, perhaps, of the Rumsfeld-Tenet relationship.