How to Set the C.I.A. Free
It is the word “director” that promises trouble. Any attempt to put all intelligence in a single set of hands ignores the reason different intelligence organizations were established in the first place, and invites a threat to freedom and democracy dwarfing any we have seen so far. But a “secretary of intelligence service” Ã¢€” not a director Ã¢€” could safely be given a wide range of powers to oversee performance, allocate money, compel cooperation where it is lacking, and shield any official or body from inappropriate influence. Perhaps most important of all, adding one degree of separation between the C.I.A. and the White House would allow the agency to reassert the integrity it has always claimed as a goal Ã¢€” calling them as it seems them.
A new secretary of intelligence service could crack the whip when intelligence chiefs balk at cooperating with one another, and adding a new step in the chain of command would shore up the independence of the C.I.A., a goal all parties agree on. Creating a new cabinet position would not solve every problem, but reformers with an appetite for still bigger changes should test their strength with this one first.
This strikes me as a mainly a semantic distinction. Certainly, having a cabinet secretary in charge will hardly insulate the IC from political pressure from the presidency. I agree that disagregating the position of CIA director from that of DCI–whatever the new position is called and however power is arranged–is a key to improving the system.