OODA OriginalUncategorized

Quite Possibly the Best News . . .

. . . to come out of the IC in a long time:

Many U.S. intelligence agencies as well as the congressional intelligence oversight committees hire their senior staff from a predictable, somewhat in-grown pool of personnel, which frequently includes those who have previously worked in the intelligence field since they can be immediately cleared.

But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence seems to be casting an unusually wide net as it seeks the best qualified staff it can find in academia and the public interest sector.

Historian Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, a China specialist at Georgetown University, became an Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Integrity in January 2006, and was appointed last month as the first ODNI “analytic ombudsman.” (She also previously served in the State Department.)

She also previously dated Ron Montaperto . . .

Even more remarkably, Timothy H. Edgar, a prominent critic of Bush Administration national security policies with the American Civil Liberties Union, has joined the ODNI staff.

Trying to get IC leadership to hire people from outside the gene pool is something akin to cold fusion: we’d all like it to happen, but progress has been limited and tainted by hoaxes. A lot of potential hires don’t get accepted because while their real-world experience is stellar, the lack of clearance means tendering an offer is a crap-shoot; maybe they get cleared but it takes a year; maybe a year passes and they fail the poly. “Outsiders” tend to only be strangers from a given agency and inevitably golfing/poker/drinking/academy buddies of the guy running the show. There is a certain amount of tradition to the practice and sometimes it actually works, but there is nothing like creating new high-end gigs and then filling them with your pals to depress the workforce and make them wonder if directorship brings with it ownership papers. Even cross-pollination of disciplines is rare, even when such moves would make supreme sense. “Not invented here” syndrome has a little-known cousin, “Not hired here.”

So BZ to the Director in his hiring practices. Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train after all.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.