- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

The American people had a right to feel that they were protected by their government from the Sept. 11 tragedy. While we concentrate on mourning our losses, burying our dead, and seeing to it that those who committed this horrendous crime are brought to justice and their networks are destroyed, we should not overlook the flaws in our intelligence system, and especially those of the FBI and CIA. In most countries, after such a catastrophe, those responsible for our protection would have resigned on their own. This has not happened, and the excuses we hear are a lack of resources and some sort of deterioration that has taken place because of well-intentioned rules and regulations to protect our civil liberties.
This is absurd on the face of it. Having run an agency myself, you never have enough resources, you never have enough good people, and you never have the right kind of organization. What has to be done by the senior people is to prioritize their objectives, doing the most important ones first. There is always enough money for the most important ones.
A little over 20 years ago, I sat with Bill Casey at the Madison Hotel. He was explaining to me why he wanted to make a close friend of mine Max Hugel head of covert activities in the CIA. Whether or not Mr. Hugel was the right guy for the job (I think he was) was not the issue. Mr. Casey was explaining to me that the intelligence services since World War II had deteriorated year after year. But the reason for this deterioration was not just the lack of human resources or rules that limited the way we functioned, or the concentration on technology. It was that the intelligence community had grown up as an old boys' network made up of many bureaucracies, self-serving, inhibiting the free-flow of information that the president has a right to get and without the clearer leadership and management expertise that would give us the protection we need.
Mr. Casey said to me that no one would be able to clean up the intelligence community from the inside. We had to bring in new people from the outside; people who didn't necessarily have to be intelligence people but would know how to manage companies as large as the various agencies that make up the intelligence community. Things didn't go well for Mr. Casey at that stage. Mr. Hugel was forced to resign in order to save Mr. Casey. And while Mr. Casey ran the agency in the best interest of our country, he was never able to bring the management changes he wished. A year or two later when in my role as head of the General Services Administration and later the permanent representative to the United Nations with the rank of ambassador I recall discussions on the threat of terrorism and the possibility of hijacking planes being used as weapons. This threat was recognized 20 years ago or longer. It is just not true that this tactic represents a surprise among those who plan against such things. We don't need Pennsylvania Avenue closed off, and we need Ronald Reagan National Airport open. We don't need to have this terrible tragedy change our lives forever, and we certainly don't need those prophets of doom telling us that things will never be the same. What we do need is a well-run intelligence community that will protect us from terrorist threats that will give our law-enforcement people and military enough advance notice to stop those threats and destroy the people who would use such methods.
Certainly the Oversight Committees of the House and Senate have a share in the blame they tolerate the bureaucratic old boys' network that provides jobs for life, promotions through the system and never a real price for failing. We all could list intelligence failures over the last 50 years, and they are many. The intelligence community will tell you that we only know of the failures and not their successes. Two things would have happened if we knew about the latter: 1) If they were real, they would have given our society a sense of awareness and would have led to higher protective measures; or 2) we would have been able to evaluate whether there were true successes.
This great tragedy of Sept. 11 is a failure of our intelligence community. The people we look to for protection should go. I would suggest to the president or to the Congress that we look to proven managers, such as Jack Welch (or Gov. Tom Ridge who now seems to have that job), who understands how to manage large companies and get results and knows how to clean house, and it's about time.
I understand that thousands of men and women who serve in our intelligence community are heroes who daily put their lives on the line. That only makes the leadership of those men and women even more important and makes the obligation for change even greater.
Following the attacks, President Bush gave a speech that filled us all with hope. It was the kind of leadership that all Americans can rally around. The appointment of Mr. Ridge is a good start, but patriotism and unity should not be used as a cover for those who have failed us.

Ambassador Gerald P. Carmen was appointed by Ronald Reagan to be the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. He is vice chairman of the Carmen Group.

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