The establishment and existence of several committees on intelligence should not necessarily dilute the functions of the oversight and congressional organs. Perhaps, poor coordination between the individual committees and oversight bodies is a major challenge. Worse still, it is apparent that congressional control and the senior intelligence oversight bodies have been demeaning and undermining the roles of the committees. If all the different organs can work in a more coordinated manner, then attaining the goals of the national Intelligence Community cannot be a hurdle (Moran 2011, 678).
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Besides, focusing on financial control of the committees, the congressional wing, and the oversight body might still fail to yield the expected results. It is indeed factual that finance plays a very important role in ensuring the effective delivery of intelligence services to the nation. Nonetheless, most of the agencies are not within the control of the federal government. As a result, coordinating their activities becomes a major challenge, and failure on the part of the Intelligence Community.
Pointing an accusing finger to small local intelligence agencies might not be the solution. It is agreeable that most of the localized agencies lack adequate power or authority to discharge their duties. Hence, the resounding challenge facing the Intelligence Community is the lack of democratization of local agencies. Why is it that the media is playing such a momentous role in researching and sharing intelligence information more than some local agencies? According to Matei, “Democratic civilian control (DCC) is conceptualized in terms of authority over the following: institutional control mechanisms, oversight, and the inculcation of professional norms, although these norms can also contribute to effectiveness” (2011, 76). This implies that even the local agencies require additional democratic authority to function well.
It is indeed true that streamlining the operations of the Intelligence Community may offer a much-needed solution. However, the size of the community may not accommodate single-handed leadership. The large size of the Intelligence Community is an advantage on its own because intelligence information can be gathered from diverse sources. A major setback arises when some of the agencies duplicate their roles in the course of gathering and analyzing intelligence data. Moreover, there is the risk of delayed processing of intelligence information from the lower to higher levels. In some instances, information that can be processed and acted upon within one month may take several months before it is completed (Puyvelde 2013, 146).
In regards to covert hearings and meetings that are not known to the public, it is common knowledge that intelligence information should not be made public especially before requisite action has been taken and the pending threats managed successfully. Perhaps, the Intelligence Community can still work in its closet but ensure that it avoids “the roots of weak intelligence oversight” (Zegart 2011, 2). For example, the Intelligence Community is still stuck in the past ever since the occurrence of the September 11 attacks. Instead of marshaling its competences and resources towards setting up better strategies for gathering and analyzing intelligence information, the Bush administration has remained to be the subject of discussion.
Also, the Intelligence Community requires a high level of accountability in terms of service delivery. Who evaluates the performance of the community? Media coverage on the effectiveness of the community is often full of critics. The federal government hardly takes any proactive measures against poor performers in the Intelligence Community.
Matei, Florina Cristiana. 2013. “The Media’s Role in Intelligence Democratization.” International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 27, no.1: 73-108.
Moran, Christopher, 2011. “Intelligence and the Media: The press, government secrecy and the ‘Buster’ Crabb Affair.” Intelligence and National Security 26, no. 5: 676-700.
Puyvelde, Damien. 2013. “Intelligence Accountability and the role of public interest groups in the United States.” Intelligence and National Security 28, no. 2: 139-158.
Zegart, Amy. 2011. “The Domestic Politics Of Irrational Intelligence Oversight.” Political Science Quarterly 126, no.1: 1-25.