Too often politicians confuse more accountability, with more people, more positions, more layers of bureaucracy: President Bush said today that he backed creating the post of national intelligence director, one of the main recommendations of the 9/11 commission’s report, which had called the nation’s intelligence agencies collectively dysfunctional. … Mr. Bush also said that he would adopt another commission recommendation, the creation of a national counterterrorism center, which the commission sought to conduct strategic analysis of intelligence, plan and assign intelligence operations, and oversee what intelligence is collected. Earlier I pointed to this Brookings Institution study, which notes that, under Bush, our federal government has never been thicker with layers of bureaucracy. And as the study’s author concludes, more layers can actually mean less accountability: “Unlike the private sector, which extols the virtues of ‘less is more’ when it comes to management layers, Congress and presidents continue to behave as if new layers of management, and more managers at each layer, somehow improvement accountability and performance. In fact, more is actually less when it comes to making sure the front lines of government have the resources and guidance they need to faithfully execute the laws.” Don’t expect either candidate to endorse any national security recommendation that would actually streamline anything.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.