washingtonpost.com  > Politics > Federal Page > Columns
Back Channels : The Intelligence Community

CIA Panel May Lack Voice for Change

By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 7, 2001; Page A13

A panel of outside experts selected by CIA Director George J. Tenet to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the U.S. intelligence community has plenty of big names but seemingly few voices for radical change.

The eight-member panel, created under a directive issued by President Bush in May, is headed by retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft and includes retired Adm. David Jeremiah, former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr, former undersecretary of state Stapleton Roy and former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick.

_____Column Archive_____
Back Channels

"These are all good people with old ideas," said Robert D. Steele, a former CIA case officer turned open-source intelligence entrepreneur. "There isn't a single iconoclast in the group."

Steele said he would have preferred to see the panel include people such as Loch Johnson, a Church committee staffer now teaching at the University of Georgia; Harlan Cleveland, a former ambassador to NATO and author of "The Knowledge Executive"; and Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired Magazine.

But Jack Devine, a former top CIA operations official with a reformist's bent, said the Scowcroft panel is more than a rubber stamp for the status quo, particularly with people such as Kerr and Jeremiah on board.

"I think they've got all the bases covered with high-caliber people -- and people who aren't afraid to think out of the box," Devine said.

Other members of the panel, which is scheduled to complete its review by the end of September, are John Foster, a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1973 to 1990; Jeong Kim, an information technology expert who serves on the board of In-Q-Tel, the CIA's nonsecret venture capital fund; and William Schneider, a businessman who heads the Defense Science Board.

TURNOVER: Rapid turnover atop the CIA's storied Directorate of Science and Technology continued last week when Tenet tapped Donald M. Kerr to run the DS&T, making him the fourth deputy director in six years.

Kerr, hired four years ago by the FBI to clean up its troubled laboratory, replaces Joanne O. Isham, who is off to serve as deputy director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Isham lasted slightly more than a year as deputy director, having replaced Gary L. Smith, who lasted nine months.

"The major question it raises is why?" author Jeffrey T. Richelson said of Kerr's appointment. "Things seemed to be running well under Isham, even though she was not a technologist. Morale seemed to be going back up."

Richelson should know. His latest book, "The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology," is due out in bookstores next month. In it, he chronicles the rise and eventual dismemberment of the DS&T, which developed the U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft and the nation's first fleet of spy satellites in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richelson said it isn't immediately clear to him why Tenet picked Kerr, a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He also noted that the directorate's Office of Advanced Information Technology, created in October, has already been disbanded and its responsibilities turned over to the CIA's new chief information officer. Richelson called it "almost a quantum office."

CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said Tenet wants Isham to improve morale at NIMA and views Kerr as "a world-class scientist" who can help restore the DS&T luster. "It sounds like a win-win to me," he said.

NEW BLOOD: The National Security Agency recently named four new outsiders to top jobs at Fort Meade, continuing Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden's push for outside talent. The most interesting among them may be Riley Purdue, an executive at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), as chief of signals intelligence (SIGINT) requirements in the newly created Directorate of Signals Intelligence.

Purdue will be responsible for taking requests for information and telling NSA technicians how to go about getting it.

The other three appointees are:

• Richard G. Turner, former information technology executive at the Federal Trade Commission, who becomes the agency's new chief information officer.

• Michael G. Lawrence, former director of intergovernmental affairs at the District's Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, who becomes director of legislative affairs.

• William E. Vajda, a former information systems official at the IRS, who becomes deputy director for information technology and infrastructure services.


© 2001 The Washington Post Company