High praise to David Ignatius for his Aug. 29 op-ed, "Spying: Time to Think Outside the Box." That several Senate intelligence committee members believe that the CIA should be replaced with something better is a great way to get national policymakers to expand their thinking. Bold, even radical, thinking might produce the best solutions for bringing intelligence capabilities to where they ought to be in a rapidly changing world.

Thinking outside the box is rare in the federal bureaucracy, though some may recall that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) introduced a draft bill, the End of the Cold War Act of 1991, that would have abolished the CIA and turned its most vital functions over to the State Department. Senators of both parties reacted with such indignation that the bill died in infancy. Perhaps Moynihan was ahead of his time.

Now, with the world growing more restive, more fragile and brutally terrorized, the intelligence arm of our government seems to be seriously deficient. In the White House, in Congress and throughout intelligence circles, some people will dig in their heels against far-reaching change with less than sturdy reasons such as blind loyalty to the past. They must be converted.



The writer worked for 30 years at the CIA and for 10 years as an adjunct at the Defense Intelligence College.