Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Richard Posner's new book on security bureaucracy reform

I attended a book reception last night for Judge Richard A. Posner - his second book on intelligence reform, Uncertain Shield: The US intelligence system in the throes of reform, is just out now from Rowman and Littlefield, a book in the quite exciting Hoover Institution politics series edited by Tod Lindberg and Peter Berkowitz. That series also includes Juliet Eilperin's Fight Club Politics, Shuel Bar's Warrant for Terror: Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad, and Judge Posner's first book on intelligence and security, Preventing Surprise Attacks. It should also soon include a book by Jack Goldsmith on the laws of war and terrorism, and a book by me on global governance, the international system, and UN reform.

But Judge Posner spoke on the topic of the book, and was quite soberingly pessimistic on the (lack of) progress made in reforming the US intelligence system. He viewed the Department of Homeland Security as a disaster, and the creation of the Director of National Intelligence - Negroponte's position - as the imposition of another rapidly morphing (1500 direct employees and counting) layer of bureaucracy between intelligence gathering and analysis and policymakers.

I am just starting to read the book, but it is not at all encouraging.

(Update, May 16. The book is relentlessly rational, utterly damning in even-keeled, un-emoting prose. Just evidence, argumentation, and conclusions. It deserves a wide, wide reading in policy, journalistic, and governmental circles. Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Judge Posner that captures some of the discussion.)

No comments: