President-elect Barack Obama faces a dilemma in selecting his top intelligence advisers: finding experienced leaders who understand the challenges facing the various U.S. intelligence agencies — but who are untainted by the controversies and problems that have plagued the intelligence apparatus during the Bush era.
By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 3, 2008; Page A02
Obama, who announced much of his national security team Monday, has signaled his intention to end controversial policies on detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects. Yet the nation’s next intelligence leaders will face far more vexing demands. At the top of the list are improving intelligence collection and analysis, and streamlining an unwieldy structure — all without further damaging morale.
Prominent voices in the intelligence community and the Obama camp have argued that a seasoned professional is needed when the country is waging two wars and a campaign against terrorism, and that a newcomer would face an excessively steep learning curve.
“An outsider will get eaten alive,” said Amy Zegart, an associate professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and a former security adviser to both the Clinton administration and President Bush‘s 2000 transition team. “The next CIA director has to walk a fine line between taming the building and transforming it. He’s got to ….