REORG: How Not to Fix American Intelligence

It would be wise for our sprawling, seventeen-agency Intelligence Community to be cautious about sweeping reorganizations.

With an unusual degree of public fanfare, the super-secret National Security Agency has just announced its first significant reorganization since the 1990s. While NSA’s core missions, which include providing Washington, D.C. with the lion’s share of the intelligence in our Federal government, are not changing, how the agency is structured is about to undergo profound change.

Termed NSA21, this two-year recasting will dramatically shift how the agency does business. In particular, the core missions of signals intelligence and information assurance will be blended in a new organization termed the Directorate of Operations. Since NSA’s birth in 1952, SIGINT has been the main business out at Fort Meade, the agency headquarters nested in the Maryland suburbs between Baltimore and the nation’s capital.

Cracking foreign codes has always taken up the majority of NSA’s budget and resources while the information assurance mission, which tries to prevent foreign intelligence from cracking our codes, including our nuclear command and control, has been something of an also-ran, bureaucratically speaking, despite its enormous importance to our national security.

Read the rest at the New York Observer