Saturday, February 24, 2007

Richard Lehman, CIA's Great Bureaucrat

The Times posts the obit for Richard Lehman:

Mr. Lehman created the President’s Intelligence Check List (referred to as the “pickle”) in 1961, after President Kennedy complained of being overwhelmed by intelligence memorandums, many duplicating material while sometimes leaving out vital information.

“Kennedy’s enthusiastic response to the PICL ensured that it became an agency institution,” Richard Kovar, a C.I.A. analyst, wrote in 2000, in an introduction to an interview he conducted with Mr. Lehman for “Studies in Intelligence,” the C.I.A.’s quarterly in-house journal. “For many years thereafter, Lehman played a key role in supervising the agency’s current intelligence support for the White House, including briefings of presidential candidates.”

One of the jobs of bureaucratic innovators is to create the forms and formats through which people can communicate. Presumably Truman and Ike had had regular briefings on intelligence material, but the process of daily briefings using a prescribed format took a while to evolve. How many mistakes were made when decisions were made based on misunderstanding of the data, or the data never reached the President?

Moving to today's world, did Bush and Cheney know about the rules for National Intelligence Estimates--did Tenet ever have a training session with them or did everyone just assume that everyone knew the rules? (I suspect the latter.)

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