The Pentagon confirmed it would be establishing a new intelligence agency, the Defense Clandestine Service, meant to work with the CIA, that would establish spy networks to monitor long-term threats to U.S. national security interests, pointing to places like Iran and North Korea. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the program Friday. Panetta previously served as the head of the CIA and the intelligence agency’s current director, David Petraeus, previously served as the Commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The DCS would bring the federal government’s intelligence agency total to 17**.
Officials indicated the new agency would not need Congressional approval, though the move was “communicated” to members of Congress, and that it created no new authorities. The creation of the DCS seems like a bureaucratic shuffle, with Defense officials complaining about losing talented intelligence officers to agencies like the CIA that provide more opportunities for career growth.
America’s intelligence agencies have a long history of executing and affecting U.S. foreign policy. The Iranian threat cited as among the targets of the Defense Clandestine Services traces its beginnings to 1953, when the CIA backed a coup by the Shah against the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq. That coup paved the way for the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that brought the Ayatollahs to power. Today’s clandestine operations will have similarly unpredictable consequences in the future.
Instead of reflecting and reorganizing in the face of dwindling financial resources and evolving threats, the Department of Defense is affixing another agency onto a national security apparatus still plagued by the lack of communication that some say could have prevented 9/11 and that served as the impetus for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy in the first place.
**The 16 federal intelligence agencies are: the CIA, the FBI, and, in the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Marine Corps Intelligence Agency, and the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis the Coast Guard Intelligence, the Drug Enforcement Agdministration's Office of National Security Intelligence, the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and the Energy Department's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence