… if the FBI’s top counterterrorism people knew the difference between Sunni and Shi’a? Or, at least, if they, or their bosses, cared whether they knew? Contempt for “subject matter knowledge” has costs.
For some purposes, the arrogant, insular culture J. Edgar Hoover built for the Bureau is a feature. For this purpose, it’s a bug, and probably not a fixable bug. Giving the Director of National Intelligence more authority, as Bush just did, might help. But I doubt it will help much. The Bureau has a long history of successfully resisting oversight by its nominal parent agency, the Department of Justice. (When I worked at DoJ, and as far as I know to this day, the Bureau routinely issued press releases starting with the phrase: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in cooperation with the United States Department of Justice …” as if the FBI was independent of the DoJ.)
Of course, putting someone with a history as a cover-up artist in charge of a chunk of the FBI raises its own set of problems, but that’s a different story.