Amy Zegart Guest-Blogging This Week:

I'm delighted to report that Prof. Amy Zegart from the UCLA School of Public Affairs will be guest-blogging from Tuesday to Friday. Amy is one of the nation's leading experts on intelligence reform; she worked on the National Security Council staff in 1993, during the Clinton Administration, and also was a foreign policy advisor to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000. She's also the author of the just-released Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11; here's a brief summary from the book jacket (paragraph break added):

Zegart shows how and why the intelligence system itself left us vulnerable [to 9/11].

Zegart argues that after the Cold War ended, the CIA and FBI failed to adapt to the rise of terrorism. She makes the case by conducting painstaking analysis of more than three hundred intelligence reform recommendations and tracing the history of CIA and FBI counterterrorism efforts from 1991 to 2001, drawing extensively from declassified government documents and interviews with more than seventy high-ranking government officials. She finds that political leaders were well aware of the emerging terrorist danger and the urgent need for intelligence reform, but failed to achieve the changes they sought.

The same forces that have stymied intelligence reform for decades are to blame: resistance inside U.S. intelligence agencies, the rational interests of politicians and career bureaucrats, and core aspects of our democracy such as the fragmented structure of the federal government. Ultimately failures of adaptation led to failures of performance. Zegart reveals how longstanding organizational weaknesses left unaddressed during the 1990s prevented the CIA and FBI from capitalizing on twenty-three opportunities to disrupt the September 11 plot. Spying Blind is a sobering account of why two of America's most important intelligence agencies failed to adjust to new threats after the Cold War, and why they are unlikely to adapt in the future.