A former CIA field officer says the Bush administration's reforms of the intelligence community have made it more difficult to prevent terrorist operations.
Speaking to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, Jack Rice, now an on-air personality at Air America radio, said the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center and the office of the Director of National Intelligence in the years after the 9/11 attacks means that information is being shuffled around too many different offices and agencies.
"The problem with that is sometimes you may not get the context of that information," Rice said. "So they only get pieces of it. When you break this up into so many moving parts -- and there are already incredible numbers of moving parts -- you sort of misunderstand how the entire process works. So now they're having to cobble it back together, and try to come up with an answer, and they're still failing at that."
Olbermann cited a 2005 essay (PDF) by National Counterterrorism Center Deputy Director Russell Travers, which argued that the Bush-era reforms "severed the collection of the data from the analysis of the data."
"Are we on the road to 'fixing' intelligence, or are we at risk of making it worse?" the essay asked. "In truth, either outcome is entirely possible."
Rice also said the Bush administration wasn't "as concerned about quality" of information. "Hence, they were willing to waterboard somebody 183 times in one month."
Rice cited the phenomenon of "garbage in, garbage out" -- if your intelligence is faulty or misunderstood, you can't take proper steps to ensure security.
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Jan. 7, 2010.