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At Least Jami Miscik Gets a Traditionally Powerless Administration Job

In the days after the 2008 election, I fretted over the inclusion of a former senior CIA official named Jami Miscik on the Obama transition team’s intelligence desk. Why? This is why:

Miscik, you see, was head of intelligence analysis during the 2002 turmoil over Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent ties to Al Qaeda, and according to the 2004 Senate intelligence committee report about what went wrong, she pretty much disgraced herself. When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein’s relationship to Al Qaeda, Miscik blocked the skeptics (who were later vindicated) within the CIA’s Mideast analytical directorate, and instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to “stretch to the maximum the evidence you had.”

The good news is that Miscik initially ended up without an administration position. And as the pieces of the Obama administration have fallen into place, it’s remained true — until today. Because the administration just announced the members of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Miscik is on it. Not that that’s so bad.

Why? Because the board traditionally doesn’t really do much of anything. While the president can make it anything he wants, typically the board is called in to provide a broad overview of the intelligence community’s performance, rather than substantial or detailed work on pressing or even long-term intelligence issues. It’s a job that does little more than show respect for foreign policy mandarins and graybeards. Miscik might go on to a different administration job, but for now she’s effectively marginalized. If Obama wants real advise on intelligence, he’s going to ask John Brennan to step into the Oval. Nothing here changes that.

The other members of the board? Roel Campos, Lee Hamilton (former mentor to top Obama White House aide Ben Rhodes), Rita Hauser, Paul Kaminski, Ellen Laipson and Les Lyles. It’s chaired by two former senators, Chuck Hagel and David Boren.

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