IMO the removal of LTG Michael T. Flynn and his civilian deputy is one of the shoddier pieces of Washington intrigue that has been seen around town for some time.
The three big agencies of the US IC are; NSA, CIA and DIA in that order of magnitude. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research does fine work but it has no separate collection operations other than State Department embassy reporting and has no substantial separate existence outside the department. The heads of the three big agencies are true "barons" in terms of resources and function.
The reasons given in the press for Flynn's retirement a year before his term was to end are just nonsenses and excuses constructed to cover a power play within the Obama Administration and the IC itself.
Flynn wanted to change the emphasis in DIA's analytic work against third world targets? So what? It his job to set priorities for the work of his agency. When Clapper was director of DIA he brought a USAF tactical intelligence officer's viewpoint to the job and virtually destroyed DIA's highly developed analytic force by ignoring his statutory responsibility to participate in national level strategic analysis in favor of counting airplanes, tanks, anti-aircraft guns and the like. Seasoned, highly skilled analysts left in droves rather than be made into clerks. Clapper survived that disaster. Flynn is said to have wanted to transfer a lot of DIA's "nuts and bolts" "bean counting" to theater level intelligence centers within DoD? Clapper did the same thing as director and survived. Flynn hurt his subordinates feelings? Anyone who knew Clapper as director would find that amusing. Flynn did not "get along" with Michael Vickers, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence? That may be. Flynn is a three star general. He is not a West Pointer and made his rank the hard way, without benefit of the "Hudson High" alumni club. Vickers was a sergeant in US Army Special Forces for 13 years, finally becoming a captain (his terminal Army rank) before he took an assignment at CIA in Special Operations. Yes, there could be some friction there, but Flynn would not be fired over it. Sy Hersh cited DIA sources in his LRB's article on the Syria controversy? Yes, but how would one know if Hersh's attributions are accurate? It is a common practise in investigative reporting to falsely identify sources in order to protect them. IMO, neither Flynn nor Shedd would be fired for that either.
So, what happened?
CIA lost most of its power to rule the IC for its own benefit a decade ago. It has schemed incessantly ever after to regain that power and IMO to punish its rivals. Now, we have John Brennan, a chrony of the president and a lifelong CIA man in the CIA director's chair. He yearns to get rid of Jim Clapper, the present DNI. Clapper is a retired USAF general and Brennan wants to replace him with someone of the CIA, perhaps himself. Why is that? Simple, it is to the office of the DNI that the CIA's lost powers migrated. Such a change would reverse the outcome of the reforms that created the DNI. Clapper, whatever his faults, knows that this prospect looms. He does not want to see this reversal take place.
At the same time, DIA under Flynn has been a mighty irritant to the policy wonks at the WH and in the NSC staff. DIA has fed General Martin Dempsey the analysis and evidence with which Dempsey has argued to the president against rash behavior in the world as he argued against what "Walrus" called "kicking at the door of hell." Much of that argument has been successful, so it should not be a surprise that the interventionists both in the administration and in the lunatic fringe in Congress want Flynn's scalp.
Is it not likely that faced with an issue of survival in office, Clapper threw Flynn "under the bus?" Hagel has proven to be a "weak reed" in office. Wihout his firm support there is no way that Dempsey could have reisted this outcome successfully. Is it likely that Vickers supported Flynn? What a laughable idea!
LTG Mary Legere is discussed as a possible successor. If she is appointed one can be sure that she will not rock the boat. pl