President Obama did a smart thing Wednesday by picking University of Oklahoma President David Boren to co-lead a panel that will advise him on intelligence-related matters. Obama would be wise to heed the advice Boren’s group provides.
A couple of things stand out about the selection of Boren to co-chair of Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board. First, the former chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence will be able to counsel the president on subjects he knows well, such as assessing the performance of various U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies since 9/11 prompted a number of structural changes. "Part of our task will be to see how well the system is digesting these changes,” Boren said. Second, he won’t have to quit his day job. Boren’s new assignment is part time and unpaid. Inescapable is a sense Obama is rewarding Boren for his early support last year in Obama’s campaign for the White House. Still, the work Boren will put in with co-chair Chuck Hagel, another former senator, potentially could be valuable to Obama and the country — if the president takes heed. Boren’s experience and moderate politics are a good fit for advising in an area that truly is nonpartisan — developing the structures and strategies to make sure the United States understands threats and trends in today’s world. The appointment also is a good thing for Oklahoma: visibility for a state that didn’t support Obama last year but which can offer the talents of a career public servant to benefit the greater good.