The news media is abuzz with reports of the ongoing public confrontation between President-elect Trump and members of the intelligence community, particularly outgoing CIA Director Brennan. Alarms are being sounded over the danger posed by an incoming president in confrontation with his own intelligence agencies, and who publicly questions the value of the intelligence they provide. Dire predictions are being made about the implications of this widening schism and the price we may pay down the road.

Many of the questions posed are without doubt legitimate. A president and his intelligence advisors must work hand-in-glove, and it is imperative that a president have confidence in the sensitive intelligence he is provided. Lost in all the back and forth of Twitter exchanges and the president’s daily brief, however, is one inescapable and critical truth: The quality of the intelligence we are producing, particularly our human intelligence, is not what it must be, and it has not been so for a very long time.

This is not a reflection on the men and women of our intelligence agencies, particularly those in my former organization, the CIA. They work long hours under often dangerous conditions for mediocre pay and little or no recognition. They perform miracles everyday. Nonetheless, due to systemic and bureaucratic factors outside their control, they all too often come up short and we operate without the vital inside information we so desperately need.

Out there on the horizon, dark clouds are gathering. The Chinese, who have seized the entire South China Sea and waged economic war on us for decades, are girding to resist any efforts on our part to redress the strategic balance. Russia, emboldened and surging into every vacuum we leave in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, will not quietly climb back in its box and allow us to reassert our primacy. Iran, flush with cash and sensing a chance to dominate the entire Middle East, has no intention of squandering this opportunity or backing down. Across the planet, terrorist groups with apocalyptic world views are acting with the certain knowledge that these are the final days before the Mahdi comes and final victory is achieved.

The way ahead as we attempt to recover from the unprecedented foreign policy debacle brought on by the Obama administration is perilous. Only with the aid of high-quality human intelligence will we navigate it successfully.

To do so, the Trump administration must move quickly and decisively to address the factors that are strangling our espionage capabilities. This is no time for half measures, nor is it time for us to continue the failed policies of the past, throwing people, money and process at a business that is fundamentally about none of those.

Eliminate the office of the Director of National Intelligence. This was a bad idea when first conceived. It has been made infinitely worse by the ballooning size of what is now a gargantuan bureaucratic edifice sitting above all the other intelligence agencies, adding nothing but paperwork and micromanagement. Transfer the responsibility for overseeing the intelligence community back to the CIA. It is called the Central Intelligence Agency for a reason.

Roll back the “reforms” Director Brennan instituted at the CIA. I have no doubt Director Brennan is a dedicated public servant and acted in good faith. He is also a career, D.C.-based bureaucrat with no idea whatsoever about how operations are run in the field or how the business of espionage really works. All of his efforts to draw new lines on wiring diagrams and shuffle desks at headquarters have contributed nothing. The CIA must be a field-centric organization in which headquarters answers the mail, shovels support forward, and otherwise gets out of the way.