Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Acting CIA Chief Opposes Creation of a National Director of Intelligence to Oversee Agencies
WASHINGTON — Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin yesterday reiterated his opposition to the creation of a national director of intelligence — an intelligence reform proposal expected to be included in a report set to be released later this week by the U.S. commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (see GSN, July 15).
While a “good argument” could be made for the creation of an intelligence “czar” to oversee the entire U.S. intelligence community, such a proposal “doesn’t relate particularly to the world I live in,” McLaughlin said on Fox News Sunday.
He also said that the new position would needlessly create “an additional layer of bureaucracy.”
Instead, McLaughlin said that he believed the director of the Central Intelligence Agency was already empowered to act as a national director of intelligence under the National Security Act of 1947. That legislation established the CIA as the “primary civilian intelligence-gathering organization in the government,” according a U.S. State Department fact sheet.
“I think, with some modest changes in the way the CIA is set up, the director of Central Intelligence could carry out that function well and appropriately,” McLaughlin said.
Calls for creating a national director of intelligence have increased as the CIA has come under criticism for errors made in preventing the Sept. 11 attacks and in prewar intelligence on Iraq. Following the release earlier this month of a highly critical report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the flaws in intelligence on Iraq’s alleged WMD efforts, a group of U.S. senators introduced legislation that would establish a national director of intelligence that would be separate from the CIA and would have full authority over the entire intelligence community.
The Sept. 11 commission is also expected to call for establishing the intelligence czar, according to the New York Times. The Times also reported today that members of the commission plan to make a number of public appearances both on Capitol Hill and outside of Washington over the next several months to push for intelligence reform.
On Friday, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2004 presidential election, included the creation of Cabinet-level director of national intelligence among several intelligence reform proposals.
“As president, I will move quickly to ensure that our intelligence services are operating at the highest possible level. Intelligence services play an absolutely essential role in identifying potential terrorists and terrorist threats so we can act before it is too late,” Kerry said in a statement.
Kerry also proposed new measures to improve coordination among the various U.S. intelligence agencies, such as through the creation of “issue-oriented task forces.” In addition, he also said that he would seek to improve clandestine intelligence-gathering capabilities and that he would improve domestic intelligence capabilities within the FBI.
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