Friday, October 14, 2005

Negroponte Creates New Spying Service

Inevitable, given that the CIA is so riddled with moles. However, it appears this new agency will not, in fact, do much of anything. More at the Christian Science Monitor.


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Negroponte creates new spying service
But some wonder if new agency, and CIA's retention of human intelligence, are result of backroom deal.
By Tom Regan |
National Intelligence Director John Negroponte Thursday announced the creation of the National Clandestine Service. The Chicago Tribune reports that the new office will be a part of the Central Intelligence Agency and the CIA's director, Porter Goss, will become "national human intelligence manager" while the daily operations of the new office will be run by an undercover officer who has been called "Jose."

The creation of the spy coordination unit and Goss' role in heading it are certain to boost morale at the Central Intelligence Agency, which came in for heavy criticism following intelligence failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the Iraq war. The CIA has lost a number of senior personnel since the arrival of Goss, a former Florida congressman and one-time CIA officer, who took over in September 2004.

"For the CIA, this is a big deal," said one senior intelligence official. "It's really a recognition of their expertise."

CNN reports that Mr. Negroponte called the creation of the office "another positive step in building an intelligence community that is more unified, coordinated and effective..."

"The NCS will serve as the national authority for the integration, coordination, de-confliction and evaluation of human intelligence operations across the entire intelligence community," Negroponte said in a news release. The head of the NCS ["Jose"] will set the government-wide standards for spy tradecraft and training, including how to check out the reliability of a potential foreign agent.

But The New York Times reports that the new office, which was supposed to provide more coordination of spying operations, will have limited authority. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Defense Department, meanwhile, will be free to "carry out an increasing array of human intelligence missions without central operational control, two senior intelligence officials said Thursday."

The Times also reports that key Republican leaders in the US Senate are not entirely happy with the new arrangement. Sen. Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committe, called the new office a "negotiated settlement" between the various agencies.

Roberts expressed reservations about "this latest reorganization," saying he would have preferred that Negroponte exert his authority to "manage human intelligence collection worldwide."

The limited power to be granted to "Jose" underscores the degree to which the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA have retained considerable autonomy even under the new system headed by Negroponte. His job as director of national intelligence was created as part of an effort to impose more central control over intelligence agencies. "We won't tell the FBI how to do their business, and we don't tell the DOD how to do their business," one of the two senior intelligence officials said of the role to be played by the CIA.

The Washington Post reports that the plan for the CIA to control the office, and ultimately retain its often criticized role as chief coordinator of overseas spying and "human intelligence," was drafted by Mr. Goss, on the basis of a suggestion made last March by the Silberman-Robb commission, a Congressional panel appointed by President Bush to report on national intelligence. The commission issued a scathing 618-page report on intelligence failures and shortcomings.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, however, citing past CIA failures in averting 9/11 and in overstating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, had wanted oversight over human intelligence to be put under the control of Negroponte. But the Post reports that this would have demoralized an already beleaguered institution.

If the coordinating "role had not remained in CIA, it would have been bad for agency morale, which already is down," a former senior intelligence official said yesterday. "Despite the recent faults of CIA, it is more disciplined and sophisticated on human intelligence than elsewhere" in the intelligence community, he said.

Washington Times columnist John B. Roberts II describes the backroom deals that led to the creation of the National Clandestine Service. He writes that Goss, by making a "stunning about-face" to reject the recommendation of his inspector general, John Helgerson, to discipline three former senior officials – Director George Tenet, Deputy Director of Operations James L. Pavitt, and counterterrorist center head J. Cofer Black – averted a crisis for the White House and probably led to the decision to leave the control over human intelligence with the CIA. When Goss had been in Congress, he had been among those crying the loudest for the CIA to "investigate and disclose" intelligence failures.

But columnist Roberts says Mr. Tenet was not prepared to go quietly, and had let it be known that if he became the "Sept. 11 fall guy" he would write a tell-all memoir that would deeply embarrass the White House.

Goss, who is no political virgin, understood that Mr. Tenet's fate, the future of the CIA and Mr. Goss's own directorship were intimately linked. Mr. Negroponte had the power to give the CIA human-intelligence management, and Mr. Goss had the power to bury the [his inspector general's] report. In case Mr. Goss misunderstood this linkage, key Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence sent Mr. Goss a message by urging Mr. Negroponte to take human-intelligence programs management away from CIA. This would have meant a crushing defeat for Mr. Goss personally and a serious loss of prestige for the CIA. Insiders say Mr. Goss was ready to resign if CIA lost its fifty-year hegemony over human spying operations on his watch ...

In exchange for burying the Helgerson report and its potential for political embarrassment, Goss has salvaged the CIA's standing in the intelligence community.

Roberts concludes by saying that the CIA has already moved on to its next problem – concerns that there is a Chinese "mole" in the spy agency.

6:59 PM  

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