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Rumsfeld Moves to Strengthen His Grip on Military Intel

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Rumsfeld Moves to Strengthen His Grip on Military Intelligence

By JAMES RISEN and THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is moving to strengthen his control over the military's intelligence apparatus, and his first step has been to propose a civilian post reporting directly to him to manage the vast and expensive operation.

His effort to establish a new position, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, potentially sets up a turf war for dominance over the American intelligence community.

A senior Defense Department official familiar with the secretary's thinking on intelligence matters said earlier this week that Mr. Rumsfeld was "not fighting for turf for turf's sake."

"He's an organizational man," the official said. "He wants these agencies to match functions and missions," with a single civilian official to coordinate the Pentagon's many intelligence holdings.

Many officials say they expect Mr. Rumsfeld's special adviser on intelligence policy, Richard L. Haver, to be named to the post, which would be the highest-ranking intelligence position in the Pentagon, if Congress approves it. Mr. Haver, who also has close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been in charge of developing the reorganization plan on behalf of Mr. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Haver, a longtime naval intelligence officer who was Mr. Cheney's special assistant for intelligence when he was defense secretary, was in charge of intelligence policy for the Bush administration's transition team.

Many people in the intelligence community say they believe that although he was on the transition team, Mr. Haver had urged that the administration replace George J. Tenet as C.I.A. director. Mr. Haver insisted in an interview that he was never asked for his recommendation.

Still, Mr. Haver's central role in the reorganization has led some people to interpret Mr. Rumsfeld's proposals as a contest with Mr. Tenet for dominance over American intelligence operations.

In an interview today, Mr. Haver emphasized that the creation of the senior position at the Pentagon was intended to try to make it easier for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to work together. Mr. Rumsfeld "doesn't want us to do George's job," Mr. Haver said, speaking of Mr. Tenet.

"He wants us to support George," he added.

Mr. Haver also made it clear that he was uncertain whether Mr. Rumsfeld would select him for the new position and that he did not know whether he would accept it if he was chosen.

Mr. Rumsfeld's efforts to consolidate his hold over military intelligence — an enormous bureaucracy that includes the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the intelligence branches of the individual military services — carries important implications for the whole intelligence community.

Military intelligence accounts for nearly 80 percent of the overall intelligence budget.

The job of director of the Defense Intelligence Agency has been vacant, filled by an acting director, and Mr. Rumsfeld's delay in permanently filling the post is another sign of his strategy to strengthen control over intelligence matters.

It is the military that buys the nation's spy satellites and surveillance aircraft and builds its ground listening stations that enable the United States to peer down on enemy armies from space or eavesdrop on telephone calls among terrorists.

When Mr. Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon last year after 25 years' absence, he was deeply frustrated that there seemed to be little central coordination over the military intelligence bureaucracy, his advisers said.

Mr. Haver recalled that when Mr. Rumsfeld held a meeting to discuss what intelligence was lost after a Navy E-P3 surveillance plane had made a crash landing in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter in April 2001, officials from 11 military intelligence offices crowded in. Mr. Haver said that after that experience Mr. Rumsfeld complained that he wanted "one dog to kick" on intelligence.

" `Right now, I have a whole kennel,' " Mr. Haver said Mr. Rumsfeld complained to him at the time.

Currently, most major military agencies report to the defense secretary and the director of central intelligence in a system that one official called a "federation."

Mr. Haver said creation of the new undersecretary's post would not erode the responsibility of those agencies to report to the C.I.A. director.

"In its simplest form," he said, "what you will have is an executive committee of the secretary of defense and the D.C.I. overseeing the intelligence community."

Still, Mr. Rumsfeld's reorganization plan would seem to run counter to a proposal by a commission headed by Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser, that called for enhancing the power of the C.I.A. director by giving him broader budget authority over the intelligence community, including at least some elements of military intelligence.

The C.I.A. director supposedly now has responsibility for the entire intelligence community, but controls just the C.I.A. budget, which is $4 billion or $5 billion of a total intelligence budget of well over $30 billion.

The new post, by consolidating the defense secretary's power over intelligence, would appear to make it far less likely that the C.I.A. director could gain expanded budget powers.

Many people in the Pentagon intelligence system say they are also hearing rumblings of a broader reorganization in their agencies, particularly the Defense Intelligence Agency. But that is something that Mr. Rumsfeld's aides say is for next year or even later.

His delay in naming a permanent director for the agency is said to have frustrated the retiring director, Vice Adm. Thomas R. Wilson. Other people there say they are wondering whether their agency may be split up.

Mr. Rumsfeld is waiting to move further on his reorganization until Congress approves the creation of the new undersecretary position, officials said.

The position would elevate intelligence to the level of the four other powerful Pentagon undersecretaries, the comptroller and the undersecretaries for acquisition, personnel and policy.

The proposal has not met any significant opposition on Capitol Hill, mostly because few lawmakers had become aware of it.

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said any decision on the new position should await hearings on how best to organize the entire intelligence community.

"It was not part of the hearings of Armed Services or Intelligence," Mr. Graham said. "It was offered as a floor amendment during consideration of the defense authorization bill. My preference would be to defer that issue until our joint inquiry looks at the totality of organization for the intelligence community."

U.S. News and World Report is also reporting this weekend on its Web site the broad outlines of a reorganization plan.

Mr. Rumsfeld is trying to reorganize military intelligence as officials say he has grown frustrated with the quality of military intelligence, particularly in the early phases of the war last year in Afghanistan. Unlike the C.I.A. and F.B.I., military intelligence had not made terrorism an intelligence priority before Sept. 11, and that weakness showed after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, officials said.

Mr. Rumsfeld is said to have been disappointed that it was the C.I.A.'s paramilitary operatives who introduced American Special Forces troops to Afghan tribal warlords when the war began. The C.I.A. had connections that the Pentagon's intelligence agencies lacked.

That factor reportedly reinforced views that Mr. Rumsfeld had earlier, when he headed independent commissions studying intelligence-related issues, including space and the ballistic-missile threat.

"He came to believe that the nation had weak and anemic intelligence capabilities," a senior Defense Department official said. "So when he came back to this job, he felt the need to improve intelligence capabilities across the board."

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