Bill Would Give CIA More Power Overseas
Legislation Covers All Human Intelligence
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 7, 2005; Page A04
The CIA would be given authority to coordinate all human intelligence
activities overseas, including those carried out by Pentagon and FBI
personnel, under legislation proposed by the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence in the fiscal 2006 intelligence authorization
At a time when the CIA appears to be losing its preeminence in clandestine
operations abroad, the House panel suggested language in the bill that it
said was designed to clarify roles of the CIA director and the new director
of national intelligence (DNI) regarding the collection of human
intelligence outside the United States "by any department, agency or
element" of the U.S. government.
In the past, the CIA has exercised similar authority in most cases, but the
House panel decided to try to put that into law as a result of increased
overseas operations by many government agencies, and reports that several
Pentagon teams had been found operating overseas without the knowledge of
Under the House committee proposal, CIA Director Porter J. Goss would
develop a process for coordinating clandestine human intelligence activities
overseas, but it would be "subject to the approval of the DNI," John D.
Negroponte, according to the panel's report, made available yesterday.
The House panel also revived a proposal that would limit Negroponte's
authority to transfer Pentagon or other intelligence specialists within the
intelligence community. Under the current law, Negroponte must provide
prompt notice of any transfer only to the appropriate congressional
Under the proposal, he could not make such a transfer until he had informed
the committees with proper jurisdiction, "and received a response."
Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the ranking minority member on the committee, and
other Democrats described the proposal as "a pocket veto" of the DNI's
personnel transfer authority in additional views printed in the report. They
said they opposed the provision and noted that when the same language was
proposed in the Defense Department's fiscal 2006 authorization bill in
March, a DNI spokesman opposed it.
Harman and the others warned that if the provision is not changed, they will
move to strike it when the bill reaches the House floor, "and we believe we
will be successful."
In another action, the House panel said it made "significant" reductions in
"expensive technical collection systems," which congressional sources
described as new large satellites. Money saved from redirecting satellite
spending was aimed at increasing "human intelligence and analysis," the
committee said in its report.
The panel said the intelligence community "has resisted terminating even
badly flawed major systems acquisitions," a reference to multibillion-dollar
satellites that in the past have been criticized by members of the Senate
The panel report, which keeps classified the overall amount proposed for
next year's intelligence activities -- said to be in excess of $41 billion
-- does note authorizing $446 million in an account that is to be the
"principal source of funding" for Negroponte's new team. The Congressional
Budget Office estimates $268 million in costs next year, according to the
House panel report.