A G.O.P. Senator Proposes a Plan to Split Up C.I.A.
By PHILIP SHENON
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Published: August 23, 2004
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 - The Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence
committee said Sunday that he would propose legislation to break up the
Central Intelligence Agency and divide its responsibilities among three
new spy agencies.
The plan would eliminate the Pentagon's direct control over the National
Security Agency and create a post of national intelligence director with
virtually complete control over the government's $40 billion annual
The sweeping proposal, by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, which would
also provide the national intelligence director with budget authority
over counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs of the F.B.I.,
goes far beyond the recommendations of the independent Sept. 11
Aides to Senator Roberts said he had obtained support in principle from
eight of nine Republicans on the intelligence committee and would
present it Monday to the White House and to members of the Sept. 11
commission, whose final report has prompted President Bush and lawmakers
to rush to overhaul the way the nation gathers and shares intelligence.
The plan is certain to be fiercely opposed by the C.I.A., which would
cease to exist, its responsibilities shifted elsewhere and its name
probably eliminated; by the Pentagon, which would have to cede control
over the N.S.A. and other defense intelligence agencies that it long
described as essential to the military; and by several influential
members of Congress who have warned against any drastic restructuring of
the nation's intelligence community.
"Our bill is real reform, and it's the right thing to do," Mr. Roberts
said in a statement announcing the bill, which he titled the "9/11
National Security Protection Act." "We cannot allow turf battles to
define this debate. No one agency, no matter how distinguished its
history, is more important than U.S. national security."
A White House spokesman, Brian Besanceney, did not comment on the
specifics of Senator Roberts's proposal but said, "We welcome ideas from
members of Congress and will continue to work with Congress to
accomplish the shared goal of intelligence reform and will look forward
to reviewing the details of Senator Roberts's plan."
A C.I.A. spokesman said the agency would not comment until it saw
details of Mr. Roberts's plan.
But a senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said: "The proposal is unworkable and would hamper rather than enhance
the nation's intelligence efforts at a critical time. It doesn't make
The official added, "Rather than bringing intelligence disciplines
together it smashes them apart."
Mr. Roberts's proposal brought a mixed reaction from Democrats. Rand
Beers, a national security adviser to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic
presidential candidate, said in a statement that Mr. Kerry welcomed the
plan and that it was similar to proposals from Mr. Kerry, who has
embraced all of the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission,
including creation of a powerful job of national intelligence director.
But Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is a member of the
intelligence committee and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed
Services Committee, offered immediate resistance, saying it was a
mistake for Senator Roberts to move on overhauling the intelligence
community without obtaining the support of Democrats.
"It's a mistake to begin with a partisan bill no matter what is in it,"
Mr. Levin said on the CBS program "Face the Nation." While not directly
criticizing Mr. Roberts's plan, Mr. Levin, who has expressed skepticism
over some of the major recommendations made by the Sept. 11 commission,
said, "I think it's better to start on a bipartisan basis with a
Aides to Mr. Roberts said he had obtained support for the plan from all
of the Republicans on the intelligence committee except Senator John
Warner of Virginia, who is also chairman of the Armed Services
Mr. Warner suggested in comments last week that he feared that lawmakers
were moving hastily in restructuring the intelligence community and that
it might be dangerous for the Pentagon to lose control over intelligence
agencies needed by soldiers on the battlefield.
But another Republican on the committee, Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio,
said in a telephone interview Sunday that he supported Mr. Roberts's
"My understanding is that it has good support on the committee based on
the informal conversations I have had with members over the last several
weeks," he said. "This bill matches, I think, the desires of the vast
majority of the members of the Senate intelligence committee to address
the longstanding problems.''
Shawna Stribling, spokeswoman for Senator Christopher S. Bond of
Missouri, another Republican on the committee, said Mr. Bond supported
the legislation and believed it would "help prevent another 9/11."
According to a statement released by Mr. Roberts outlining his bill, the
legislation would make these changes:
¶Establish the office of national intelligence director, who would have
even more authority than was envisioned by the 9/11 commission in its
final report. The intelligence director would have "complete budget and
personnel authority, including hiring and firing authority," over the
government's spy operations, including "the national intelligence
collection agencies currently residing in the Department of Defense."
The Pentagon's spy services include the National Security Agency, which
gathers intelligence through satellites and other electronic
¶Break up the C.I.A. into three parts: a National Clandestine Service,
which would direct traditional human spy operations; an Office of
National Assessments, which would be responsible for intelligence
analysis; and an Office of Technical Support, which would be responsible
for research and development projects. The new agencies would report to
the national intelligence director through a small team of deputies.
¶Remove the Defense Intelligence Agency's human-intelligence spy
operations from the Pentagon and establish them as an independent
agency, also under the control of the national intelligence director.
¶Provide the national intelligence director, through one of his
assistants, with "direct control over the F.B.I.'s counterintelligence
and counterterrorism units," which would continue to operate within the
F.B.I. "for administration and support purposes and would still be
subject to attorney general guidelines."
¶Provide the national intelligence director with "complete budget and
personnel authority over the intelligence units of Treasury, Energy,
Homeland Security, State Department and the remaining analytical
elements of the C.I.A." Those agencies would "report to their home
agencies on a day-to-day basis to maintain their analytical
Also appearing on CBS, Senator Roberts said he and the bill's other
Republican supporters "just sort of stepped back from the trees and,
instead of worrying about boxes and agencies and turf, just said, What
would you put together now that really represents an answer to what the
9/11 commission has recommended and what our Senate report has
He was referring to the intelligence committee's blistering report made
public last month that found that the C.I.A. had misrepresented the
intelligence that the Bush administration used to take the nation to war
in Iraq last year.
"I expect a lot of debate, should be a lot of debate," Mr. Roberts said,
adding that he was open to rethinking parts of his legislation. "It is
not a tablet, you know, coming down from a mountain, written in stone."
Courtney C. Radsch contributed reporting for this article.