- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

Some Capitol Hill lawmakers still are not satisfied with an intelligence-reform bill passed last month, and are aiming to further restructure the intelligence community in the 109th Congress.

Complaints of inadequate immigration and oversight reforms were widely publicized leading up to the bill’s passage, and Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss said the issue of inadequate human intelligence gathering and poor information sharing should be top priorities this congressional session.

“Intelligence from human contacts has atrophied so far that it will have to be rebuilt,” Mr. Chambliss said, adding that the vast majority of intelligence failures in the past 10 years were a result of poor or nonexistent human intelligence.

“HUMINT can tell us what the enemy is thinking,” Mr. Chambliss said. “It is a dangerous business, but we must be committed to protecting our borders and our people through good, old-fashioned spying.”

During a speech before specialists at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, on Thursday, Mr. Chambliss candidly said the intelligence community had volumes of information on the September 11 hijackers and the other people involved, but without a man on the inside to “put the pieces together” could do nothing to stop it.

He cited as an example the fact that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi went through a routine traffic stop by police, but authorities weren’t aware of his terrorist activities, nor was his name on the watch list, which would have alerted police to take him into custody.

“Our analysts and policy-makers should be able to get all their information at a central intelligence database,” Mr. Chambliss said. “We need an intelligence Travelocity or Expedia.com.”

A lack of ethnic diversity within the spy agencies also has come up as a priority in the House Select Committee on Intelligence several times. Committee member Rep. Alcee Hastings, Florida Democrat, joked that “James Bond is not going to infiltrate Tora Bora,” and called for more Arab and black spy recruitment within the Central Intelligence Agency, an opinion with which Mr. Chambliss concurs.

“We’re not going to be able to take a white farm boy from Georgia and expect him to be able to get in there and think like these guys. We need one of them,” Mr. Chambliss said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, vowed to have two proposals passed early this session: the first, pushing for a federal driver’s license standard; and the second, preventing suspected terrorists from using “lax” asylum qualifications to avoid deportation. Both were stripped from December’s bill when it got to the Senate.

Others called for streamlined oversight of the intelligence community, including the creation of permanent Homeland Security and Intelligence congressional committees. The September 11 commission report estimates that homeland security officials appeared before 88 different congressional committees and subcommittees because of the disorganization in homeland security oversight.

Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, and Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, said they will reintroduce a bill to create permanent and powerful intelligence and homeland security committees.

Mr. Chambliss and Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, also want to consolidate operations for the director of national intelligence (DNI), a new position created in the reform bill, by creating a second position within the Defense Department, a unified commander for intelligence, to act as a go-between for the DNI and the eight military intelligence agencies.

“I don’t understand how the DNI, a nonmilitary person, can hope to understand and operate eight intelligence agencies with tens of thousands of employees without the internal knowledge of how they work,” Mr. Chambliss said.

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