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Obama, McCain eye better use of spies
Effective intelligence forces are needed for dealing with the threats facing the country in the coming decade and “we cannot degrade those capabilities,” Mr. Brennan said.
The Illinois Democrat has said he would seek to strengthen intelligence with better leadership and limit the director of national intelligence to a fixed term to cut the influence of partisan politics.
One Obama proposal is to create a “Shared Security Partnership Program” as an international intelligence and law-enforcement infrastructure targeting terrorist networks. The program would spend $5 billion over three years to improve counterterrorism cooperation around the world.
Mr. Obama believes in using both military “hard” force as well as “soft power,” Mr. Brennan said.
All intelligence activities under an Obama administration would be “consistent with U.S. law,” he added. CIA waterboarding or other questionable practices are “not going to be allowed under an Obama presidency,” Mr. Brennan said.
Mr. Obama also is “emphatic” that intelligence activities be supported by all three branches of government, Mr. Brennan said.
For example, electronic foreign intelligence surveillance and covert action “cannot be done by a single branch of government,” Mr. Brennan said. Both Congress and the courts must oversee those activities, he said.
Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, also objects to waterboarding and other rough interrogation techniques as a violation of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture.
A senior McCain adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of political sensitivities, said Mr. McCain also would seek to reduce excessive bureaucracy spawned by the office of the director of national intelligence (DNI), which grew out of the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission.
“The 9/11 commission never envisioned a DNI structure that was a massive bureaucracy in and of itself,” the adviser said. “It was meant to be a coordinating structure. I think it’s fair to say that the current DNI structure goes considerably beyond what the 9/11 commission recommended. It now has 3,000 people.”
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
By Matt Kibbe
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