- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two senior U.S. counterintelligence officials have left positions inside the agency that coordinates America’s efforts to root out foreign spies after an inspector general review identified management problems, government officials said.

Marion E. “Spike” Bowman, a veteran intelligence lawyer for the Navy and FBI, told The Washington Times that he stepped down last month as the No. 2 official inside the National Counterintelligence Executive Office (NCIX) after an inspector general’s management review raised questions about his leadership and ethics issues. Mr. Bowman declined to be more specific.

NCIX chief of staff Robert L. Hubbard also was reassigned to another post in the aftermath of the IG review, officials said. Mr. Hubbard declined to comment through an agency spokesman.

The agency’s chief, National Counterintelligence Executive Joel F. Brenner, told The Times that neither official was dismissed but that it was his decision to prompt the moves. “I felt it was time to make a change in NCIX management,” he said, declining to be more specific because of personnel privacy issues.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the committee was informed that the IG probe had uncovered problems and recommended some management changes inside NCIX.

“We’re going back to take a second look at this as part of our oversight responsibilities,” Mr. Hoekstra said.

Mr. Bowman had been granted a waiver from federal rules to return from his retirement from the Navy and FBI and work for NCIX under contract, officials familiar with the arrangement said. The officials said a decision was made not to renew his contract after the IG issued an eight-page management review of the office. The review raised issues involving management capabilities but did not purport any misconduct or abuses, the officials said.

Mr. Bowman said in an interview that he had planned to leave the agency for months but his departure ultimately was prompted by “ethical issues” uncovered during the IG inquiry. He declined to elaborate. He said his background was mainly working as an intelligence operator and that Mr. Brenner needed a deputy who was a better administrator.

NCIX is a little-known agency that was created under a December 2000 presidential directive in the aftermath of the CIA’s Aldrich Ames spy case. After the FBI’s Robert P. Hanssen spy case in 2001, the office was given greater stature under 2002 law aimed at improving counterspy efforts.

The office is staffed by people from other intelligence agencies. It conducts damage assessments of spy cases and helps coordinate counterintelligence policies.

However, the agency and its leaders cannot direct anti-spying operations or budgets, which are controlled mainly by the major counterintelligence agencies, the FBI domestically and the CIA abroad.

Mr. Brenner took over the agency in 2006 and removed most of the staff who had worked under the previous director, Michelle Van Cleave, former NCIX officials said.

NCIX was made one of three major “centers” when the office of the Director of National Intelligence was created by a 2004 law.

Miss Van Cleave recently published an article stating that NCIX and other U.S. efforts to counter foreign spies remain ineffective while the problem of foreign spying is growing.

Miss Van Cleave, writing in The Washington Post on Feb. 8, identified concerns about U.S. counterintelligence while she was at NCIX for three years during the Bush administration. The article noted problems that she outlined in a report made public in September by the Project on National Security Reform, a private research group.

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