Continued from page 1

The command is projected to have 931 military and civilian officials and a budget of $159 million by next year.

He also disclosed that computer warfare troops were dispatched to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We deployed expeditionary teams to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

FBI director search

Obama administration officials say the leading candidate to replace FBI Director Robert Mueller is Fran Fragos Townsend, a lawyer whose career spanned Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno’s Justice Department and George W. Bush’s White House.

Mr. Mueller’s term as director ends in September. The White House and FBI have been searching for a replacement for the past several months, according to two officials close to the search.

Ms. Townsend most recently served as Mr. Bush’s homeland security adviser, a senior counterterrorism post, until 2009.

Ms. Townsend could not be reached for comment. An FBI spokesman had no comment. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said: “I just am not going to speculate on any basis about the next FBI director today.”

Her earlier career in the Clinton Justice Department made her the focus of criticism. In early 2000, she came under fire from conservative officials in the Bush administration, notably Attorney General John Ashcroft, who moved her out of the strategically important Office of Intelligence Policy Review.

It was at OIPR that Ms. Townsend was a key figure in the notorious bureaucratic “wall” imposed under Ms. Reno that limited intelligence officials from talking to law enforcement officials. The wall was widely blamed for contributing to the intelligence failures related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The policy wall was erected by Ms. Reno, Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick and Justice Department intelligence official Richard Scruggs.

Ms. Townsend “was the main enforcer of the Reno-Gorelick-Scruggs wall,” said a former official who described her as “divisive.”

Other executive branch officials involved in security matters said that while at OIPR, Ms. Townsend blocked a key FBI request for a wiretap on Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee, the chief suspect in a spy case involving the loss of nuclear secrets to China. He was not convicted of spying but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of mishandling classified nuclear information. Officials said the delay in getting the wiretap undermined the FBI’s nuclear espionage case that remains unsolved.

The FBI Agents Association this week added its voice to the debate by calling for the appointment of ex-FBI agent Mike Mason to be the next director.

Ms. Townsend emerged as the top contender for the FBI post after the administration decided against picking Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago who is leading an the investigation into how photos of undercover CIA interrogators were passed to terrorists currently imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison, potentially endangering their lives.

Story Continues →