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Inside the Ring: Senate blocks DIA spy growth
Question of the Day
A committee report on the provision states that the agency’s efforts to beef up spying were based on “longstanding problems.”
“These problems include inefficient utilization of personnel trained at significant expense to conduct clandestine HUMINT [human intelligence]; poor or non-existent career management for trained HUMINT personnel; cover challenges; and unproductive deployment locations,” the report said.
“Multiple studies since the end of the Cold War document these deficiencies, and they led the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community, chaired by two former secretaries of defense, to recommend transferring to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all responsibilities for the clandestine recruitment of human sources, utilizing military personnel on detail from the DOD [Department of Defense] as necessary.”
During the George W. Bush administration, the number of CIA case officers increased by 50 percent, and, since the Sept. 11 attacks Pentagon, spies have increased “substantially,” the report said.
“The committee is concerned that, despite this expansion and the winding down of two overseas conflicts that required large HUMINT resources, DOD believes that its needs are not being met,” the report said.
The reference to the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raises the question of whether Congress is seeking to block an increased effort to spy on China, as part of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia.
The Senate also suggested that DIA, by using current resources more effectively, could cut its investments in human spying, rather than planning for them to remain steady or increase, as part of Pentagon budget and personnel “challenges,” an apparent reference to budget-cutting efforts under way.
The legislation, if passed in its current form, would cap DIA human spying to the number of operatives as of April.
The bill also would require two reports to Congress — one from the office of cost assessment and program evaluation and the office of undersecretary of defense for intelligence — on DIA’s human spying programs.
Asked about the provision, DIA spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas F. Veale told Inside the Ring: “We continue to work with our oversight committees.”
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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.
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