- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The Pentagon plans to create an intelligence czar to better fight the war on terrorism.

A confidential request for the new post went to Congress this week. The plan is emerging amid complaints that the nation's intelligence community, including the CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, failed to coordinate and share information on terrorism, in particular Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

After repositioning the military by creating the U.S. Northern Command, the Pentagon wants Congress to authorize civilian changes by approving the new job of undersecretary of defense for intelligence. It would be the Defense Department's fourth undersecretary, joining ones for policy, acquisition, and personnel and readiness.

Officials said the hope is that an undersecretary would carry enough clout to force the various military intelligence units to coordinate information with other agencies. The official would also serve as a direct pipeline to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a war that requires precise intelligence on the next move by al Qaeda.

In a second move, the Defense Department also wants to downgrade the office of assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict (SOIC). In its place would be a new assistant secretary for homeland security. Policy issues for special-operations forces would shift to a deputy assistant secretary, who would report to the new homeland security assistant secretary.

The Pentagon requested the changes in a letter sent last evening to a few key lawmakers. One official said both posts require a change in law and thus must be approved by Congress. This source said the hope is to have the Senate include the new posts in the 2003 defense authorization bill undergoing floor debate.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said yesterday, "There have been discussions on several levels on how best to organize the department for the challenges of the 21st century. Those discussions include how to best organize the [Office of Secretary of Defense] staff."

Mr. Whitman declined to discuss any specific proposals.

Defense sources say a leading contender for the intelligence post is Richard Haver, who is now Mr. Rumsfeld's special assistant for intelligence matters.

Mr. Haver has a solid resume in intelligence and is known as someone not afraid to challenge the bureaucracy the kind of "out of the box" thinking Mr. Rumsfeld likes. Mr. Rumsfeld is said to not always be happy with the intelligence products he sees.

A former naval intelligence officer, Mr. Haver spearheaded inquiries into national security damage from the country's major spy scandals. He served as the chief of staff of the CIA director's National Intelligence Council, an interagency group that produces consensus on major intelligence predictions.

Mr. Haver was the director's liaison to a national ballistic missile commission headed by Mr. Rumsfeld before he became defense secretary.

A move to downgrade the assistant secretary for SOIC to a deputy assistant secretary may face opposition in Congress. Lawmakers created the position in the late 1980s as a direct response to major shortcomings in the special-operations community and to "Desert One," the failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran.

Military officials say the community's combat readiness improved dramatically as the new assistant secretary became an advocate inside the Pentagon for increased budget dollars.

The job has gone unfilled since President Bush took office. The White House withdrew the first nominee from Senate consideration. After the September 11 attacks, no new name was submitted, as Mr. Rumsfeld's staff discussed rearranging the policy staff to better suit the war on terrorism.

A new defense intelligence czar, and a civilian homeland security official, would be the latest steps by the Bush administration to protect the country from terrorists and root out attacks before they are carried out.

The president has asked Congress to set up a new Homeland Security Department, which assembles various existing agencies under one Cabinet secretary.

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