- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

Numerous studies over the past several decades have called for reforms that could improve U.S. intelligence capabilities, but they produced few changes or improvements, a congressional investigator said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence complained yesterday that the CIA was refusing to provide congressional oversight committees with reports on Iraq.
"This was unacceptable," said Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat. "We're trying to carry out a very important responsibility and given the nature of this classified information, we are the only means by which the intelligence community can communicate to the legislative branch of government."
In testimony before a joint House-Senate committee investigating intelligence failures related to September 11, Eleanor Hill identified some 25 commissions and studies since the CIA was formed in 1947.
"Many proposals have been made to address perceived shortcomings in the community's structure, management, role and mission," Mrs. Hill said. "These have ranged from a fundamental restructuring of the community to tinkering with its component parts."
The studies identified several areas where changes were needed, including improvements in human spying capabilities, information sharing, more analysts and linguists, and restructuring to improve intelligence work between the CIA and the Pentagon.
"While there has been a plethora of recommendations for reform over the years, many of the most far-reaching proposals have not been acted on to any significant degree, particularly in the area of organization and structure," Mrs. Hill said.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and vice chairman of the Senate committee, said numerous proposals have been issued in response to "significant intelligence failures" since 1993.
Many recommended changes called for further empowering the CIA director or setting up intelligence arms within the Pentagon. However, "all of them so far have gone nowhere," Mr. Shelby said.
"When such ideas do not founder upon the rocks of interdepartmental rivalry and what the military calls rice-bowl politics, they simply fail to elicit much interest from an intelligence community that, even to this day, insists that nothing is fundamentally wrong," Mr. Shelby said.
"Too often, serious reform proposals have been dismissed as a bridge too far by administration after administration and Congress after Congress and have simply fallen by the wayside," he said. "While very modest attempts at reform have been enacted, they've been ignored by succeeding administrations and openly defied by our current director of central intelligence," George J. Tenet.
Mr. Shelby said a special task force in Congress looked at reform for several months and recommended a "fusion" center that would circumvent "vested interests" and "holdover bureaucrats" inside intelligence agencies.
"This organization would draw upon all the information available to the federal government and use the resulting knowledge to achieve a single clear goal dismantling and destroying terrorist groups that threaten the U.S.," Mr. Shelby said. "This, they hope, might allow meaningful reform to take place without initially having to upset entrenched bureaucratic apple carts."
Regarding the CIA's refusal to provide reports to Congress, Mr. Graham said members of Congress were unhappy with an intelligence report sent Wednesday that failed to address key questions needed for the debate over the use of military force against Iraq.
Mr. Graham told reporters the issue would be discussed in a meeting with Mr. Tenet, the CIA director, set for today.
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said Mr. Tenet values the role of intelligence oversight by Congress and "believes our relationship with Congress is extremely important."
"We are looking forward to continuing to cooperate with the committee, and respond to their questions and concerns," Mr. Mansfield said.
The dispute is over classified "National Intelligence Estimates," a consensus report representing the views of all 14 U.S. intelligence agencies.
One estimate sent late Tuesday to Congress focused on Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capabilities.
Mr. Graham said the report was sent too late to permit senators to read it before a Wednesday meeting. "Several of the questions we asked were purposely omitted," he said, including the impact of military action on the region.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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