- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Three former CIA directors said at a Senate hearing yesterday that creating the post of national intelligence director would be worthless without giving that person authority over the budgets of the nation’s spy agencies.

“The intelligence community does not need a feckless czar, with fine surroundings and little authority,” said William Webster, who has led the CIA as well as the FBI.

And the power of the purse will help the new director make the nation’s 15 intelligence agencies cooperate, as well as listen to what he or she has to say, James Woolsey told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence. “Whoever has the gold makes the rules,” he said.

Mr. Webster, who was CIA director from 1987 to 1991; Mr. Woolsey, who led from 1993 to 1995; and Stansfield Turner, who was chief from 1977 to 1981; were reacting to the September 11 commission’s suggestion that Congress create an intelligence director of near-Cabinet rank to coordinate all the intelligence agencies.

The Governmental Affairs Committee is readying legislation that would create the intelligence director post and a national counterterrorism center, as envisioned by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to coordinate and control the intelligence community.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry has endorsed the commission’s proposals. President Bush also supports creating the position but has publicly rejected the commission’s call to let the director control all intelligence budgets and choose who leads the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies.

There have been reports in the past week, however, that he has softened his stance on the matter.

Mr. Turner told the senators, “The worst thing that can come of this is we create an NID and not give him authority.”

Although the Governmental Affairs Committee is writing the legislation, intelligence committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, said he would submit a draft bill to the other committee’s chairman, Susan Collins, Maine Republican, for discussion by tomorrow.

Mr. Roberts said he expects his committee’s draft bill to be close to the September 11 commission’s suggestion of a director who has control over the budgets and the authority to hire and fire people.

“Control of the money, after all, is tantamount to power,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.

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