- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

Intelligence officials and Democrats yesterday sharply criticized the proposal to radically restructure U.S. intelligence drafted by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican.

Former CIA chief George J. Tenet said that the proposal “reflects a dangerous misunderstanding of the business of intelligence.” And the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, accused Mr. Roberts of “squander[ing] the momentum we achieved last month” when the panel released a unanimous, bipartisan report on Iraq prewar intelligence.

Mr. Roberts’ proposal goes even further than the reforms suggested by the September 11 commission. It breaks the CIA into three parts: an operational National Clandestine Service, an analytical Office of National Assessments and an Office of Technical Support.

All three parts would be placed under the control of a new spy chief, the National Intelligence Director, who would also take over the human intelligence service of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the three agencies — currently in the Pentagon — that build and run the nation’s spy satellites and listening posts.

Mr. Roberts said, in designing the proposal, he had told his staff to start with a blank page: “Let’s try to do what is really right in regard to the national security of the country. … Don’t take a look at turf, don’t take a look at agencies … don’t worry about boxes.”

Democrats said they were blindsided by the proposal.

Mr. Rockefeller said it was regrettable that Mr. Roberts “did not afford me or any Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee an opportunity to work with him in drafting the proposal.”

“The first time I saw it was when I came into work this morning,” said a senior Democratic staffer of the draft bill.

Mr. Roberts acknowledged it was unfortunate there had not been more consultation, but blamed the speed with which he felt he had to act.

With the administration poised to present its own proposals, and some Democrats promoting a bill that simply wrote the 41 recommendations of the September 11 commission into law, he said the committee had to “put down its flag” or else be sidelined and allow the debate over intelligence reform to be waged along partisan lines.

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