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The Nation | NEWS ANALYSIS

Spy Czar, Rumsfeld in a Turf War

May 06, 2006|Doyle McManus and Peter Spiegel | Times Staff Writers

Already, the Pentagon's intelligence budget dwarfs that of the CIA. Although the budgets remain classified, the CIA is believed to get about $5 billion annually, less than the National Security Agency, which gets $6 billion to $8 billion a year. The Defense Department's National Reconnaissance Office, the operator of military satellites, also gets $6 billion to $8 billion a year.

Other Pentagon agencies have sizable budgets -- the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the department's mapping office, has a budget of about $3 billion, and the Defense Intelligence Agency gets $1 billion to $3 billion annually. The individual military services, which all have their own intelligence-gathering operations, also have large budgets.

Negroponte declined to speak about these issues in the wake of Goss' resignation Friday. But in a speech last month, he said -- in an implicit criticism of at least some of the intelligence agencies he supervises -- that his basic goal is to "optimize the [intelligence] community's total performance as opposed to optimizing its members' individual operations."

"We are in the process of remaking a loose confederation into a unified enterprise," Negroponte added.

His key weapon, he said, would be control over the intelligence budget, which he called "a powerful integrating force." By controlling which agencies and which programs are funded, he said, he can nudge the separate agencies toward greater collaboration.

Still, Negroponte acknowledged at a Senate hearing in March, there had been open conflict with the Pentagon over at least one issue: personnel.

The law setting up his job gave Negroponte the authority to transfer professionals from individual intelligence agencies into joint centers or other agencies to make the integration process work. But the Pentagon has made that process difficult, officials said, in part by issuing a directive that any such transfer required the "concurrence" of its intelligence chief, Cambone.

"We look at those people as intelligence people, and the secretary [Rumsfeld] certainly looks on those as DOD folks," Negroponte said.

"I think we'll work our way through it," he said.

Negroponte's cautious approach produced an unusual bipartisan rebuke last month from the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, who complained that he had built a staff of more than 1,500 but shown few concrete results.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the panel, said he worried that Negroponte was "slowing down the process."

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), the senior Democrat on the committee, said: "We don't want more billets, more bureaucracy, more buildings. We want more leadership."

Negroponte's speech before the National Press Club two weeks ago was his public response, and it boiled down to: Lay off.

"Integrating our intelligence community -- foreign, military and domestic -- is a tall order," he said. "Intelligence reform hasn't been a theory-based experiment or an exercise in bureaucratic bloat. Government programs require government officials to implement them."

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Times staff writer Greg Miller contributed to this report.

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