Establishing a national intelligence "czar" would seem sure to shake up Washington's massive spy bureaucracy, but US President George W. Bush's description of the job has been murky and members of the Sept. 11 Commission complained Tuesday his plan doesn't go far enough. \n"We will be talking in more detail as we move forward on this," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in the face of criticism that Bush was too vague about the new director's authority. The unanswered questions mean Congress is likely to play a major role in defining the job and a proposed national counterterrorism center. \n"No one is going to listen to this individual" without the ability to hire and fire and control budgets, said former Republican Senator Slade Gorton, a member of the commission. \nBush's proposal departs in key areas from the recommendations of the commission that investigated the deadliest attack on America and faulted the work of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. In particular, the president's blueprint would give the new director authority to "coordinate" the budgets of the nation's 15 intelligence agencies, as the current director has, but not the final say on how much they receive or how they spend it. \nGiving the director control over intelligence budgets probably would ignite a turf battle with the Pentagon, which controls a large chunk -- 85 percent by some estimates -- of the nation's US$40 billion-plus intelligence budget. \n"I know that Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld is going to oppose it," commission member Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, said Tuesday. Rumsfeld told the commission in March that creating an intelligence czar would be a"great disservice." The commission said the director should have the power to hire and fire the chief of the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI intelligence office and other agencies. But Bush's plan simply envisions giving the director a say in those decisions. \n"If you don't have the authority to pick the people, isn't a national director just a shell game and a shell operation?" said Senator Arlen Specter. \nFormer Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican member of the Sept. 11 panel, agreed. \n"It makes no sense at all unless it has the power to break up bureaucratic layers, to remove bureaucratic layers," said Lehman. \n"To carry it out, this national intelligence director has to have hiring and firing power, not just budget coordination power, but budget and appropriations and reprogramming power." \nThe proposed changes -- including the creation of a national counterterrorism center -- would be perhaps the biggest shakeup of the US intelligence community since the 1947 law establishing the CIA.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists