Mon, Feb 21, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Intel chief must rein in agencies, officials say

COOPERATION John Negroponte has to get all intelligence departments under him on the same page. Officials say the new intelligence director has his work cut out for him


From the start, virtually every decision that John Negroponte would make in defining his brand-new job could stir resentment among the 15 intelligence agencies he would oversee.

It is the Pentagon and the CIA who stand to lose the most.

Already, Negroponte and the White House appear to have answered the critical question of who should write the intelligence briefing that President Bush reads each morning. No longer will that role be played by the CIA, which has overseen the documents for every president since Harry Truman. The responsibility would be transferred to Negroponte, the nominee for the new job of director of national intelligence.

The move provides an early clue that Negroponte and the White House intend for the intelligence chief to play an expansive role in the inevitable jockeying with the CIA, led by Porter Goss, and the Pentagon, under Donald Rumsfeld. "I kind of look forward to the first test," Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said in an interview Friday.

Any struggle, Rockefeller said, "will put the president on the line, which will then in turn establish, for a long time, the real authority in this town."

For 58 years, the morning summaries, now known as the president's daily brief, have been written by the CIA, a role that has magnified the agency's power in shaping presidential agendas. But as part of the intelligence overhaul that established the new job, Bush has made clear that he expects Negroponte, and not Goss, to function as his principal intelligence adviser, and to be at his side six mornings a week during the Oval Office meetings at which the daily briefings are presented.

It is possible, current and former intelligence officials said, that the actual assembling and writing of the highly classified document would remain a CIA responsibility, particularly in the weeks and months after Negroponte begins, assuming that he wins Senate confirmation, which is expected next month.

But in a television interview on Friday on the Today show on NBC, the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr, said that Negroponte and his staff would "be responsible for producing" the daily briefing document. A compilation of about 10 articles that usually runs to 20 pages, the document is circulated to fewer than a dozen senior officials other than Bush, but its ability to command the attention of the most powerful people in the world means that it may remain the most influential memo produced in Washington every day.

In interviews, former intelligence officials said the move would represent a diminution of power for the CIA, which over time has used the document to command presidential attention. But some said that a move away from the agency would be valuable in allowing more contributions from other intelligence agencies, and would free up CIA analysts to devote more attention to long-term work.

"If I were the DNI, I would want to be in control of the briefing I was presenting," said a former intelligence official, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of his former position, using an acronym for director of national intelligence.

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