Key Idea Of 9/11 Panel Is Faulted
"If we act hastily to appease partisan pressures, we could create a surveillance society with an intelligence czar in the hip pocket of the president," Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said in a statement yesterday.
Some of the sharpest questioning about the intelligence-director proposal came from Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who sits on the governmental affairs, intelligence and armed services committees, all of which will play major roles in crafting reform legislation in the Senate. Levin told Kean and Hamilton that "a top priority of reform must be greater independence and objectivity of intelligence analysis" that is "not tainted by the policies of whatever administration is in power."
"How does putting the director even closer to the policymaker do anything other than to make this problem even more difficult?" Levin asked at one point.
Hamilton said later that "there's no magic solution here, and every move you make has some advantages and has some disadvantages. We think the advantages, number one, of sharing information, and number two, of having someone in charge of managing the situation, is critical, and you don't have that today."
Collins, the committee's chairman, told reporters after the hearing that she had not made up her mind about where a new intelligence director should be located within the government.
"I thought that the chairs made a very strong case for placing the position within the Executive Office of the President and for having the individual serve at the pleasure of the president," she said. "But I'd want to hear more testimony on those two points."
The White House official said Bush has already taken some of the steps recommended by the commission and will soon announce additional steps stemming from the administration review. "They may well go beyond what the commission recommended" in the area of intelligence reorganization, the official said.
In a related development, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) sent a letter asking Bush to provide Congress with a copy of a report on the reorganization of intelligence submitted by Brent Scowcroft, chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Completed more than two years ago but still classified, the study recommended increasing the authority of the director of central intelligence and giving him control of the agencies now run by the Pentagon that use satellites for eavesdropping and collecting images. The CIA would be overseen by a deputy, under the proposal. Daschle said the report would help Congress in its current review.
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