President Bush, US intelligence
Evan Vucci/AP
President Bush makes a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday,
July 30, 2008, following a Cabinet meeting.

White House Revamps Intelligence Community

July 31, 2008 04:53 PM
by Josh Katz
The White House revealed the details today of an executive order to overhaul the structure of the country’s intelligence services.

30-Second Summary

Bush approved the executive order yesterday, which The Wall Street Journal calls “the largest overhaul of intelligence powers in a generation.”

The order will consolidate more power under the Director of National Intelligence in an attempt to create “a more unified, integrated, and collaborative Intelligence Community,” according to a White House statement released today. Other intelligence organizations have expressed concern that such a measure would infringe on their authority.

The order is a revision to Executive Order 12333, first issued by President Reagan in 1981, which spells out the duties and restrictions of the organizations within the intelligence community.

The intelligence director position was born in 2004 from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, and the new law strengthens the organization’s control.

The guidelines set forth by a surveillance bill signed by President Bush earlier in the month, are incorporated into the new law. The new law also gives the attorney general more oversight on intelligence.

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said the order, “clearly puts the [director of national intelligence] in charge.”

The intelligence director will have more power to select personnel in other intelligence organizations and “the responsibility for overseeing the acquisition of expensive programs such as new spy satellites,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

But Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent worries about the fact that the White House National Security Council will now be in charge of covert action: he says that the last time power was concentrated like that, the “result was Iran-Contra.”

Headline Links: White House announces intelligence overhaul

Background: Senate passes surveillance bill

Opinion & Analysis: The problems associated with concentrated power

Related Topic: Fighting terrorism; dissension within the Defense Department

Reference: Office of the Director of National Intelligence


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