Pentagon Escapes Greater CIA Supervision

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Chalk up a win for the spying authority of the Pentagon and the Beltway's bureaucratic heavyweight, Donald Rumsfeld. House intelligence committee chairman Peter Hoekstra tells TIME he's dropping legislation that would have more formally enshrined in law the tradition that the CIA coordinates human spy operations outside the U.S. The provision—Section 401 of the intelligence authorization bill now making its way through the House—would have subjected intelligence operations by agencies like the Pentagon and FBI to "coordination" under a process to be developed by CIA director Porter Goss and director of national intelligence John Negroponte. The move would have represented a victory for the CIA in the intel turf battles that have occasionally erupted with Pentagon and FBI intelligence operations—though officials at the CIA, the Defense Department and the FBI insist conflicts are rare and coordination is already being improved. But Hoekstra says House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter objected that the legislation would unduly expand Negroponte's authority almost before the ink has even dried on last year's law creating the new intelligence czar post.

The bill describes the proposal as a "Clarification of role of the director of Central Intelligence Agency as head of human intelligence collection." One worry, Hoekstra says, is what kind of activity would fall in the category of "tactical intelligence for the military," which the Pentagon jealously guards. Hoekstra said he agreed to drop the provision "to give the players the opportunity to work out in practice what the intelligence reform bill means." Hunter could not immediately be reached for comment. A Negroponte spokeswoman said the DNI was "unaware of any such deal. We were never consulted and played no role in it." — With reporting by Douglas Waller/Washington