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Friday, March 23, 2007

Pentagon & CIA to Bury Hatchet?

The Pentagon’s intelligence people and the CIA were at each other’s throats during Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure as defense secretary. They now seem ready to share information.

Early this month the director of national intelligence (DNI) signed a document entitled “unified cross domain management office charter” laying out procedures allowing the Pentagon to share classified information with the country’s leading intelligence agencies. Hitherto, the absence of such a charter had been used by the Department of Defense to justify withholding information. The formal establishment of information-sharing procedures between the DoD and DNI could well be the first step towards a new division of labour between the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. During Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure as defense secretary, Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, had set up an intelligence unit inside the Pentagon, the Strategic Support Branch, which operated independently and was headed by lieutenant-general William Boykin at Fort Bragg.

In May of last year, Robert Gates, former CIA boss who replaced Rumsfeld at the Pentagon in November, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post criticising the Pentagon’s strategy and deploring the DoD’s distrust of the CIA. During his confirmation hearings in December, Gates reiterated that position. However, a revamp of the Pentagon’s intelligence units is unlikely to take place before general James Clapper, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGO) is confirmed in his new job of undersecretary of defense for intelligence. No date for a confirmation hearing has yet been set by the Senate. The acting undersecretary at present is Robert Andrews who, like Gates, is a CIA veteran.
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