October 6, 2001
House Boosts CIA Spending
By Walter Pincus
The House yesterday passed by voice vote the bill that authorizes spending some $30 billion next year on intelligence, including an additional $1 billion added for the CIA, FBI and Pentagon to help pay for the stepped-up fight against terrorism, according to congressional and administration sources.
While the exact figures in the bill are classified, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told members during yesterday's debate that funding increases would go to the director of central intelligence's Counterterrorism Center located at CIA headquarters, FBI counterterrorism efforts, and language training across the 12 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.
The intelligence community has not had enough specialists who can speak and translate Arabic and other languages to handle an enormous flow of intercepted phone calls and messages, a factor that some analysts have cited as limiting the intelligence available before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
"There is no way to overemphasize the importance of the demoniacal events we witnessed on September 11, 2001," Goss told colleagues. "No one can seriously doubt that we need the best possible intelligence to prosper and be safe at home and abroad."
Traditionally, technical collection of intelligence by space satellites, aircraft and land-based facilities along with intelligence activities by the military services have dominated congressional interest in the intelligence bill; almost $26 billion of the overall intelligence community budget goes to Pentagon agencies.
This year, human intelligence has become the central issue. Run primarily by the CIA, human espionage, either by American agents or those employed by the services of foreign governments, has been identified by Congress as a primary tool against terrorism. Both the House and Senate intelligence committees have approved additional resources and support for "humint" activities.
The CIA's fiscal 2002 budget, which will run between $3 billion and $4 billion, got an additional $300 million, according to one source. It will finance "the cheapest form of intelligence when compared to satellites," he said. The House also endorsed the committee's direction to CIA Director George J. Tenet to have by April a plan for "aggressive recruitment of case officer candidates, particularly those with ethnic and language backgrounds" and more "overseas-based operations officers."
The House bill calls for revoking guidelines adopted in 1995 that set rules for clearing foreign agents with questionable activities in their backgrounds before they could be recruited by CIA case officers. Those rules were supposed to eliminate use of foreigners "with blood on their hands." But, as the House committee said in a report released recently, the guidelines' "human rights concerns have had the unintended consequence of deterring the effective recruitment of potentially high-value assets."
The Senate's delay on the nomination of John D. Negroponte to be U.S. representative at the United Nations because he supported a military unit in Honduras that violated human rights was cited yesterday by an intelligence official as an example of the kind of problem the guidelines created.
Although Tenet and other agency officials regularly reassured Congress that there had been no instances where proposed agents were rejected within the terrorism area, the CIA director recently simplified the process for clearing such relationships by procedures adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Until the change, Tenet or one of the agency's top three officials had to approve a recruit when human rights questions were raised. Now final approval can be made by the head of the clandestine service, the CIA assistant director for operations.
The guidelines were instituted after a flare-up over a Guatemalan military officer who served as a CIA asset. The officer was alleged to have been involved in the murder of the Guatemalan husband of a U.S. citizen who was part of a rebel group. In the wake of accusations that the agency was employing violators of human rights, then-CIA Director John M. Deutch ordered a scrubbing of all agents on the books or those to be recruited.
The House bill calls on Tenet to "promulgate new guidelines that restore equilibrium to the asset vetting process, address legal questions in a timely manner to expedite recruitment of foreign assets and sources, and provide confidence to personnel in the field that their best judgment will be supported."
The bill also establishes an eight-member commission, appointed by the president and Congress, "to review the national security readiness of the United States, to identify structural impediments to the effective collection, analysis and sharing of information on national security threats, particularly terrorism."
The Senate Select Intelligence Committee version of the bill is before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Once approved by that panel and the Senate, differences between it and the House measure will be worked out in conference.
Copyright © 2001, Washington Post Company. All rights reserved.
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