Last Updated: 9/12/06
Intelligence Turf Battle

Clash Foreseen Between C.I.A. And Pentagon

By Eric Schmitt
New York Times
May 10, 2006

President Bush's selection of Gen. Michael V. Hayden to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency sets the stage for new wrangling with the Pentagon, which is rapidly expanding its own global spying and terrorist-tracking operations, both long considered C.I.A. roles.

Overseeing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's drive to broaden the military's clandestine reconnaissance and man-hunting missions is Stephen A. Cambone, the Pentagon's intelligence czar and one of Mr. Rumsfeld's most trusted aides, whose low public profile masks his influence as one of the nation's most powerful intelligence officials.

Since his office was created three years ago, Mr. Cambone and his deputy, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, a former commander of the Army's elite Delta Force, have carried out a wide-ranging restructuring of the Pentagon's sprawling intelligence bureaucracy.

The C.I.A. has the lead role in managing ''human intelligence,'' or spying in the government. Whether by design or circumstance, though, much of the growth in the military's spy missions has come in the Special Operations Command, which reports to Mr. Rumsfeld and falls outside the orbit controlled by John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.

In one of the boldest new missions, the Pentagon has sharply increased the number of clandestine teams of Defense Intelligence Agency personnel and Special Operations forces conducting secret counterterrorism missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign countries. Using a broad definition of its current authority to conduct ''traditional military activities'' and ''prepare the battlefield,'' the Pentagon has dispatched teams to gather information about potential foes well before any shooting starts.

In an effort to enhance military interrogations, Mr. Cambone is also overseeing the politically sensitive task of rewriting the Army's field manual. Just last week, he and other top Pentagon officials briefed senior senators on a Pentagon proposal to have one set of interrogation techniques for enemy prisoners of war and another, presumably more coercive, set for the suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said Senate aides, who were granted anonymity because the discussions were confidential.

At the Pentagon Tuesday, Mr. Rumsfeld voiced support for General Hayden's nomination and dismissed any reported rivalries with his intelligence brethren as ''theoretical conspiracies'' that were ''all off the mark.'' He added, ''There's no power play taking place in Washington.''

Some of the Pentagon's new initiatives have been previously disclosed. But in interviews, more than two dozen officials from intelligence agencies, the Defense Department and Congress provided new details of what they described as a strong effort by the Pentagon to assert a much broader role in the clandestine world of intelligence.

Mr. Cambone insisted that the Pentagon was working closely with the C.I.A. and Mr. Negroponte's office, saying that he held a 20-minute conference call with officials from a dozen intelligence agencies every Tuesday and Thursday morning. But Mr. Cambone said the military's thirst for information to help soldiers on the ground after the Sept. 11 attacks had fueled the Pentagon's intelligence-gathering expansion, particularly against shadowy terrorist cells.

''There's a lot more to do today than on Sept. 10,'' Mr. Cambone said in an interview in his office last Friday, just before Mr. Bush's announcement. ''The department has taken the responsibility to better prepare itself and to be prepared to operate in environments we encounter. Is that different than in the past? I think the difference is more the amount of activity as opposed to the activity itself.''

The Pentagon has always been a behemoth in the intelligence world, largely because it controlled agencies with multibillion-dollar budgets like the National Security Agency and National Reconnaissance Office that are responsible for eavesdropping and satellites. What is different now is that the Pentagon is pushing deeper into human intelligence.

The C.I.A. has always been a much smaller organization than the Pentagon that served both the military and senior policy makers in Washington, including the president. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon felt it had to step in to fulfill many of its own additional intelligence needs that the C.I.A. could not.

This activity has stirred criticism from some lawmakers who express concern that the Pentagon is creating a parallel intelligence-gathering network independent from the C.I.A. or other American authorities, and one that encroaches on the C.I.A.'s realm.

''I still harbor concerns that some things are being done under the rubric of preparing the battlefield that I'd consider to be intelligence-collection activities, are being run separately and are feeding a planning apparatus that's not well understood by Congress,'' said Representative Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

General Hayden, while seeking to play down any turf war with the Pentagon, acknowledged some skirmishes over staff. The new law creating Mr. Negroponte's job gave the director the authority to transfer personnel from individual intelligence agencies into joint centers or other agencies to speed the integration of the civilian and military intelligence communities. But Mr. Rumsfeld made that process more difficult, some lawmakers said, by issuing a directive last November that required ''the concurrence'' of Mr. Cambone before any transfers could take place.

General Hayden said in a telephone interview last Thursday that while the Pentagon adopted every one of his suggested changes to the 11-page document, the timing of its release just a few months after Mr. Negroponte's office was established ''created a horrible optic.'' On the personnel issue, General Hayden acknowledged that ''there is genuine overlap'' that will have to be resolved ''one step at a time.''

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who played a chief role in writing the intelligence overhaul, criticized the directive as a Department of Defense power grab. ''The issuance of the directive sent exactly the wrong signal,'' Ms. Collins said.

She said it implied a questioning of Mr. Negroponte's authority ''over those agencies that I find to be contrary to the intent of the legislation,'' adding, ''D.O.D. is very eager to fill any vacuum or even create one, if necessary.''

A central figure in how this debate plays out is Mr. Cambone, a 53-year-old native of Highland, N.Y., who as undersecretary of defense for intelligence oversees 130 full-time employees and more than 100 contractors. His office's responsibilities include domestic counterintelligence, long-range threat planning and budgeting for new technologies.

Mr. Cambone emphasized that his office did not collect or analyze intelligence itself; it oversees those who do, assessing the quality of what organizations like the N.S.A. and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency collect and analyze.

Colleagues say that Mr. Cambone, who holds a doctorate in political science from Claremont Graduate School, is a skilled bureaucrat who can dominate a briefing with his mastery of complex subjects but can also rub people the wrong way with what some say is his abrasive style.

''He has a strong personality and can be a lightning rod for controversy,'' said Barry Blechman, a longtime friend who is a member of the Defense Policy Board.

Mr. Cambone draws much of his influence from the close working relationship he has developed with Mr. Rumsfeld, beginning in the late 1990's when Mr. Cambone served as staff director for independent commissions on space and ballistic missile threats that Mr. Rumsfeld headed when both men were out of government.

Mr. Cambone was at Mr. Rumsfeld's elbow on Sept. 11, taking notes from his boss to look into Iraq's possible role in the attacks. Later, he served in important jobs forming policy and deciding which weapons systems to buy or cancel. ''He's Rumsfeld's go-to guy,'' said Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon's comptroller until May 2004.

In a sign of the importance Mr. Rumsfeld places on the intelligence czar position, last December he quietly revamped the civilian line of succession in the Pentagon hierarchy in the event the secretary and deputy secretary died or were incapacitated. He put the undersecretary for intelligence next in line. The secretary of the Army had traditionally been No. 3.

But few issues have stirred the passions of lawmakers and intelligence officials like the Pentagon's expanding clandestine missions.

''The question in my mind is with such a large expansion, are some of these people really qualified?'' said W. Patrick Lang, a former head of the Defense Human Intelligence Service.

Since the Afghan war, elite Special Operations forces have worked with C.I.A. counterparts to kill or capture fighters for Al Qaeda or other terrorists. But Mr. Rumsfeld, frustrated with the C.I.A.'s limited resources to provide fresh targets, has pushed the military to develop more of its own intelligence abilities.

Last year, Congress gave the Pentagon important new authority to fight terrorism by authorizing Special Operations forces for the first time to spend $25 million a year through 2007 to pay informants and recruit foreign paramilitary fighters.

The money was requested by the Pentagon and the commander of Special Operations forces as part of a broader effort to make the military less reliant on the C.I.A. In the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Special Operations troops had to wait for the C.I.A. to pay informants and could not always count on timely support, the Pentagon concluded.

General Hayden, who is Mr. Negroponte's deputy and formerly served as head of the N.S.A., is seen by many intelligence officials and lawmakers as independent and forceful enough to lay down markers with the Pentagon. In the interview, General Hayden said it had become more difficult to distinguish between traditional secret intelligence missions carried out by the military and those by the C.I.A.

''There's a blurring of functions here,'' General Hayden said. ''My intent is that we'll work this out on a case by case basis.''

At the Pentagon, Mr. Cambone said American troops were now more likely to be working with indigenous forces in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan to combat stateless terrorist organizations and needed as much flexibility as possible. ''We're lending support of a very different kind than you might have in the past,'' Mr. Cambone said. ''It's a very different world in which you're operating.''

Copyright 2006. The New York Times Company

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