Monday, January 24, 2005

Pentagon Sends Its Spies to Join Fight on Terror

“The Pentagon has created battlefield intelligence units that for the first time have been assigned to work directly with Special Operations forces on secret counterterrorism missions, tasks that had been largely the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior Defense Department officials said Sunday.

The small clandestine teams, drawn from specialists within the Defense Intelligence Agency, provide the military's elite Special Operations units with battlefield intelligence using advanced technology, recruit spies in foreign countries, and scout potential targets, the officials said.

The teams, which officials say have been operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries for about two years, represent a prime example of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's desire to expand the Pentagon's ability to collect human intelligence - information gathered by spies rather than by technological means - both within the military services and the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose focus is on intelligence used on the battlefield.”

Some intelligence experts said the creation of the units was the latest chapter in a long-running battle for intelligence dominance between Mr. Rumsfeld's Defense Department and the C.I.A., a battle that has only intensified since the 9/11 commission recommended creating the job of national intelligence director to oversee all intelligence programs.

"This is really a giant turf battle," said Walter P. Lang, a former head of the Defense Human Intelligence Service, a branch of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Among the C.I.A.'s concerns, former intelligence officials have said, are that an expanded Pentagon role in intelligence-gathering could, by design or effect, escape the strict Congressional oversight imposed by law on such operations when they are carried out by intelligence agencies.
con·cept: Pentagon Sends Its Spies to Join Fight on Terror