The Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee unveiled a radical proposal yesterday to remove most of the nation's major intelligence-gathering operations from the CIA and Pentagon and place them directly under the control of a new national intelligence director. The plan, announced by Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) and endorsed by eight other committee Republicans, is more extensive than the reorganization proposed last month by the Sept. 11, 2001, commission and would result in the virtual dismantling of the CIA. It also would severely curb the power and influence of the Defense Department, which controls the bulk of the federal classified intelligence budget, informs MSNBC. Under the plan, the CIA's three main directorates would be torn from the agency and turned into separate entities reporting to separate directors. The Pentagon would lose control of three of its largest operations as well, including the super-secret National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic signals worldwide. The proposal came as a shock to Senate Democrats and the White House, which had not been told in advance about the plan's details by Roberts and the other GOP committee members. Congress is holding hearings on how to remodel the nation's intelligence agencies in the wake of shortcomings outlined by the Sept. 11 commission. Roberts, in an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation," said the Republicans focused on "the national security threats that face this country today" in fashioning the proposal. "We didn't pay attention to turf or agencies or boxes," Roberts said. "I'm trying to build a consensus around something that's very different and very bold." According to VOANews, President Bush says he will consider all kinds of ideas to reform the nation's intelligence community, including the sweeping plan put forward by a key senator. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says bold action is needed to restructure all the agencies involved in intelligence-gathering. Senator Roberts took the White House and most of his congressional colleagues by surprise when he announced the plan on national television. "This is a very bold plan. As I said, we didn't pay any attention to turf or agencies or boxes," he said. "We said all right, what are the national security threats that face this country today in an asymmetrical world and what do we face down the road." His proposal calls for a complete restructuring of U.S. intelligence operations, including taking functions away from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department and putting them under a new national intelligence director. Two senators and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said a proposal to abolish the CIA and overhaul U.S. intelligence agencies would be a mistake. Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the chairman of the intelligence committee, introduced legislation today to that would split the CIA into three departments and place all U.S. intelligence operations under one director with budget and personnel authority over agents at the departments of Defense, Energy, Treasury, Homeland Security and State as well as the CIA. Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the legislation would be disruptive, and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it would be a ``severe mistake.'' Former CIA Director George Tenet called it a ``dangerous misunderstanding of the business of intelligence.'' The Senate is holding rare summer hearings on recommendations from the government panel that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The creation of a national intelligence director to oversee the 15 U.S. intelligence agencies is one of the primary proposals, reports Bloomberg.
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