Amid a heated election-year debate on intelligence reform, the White House is expected to move soon on executive orders aimed at implementing a more powerful intelligence director and a new national counterterrorism center.
Bush administration and congressional officials said Thursday drafts of executive orders are circulating among relevant agencies for approval. One of the officials said the White House is floating proposed orders, and asking for feedback by Friday. Another official said the orders could be issued as early as Friday.
The orders would: Enhance the powers of the government's intelligence chief and create a national intelligence director. Form a national counterterrorism center, putting that office under the new intelligence director and giving the director the power to decide who runs it. Provide directions aimed at facilitating the exchange of information among intelligence agencies.
Both senators said they welcomed ideas proposed by other lawmakers about how best to overhaul intelligence operations. That includes a plan by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., that would break up the CIA and remove several intelligence agencies from the Pentagon, reports Associated Press.
According to CNN Pentagon officials in previous, open hearings on the recommendations have warned against changes that could hurt the ability to get war-fighting intelligence to the battlefield.
Collins, in responding to a question as to whether Defense officials Thursday expressed more willingness to forego some budget power, said, "I don't think the department is ever eager to give up authority," but it is not yet certain how much of a shift would be needed.
Lieberman said Pentagon officials "last week before the Armed Services Committee expressed the willingness to yield part of their authority, but not a lot of it."