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Commission Finds Remoteness, Arrogance Big Problems at CIA

March 1, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The military should be stripped of its authority to recruit spies and the director of the CIA should be invested with more power to rein in an often remote intelligence bureaucracy, according to a special commission.

The commission, chaired by former Defense Secretary Harold Brown and former Republican Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, found that 85 percent of the intelligence community is now beyond the reach of the CIA’s director.

In a report to be released Friday, the commission said the government also should disclose the total it spends annually on intelligence but continue keeping spending details on specific programs secret. The budget figure is classified but was widely reported to be about $28 billion in 1995.

The congressionally established commission did not address whether the CIA should try to recruit journalists and missionaries for spy missions or allow its own agents to identify themselves as members of either profession.

CIA Director John Deutch acknowledged last week that he has authority to waive a prohibition of such practices but did not say whether such waivers had ever been used.

The panel defended the use of covert actions as a sometimes necessary alternative to military action when diplomacy fails. But it said the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in charge of them is often arrogant, parochial and too tolerant of unprofessional performance.

To overcome the isolation of the directorate, the commission said case officers be rotated through assignments in other directorates, a practice not currently followed.

The biggest obstacle to reforming the troubled intelligence community is overcoming the attitude of the CIA’s ``old boys’ network,″ the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday.

Speaking before the commission was to make its report public, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Deutch needs more authority on hiring decisions and transfers. Specter’s committee is expected to make its own recommendations later this year.

``The hardest question on reform ... is what to do about the attitude,″ said the Pennsylvania senator. ``That’s something that we’ve been wrestling with, a lot of people have been wrestling with a long, long time.″

He said the ``culture of the old boys’ network″ at the CIA was ``very, very hard to deal with.″

He blamed that attitude for what he called the inadequate handling of the cases of Aldrich Ames, the Russian spy who passed secrets to Moscow while working in CIA counterintelligence.

Providing top government officials, including the president, information that came from Soviet double agents, was another ``mistake of the highest level″ that Specter blamed on ingrained attitudes at the CIA.

The Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community was established by Congress in 1994 to conduct a ``credible, independent, and objective review of the intelligence community.″

The panel began its study in March 1995 and was chaired by former Defense Secretary Les Aspin until his death two months later. He was succeeded by former Defense Secretary Harold Brown and former Sen. Warren Rudman.

During its yearlong investigation, the commission heard testimony from 84 witnesses and interviewed 200 other individuals.

Specter refused to discuss details of the report in advance of its release Friday, except to say it was ``a very good effort so far as it has gone.″

The senator said the Senate and House Intelligence Committees would hold hearings next Wednesday on the commission’s findings.

Both panels are moving ahead with their own proposals for change.

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