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Spy Agency Turf Fights Just Like Pre-9/11: Report

Thursday, 02 Apr 2009 07:02 AM

WASHINGTON – US spy agencies are still hamstrung by the same turf battles and financial mismanagement that led to massive intelligence failures revealed by the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war, an internal report has found.

The report, made public on Wednesday, was the most detailed of its kind on challenges facing the 16 spy agencies.

It came four years after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was created to remedy them.

"The culture of protecting 'turf' remains a problem, and there are few, if any, consequences for failure to collaborate," said the report, which was completed by the DNI's inspector general in November, before President Barack Obama was sworn in as the new US president.

It also criticized what it called poor financial management by the DNI, saying that most of the intelligence agencies are "struggling to achieve auditable financial statements."

The US intelligence budget has seen a dramatic increase in recent years, and topped 43.5 billion dollars in fiscal 2007, which ended in September.

The report outlined the many challenges facing Obama's director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair.

The agencies have complained that the Director of National Intelligence "sends duplicative taskings and conflicting messages to the IC (intelligence community), thereby undermining the ODNI's credibility and fueling assertions that the ODNI is just an 'additional layer of bureaucracy,'" the report said.

"The lack of clear communication to the IC of the ODNI staff's authorities has encouraged some agencies to go their own way, to the detriment of the unified and integrated intelligence enterprise."

The report also found that the intelligence office had failed to present a vision for how the spy agencies should function.

Lawmakers reacted with dismay at the findings.

"We have been repeatedly disappointed by the lack of clarity in the role of the DNI," said California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who chaired a hearing Wednesday by a House Intelligence subcommittee.

"There's still not a clear mission from ODNI, and this is one of the things that's concerned a lot of us," said Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick.

DNI inspector general Edward Maguire told the congressional panel that the spy director's role as the top intelligence adviser to the president had hampered his management responsibilities.

"He doesn't have to do it personally every day and ... he could do this in more of an oversight type of capacity," Maguire said.

"In a way the creation of the ODNI was a little bit like, sort of like a corporate merger," Maguire explained. "When you do that, many, many mergers fail."

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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