Senate intelligence panel takes sides in DNI-CIA dispute

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

In a report issued last Thursday, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has come out in support of the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in its dispute with the CIA over who should appoint CIA station chiefs abroad. This blog has kept tabs on the bureaucratic turf war, which erupted last May, when DNI Dennis Blair argued in a still classified directive that his office should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of CIA’s senior representatives in foreign cities. Former CIA officials have denounced the directive, which would allow the appointment of non-CIA personnel to the position, as “simple insanity”. But the Senate panel, in its FY2010 fiscal intelligence authorization report, said it believes that “some locations may give rise to circumstances where th[e CIA station chief’s] responsibility is best met by an official with expertise derived from another I[ntelligence] C[ommunity] element”. Writing last month, former CIA agent Robert Baer suggested that, if DNI Blair got his way, “it would be an unprecedented arrogation of the CIA director’s authority […] and the first time in its history the CIA would not be the lead [US] intelligence agency in a foreign country”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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