CIA reportedly wins turf battle with DNI office

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

The CIA has reportedly won a turf battle with the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), after the White House came down in support of the CIA position on Thursday. This blog has kept tabs on the dispute, which started 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 senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. Former CIA officials publicly denounced the directive, which would allow the appointment of non-CIA personnel to these positions for the first time in 60 years, as “simple insanity”. Since then, various actors have sided with the two antagonists, with the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence committee supporting the DNI and Vice President Joe Biden backing the CIA’s position. But the stalemate reportedly ended on Thursday, after the White House ruled that the CIA, not the DNI, should appoint senior US intelligence representatives abroad. Commenting on the report of the White House’s decision, The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti suggests that the ruling “is a blow” to DNI Blair, who “had used the issue as a litmus test of the power of his office”. The Associated Press, which first reported the news on Thursday, correctly points out that the White House decision will be seen at the office of the DNI as “a high-profile loss” to another intelligence agency that is technically supposed to be subordinate to the DNI. This, the AP report continues, raises “fresh questions about the strength” of the DNI, a position created by the Bush administration after 9/11, and tasked with supervising and coordinating all 16 US intelligence agencies.

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