Senator Collins Presses Armed Services Panel About Authority For New National Intelligence Director

WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Susan Collins, who is a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee which has been tasked with drafting legislation to address some of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, today questioned a panel, which included acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, about how much authority should be provided to a National Intelligence Director. Collins is working on legislation through the Governmental Affairs Committee, which will among other things create a National Intelligence Director.

In a question directed to Director McLaughlin during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier today, Senator Collins pointed out that one of the most startling findings of the 9-11 Commission is that in December of 1998, former CIA Director, George Tenet recognized that Al Qaida was an enormous threat to the US and called for additional resources to fight against this threat. However, he did not have sufficient authority to direct resources where he believed they were needed. In addition, Senator Collins has also expressed concern that it currently takes months for the CIA director to redirect funds in a manner he deems appropriate to meet the needs of the agency and our national security.

Specifically, Senator Collins asked McLaughlin whether he supports giving the National Intelligence Director the authority to oversee the budgets of the federal intelligence agencies, a proposal endorsed by the 9-11 Commission.

McLaughlin responded by telling Senator Collins that the Administration is examining numerous related proposals including full budget authority for the NID, but that he personally agreed that the NID should have greater authority.

Senator Collins supports providing the NID with greater authority over intelligence budgets than the current CIA director has.

“One of the most important recommendations made by the 9-11 Commission is to provide the new National Intelligence Director with sufficient authority to get the job done. Otherwise, we risk creating yet another layer of bureaucracy in the intelligence system,” said Senator Collins.

Senator Collins plans to have related legislation drafted in September and sent to the full Senate by October 1.