August 25, 2004


9/11 Panel Leader Has Praise for Plan to Split C.I.A.: Thomas H. Kean called a proposal to break up the C.I.A. and move other intelligence agencies outside the Pentagon a "constructive alternative" to the commission's proposals. (PHILIP SHENON, 8/25/04, NY Times)

The testimony Tuesday from Mr. Kean and the commission's deputy chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, may be useful to Mr. Roberts in pursuing his legislation, which has been fiercely attacked by several influential members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, and has clearly shocked officials at the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

Their comments suggested that Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton were willing to work with Mr. Roberts and his allies in the Senate and House to fashion legislation that would accomplish their common goal, an intelligence overhaul far more sweeping than anything that the Bush administration has suggested it would accept.

In a statement issued late Monday to employees of the C.I.A., the acting director of central intelligence, John E. McLaughlin, described Mr. Roberts's plan as a "step backward" and said, "We are nowhere near the end of this debate." He predicted that there would be no "breakup of the C.I.A. given the agency's vital front-line role in the war on terror."

President's don't often get handed opportunities to radically restructure the bureaucracy--Mr. Bush should seize this one. Centralization is a terrible idea; but you can do a lot of other constructive things--not least getting rid of CIA and tossing the civil service rules--under cover of the Roberts plan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2004 9:07 AM
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