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CIA Official Talks About Agency Shortfall

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Even with a period of growth since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Central Intelligence Agency still has fewer employees than it had at the end of the Cold War, the agency's No. 3 official said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, CIA Associate Deputy Director Michael J. Morell said ``resources are very tight'' to fight wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism.

Although employee numbers are classified, Morell said the agency shrunk between 25% and 30% from 1991-2001, due mainly to budget constraints.

``To deal with all of the issues that are on the front plate today, terrorism proliferation, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, it's very important to have the resources to do what we call global coverage,'' Morell said. ``You never know when the next crisis is going to come.''

Morell, 48, was in town to speak at the annual meeting of The Committee of 100-Tulsa Inc., a private group that raises money for the families of police officers and firefighters wounded or killed in the line of duty.

He was invited by Ken Levit, former president of The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and committee board member. Levit and Morell were colleagues while Levit served as counsel to the director of the CIA from 1998-2000.

``There's a real kinship between this local organization and the work of the CIA,'' Levit said. ``It's an organization that often doesn't receive the amount of public appreciation it's due.''

Morell did not comment when asked about the options the CIA had available to counteract Iran's influence in the Middle East, or whether the agency had been authorized by the president to take covert action against the country.

This week, media reports stated that the U.S. was engaged in a covert mission to destabilize the Iranian government.

``Leaks of classified information really put our national security at risk,'' said Morell, who could not comment on the specific reports. ``it gives our adversaries the advantage.''
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