BUSH orders comprehensive review of intelligence agencies

Saturday, May 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. intelligence to determine whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies can protect their own secrets.

He also is asking for a recommendation on whether to spend more on new ways of collecting foreign intelligence.

In a White House memorandum released Friday, Bush said the review would be conducted by CIA Director George Tenet, working with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Tenet has ``a broad mandate to challenge the status quo and explore new and innovative techniques, systems, practices and processes'' for foreign intelligence collections, analysis and distribution, Bush wrote.

Bush signed the document, called a ``national security presidential directive,'' on Wednesday. He gave no indication that his request was prompted by any particular problems or failings of the intelligence community.

But Bush did say that timely and accurate intelligence is essential to the success of U.S. foreign policy, law enforcement and defense strategies, and expressed a desire to ``ensure that U.S. intelligence capabilities are honed to serve us on a wide range of critical challenges that face us now and in the future.''

In February, an FBI counterintelligence officer, Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested on charges of selling national security secrets to Moscow. Hanssen was a 20-year FBI veteran with access to highly sensitive information and carried on his alleged spying activities for 15 years without being detected by his bosses.

The CIA has not had a high-profile counterintelligence failure since the Aldrich Ames spying case in 1994.

Under Bush's directive, Tenet would seat two panels, one comprised of nongovernmental members, to conduct the review. The nongovernmental panel would be named in consultation with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Both panels would assess current intelligence capabilities and ``future requirements'' in the area of science and technology and ``fusion of multiple source data.'' They would make recommendations to Bush on consolidating activities and/or agencies involved in intelligence gathering, modifying budget processes and streamlining acquisition.

Because they will be dealing with intelligence matters, the panels will deliberate in secret. They are expected to give a report to Bush this summer.