By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page A02
President Bush ordered a major restructuring of the nation’s intelligence-gathering community yesterday, approving new guidelines aimed at bolstering the authority of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as the leader of the nation’s 16 spy agencies.
The long-awaited overhaul of Executive Order 12333 gives the DNI greater control over spending and priority-setting, and also over contacts with foreign intelligence services — a responsibility that has traditionally fallen to the CIA, according to a Bush administration document describing the changes.
Executive Order 12333, which was originally issued by President Ronald Regan in 1981, established the powers and responsibilities of the major U.S. intelligence services. Administration officials have been quietly negotiating the overhaul for more than a year, seeking to modernize the law to reflect the new role of the DNI as the head of the intelligence community. The DNI was created by Congress three years ago in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but critics have charged that the agency was not given the budgetary and policy-setting authorities it needs to lead the intelligence community.
Details of the revamped order were expected to be unveiled by the White House today, but a summary of the major changes was spelled out in a White House PowerPoint presentation shared in advance with congressional oversight committees. The eight-page slide presentation was obtained by The Washington Post.
The main purpose of the reforms was to “clarify and strengthen the role of the DNI as head of the intelligence community,” the presentation states. The new order gives the DNI primary authority to issue “overarching policies and procedures” and to ensure that intelligence collection is coordinated among the 16 agencies. It also conveys greater power to set spending priorities and establish standards for training and tradecraft.
In one of the more controversial changes, the new order allows the DNI to formulate policy for engaging with the intelligence agencies and security services of other countries — a role traditionally held by the CIA. But the new policy stipulates that the CIA would “coordinate implementation” of those policies.
Left essentially unchanged is a prohibition against assassinations of foreign leaders, as well as long-standing restrictions on “human experimentation,” the document states. It asserts that the intelligence community would “maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberty protections.”