A war, not a battle

Intelligence experts characterized the latest report on the bill from the House Armed Services Committee as little more than a tool in the struggle for control over the intelligence budget between the House and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Others said the debate centers on the larger questions of reforming the intelligence community and who should be in charge.

"It's just one more instance of the turf battle over intelligence," said Steven

Aftergood, an intelligence specialist with the Federation of American Scientists. "The basic question is, will there be a strong director of central intelligence who is in charge of the whole community? The Defense Department says no."

Furthermore, "because of the ongoing militarization of intelligence, my bet is that the Pentagon will get its way," he said.

Robert Steele, a 25-year veteran of the intelligence community and author of the recent book "On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World," said the Information Age has challenged the whole notion of having a central agency responsible for intelligence. "In the age of distributed information, the concept of central intelligence is an oxymoron," Steele said.

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