CIA, Where Art Thou?

At a July 18 hearing on the CIA's alleged lack of cooperation with Congress, someone was notably missing: a CIA representative. CIA Director George Tenet sent a letter the day before to Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) —chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovern.mental Relations Subcommittee—saying that no one from the CIA would testify. The saga began when Horn's subcommittee asked the General Accounting Office to review the network security procedures for all executive branch agencies. All of the agencies cooperated fully—except the CIA.

The CIA claims that only the intelligence committees have oversight jurisdiction to review agency methods. "Methods" is interpreted by some as "intelligence gathering methods," but the CIA's position is that it could mean virtually anything, including shoe-tying. Tenet said that Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) made him do it. "My decision is fully compatible with the wishes of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who urged me not to testify at the 18 July hearing," Tenet wrote. That, of course, raises the question of just how Tenet defines "urged." Does it mean "suggested"? "Begged"? Or perhaps "ordered"?

Caught in the Middle

As the Pentagon and the Navy continue dickering over how extensively they should test the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the Marine Corps might get caught in the middle. If NMCI is tested to military standards — as Linton Wells II, acting Pentagon chief information officer, suggests — rather than commercial standards, the effort could be delayed a year.

By then, the Marines would have spent more than a little pocket change to keep the existing Marine Corps Enterprise Network online longer than planned, said William Wallenhorst, director of the Corps' fiscal division for programs and resources. "Our concern is that because we have stopped investing in the Marine Corps Enterprise Network—with the expectation [that NMCI] will be there in the third quarter of fiscal year 2002—if there's any great slippage in [NMCI], we will need to begin to reinvest in our existing systems," Wallenhorst said.

Read It Again, Sam

New Air Force Secretary James Roche said some intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, such as the Airborne Warning and Control System and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, are in such high demand that the planes and their crews are being stretched thin, and the Air National Guard may need to play a larger role in their operation. According to Roche, such systems are referred to as "low density, high demand" systems. Whoever coined that phrase, Roche said, "ought to be required to read books on syntax over and over and over."

Don't Hold Your Breath

Those antsy to see the fiscal 2002 Defense appropriations bill emerge from the congressional ooze should kick back and relax. For political reasons, the bill will likely be the last appropriations legislation to clear Congress, said Stanley Collender, budget analyst at Fleishman-Hillard. During a July 17 evaluation of the federal budget, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, Collender said the chances of a government shutdown are greater this year than at any time since the one in 1995. That's because of the tax cut, the economic downturn and the decision not to tap into the Medicare and Social Secur.ity funding surplus.

"The last appropriation that's going to be out is the Defense bill, because that's the one the Democrats in Congress want to make it look like is dipping into the Medicare trust fund," Collender said.

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