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Congress Deletes Two Words in the National Security Act of 1947

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...or Hail Sejanus!

I happened to be reading the section on the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 in the Congressional Record, December 16, 2011, and something seemed to pop out as if to say... look how buried in this bill these words are:

SEC. 505. TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS TO THE NATIONAL SECURITY ACT OF 1947.
The National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.) is amended--
(1) in section 3(6) (50 U.S.C. 401a(6)), by striking "Director of Central Intelligence'' and inserting "Director of National Intelligence'';
(2) in section 506(b) (50 U.S.C. 415a(b)), by striking ""Director of Central Intelligence.'' and inserting "Director of National Intelligence.'';
and
(3) in section 506A(c)(2)(C) (50 U.S.C. 415a-- 1(c)(2)(C), by striking "National Foreign Intelligence Program'' both places that term appears and inserting "National Intelligence Program''

The key here is section 506A(c)(2)(C), which now states (notice the strikeout illustrating the revision):

(C) an assessment of the consequences for the funding of all programs of the National Foreign Intelligence Program in future fiscal years if the most current independent cost estimate for the major system is accurate and additional appropriations are required in future fiscal years to ensure the continued development or procurement of the major system, including the consequences of such funding shortfalls on the major system and all other programs of the National Foreign Intelligence Program;

The Director of National Intelligence (currently James R. Clapper, Jr.), per the ODNI's website, "serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC), overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security."


Seal of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence by Public Domain

Also from the ODNI website, the Director has responsibility for "overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program (budget) and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. Working together with the Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI), the Office of the DNI's goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad."

The change in the statute codifies the budget oversight, which, I presume, will lose the parentheses soon.

Perhaps more importantly, on the face of it, it appears to give the Director of National Intelligence oversight of the budget of the CIA. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 established the DNI as a coordinating entity, acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. It was supposed to establish objectives for intelligence collection, analysis and distribution, and coordinate budgets submitted by the component organizations.

This change suggests something closer to what the ODNI website describes as a longstanding intention: "the idea of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) dates to 1955 when a blue-ribbon study commissioned by Congress recommended that the Director of Central Intelligence should employ a deputy to run the CIA so that the director could focus on coordinating the overall intelligence effort." The Director came into existence exactly fifty years later, and now six years afterwards, the Director appears to have final recommendation to the President regarding the amounts of the C.I.A. budget, as well as the intelligence budgets of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines, and last but not least, the U.S. Navy.

That such a substantial change in who oversees "the power of the purse" is buried so deeply in the Congressional Record is troubling. It is probably the case that this power was transferred some time ago and this is a belated acknowledgement. Yet such a leveraging of a nominally small bureau into such a powerful one recalls, at least to me, the rise of Lucius Aelius Seianus, commonly known as Sejanus. He oversaw the growth in the role of the Praetorian Guard from merely serving as bodyguard to the Emperor into the areas of public security and civil administration.

Not to mention the further blurring of the statutory role of "foreign intelligence" to "intelligence."

I have seen very little comment upon this change, at least not by searching the Web. The nearest thing I see to a report is the picking up of a press release by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in the Cedartown Standard: "provides the Director of National Intelligence with needed personnel management authorities during a period of strained federal budgets." The note was in a section of the paper's website called "The Fish Wrap."


This article originally appeared at scribillare.com

 

I am a professional in the computer field whose specialty is databases. I grew up, went to school in, and lived in New York for many years. I have lived in Florida for twenty years now, and it is a wonderful place to see and experience nature. I am (more...)
 

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Oddly enough, a web search on "the Fishwrap" and "... by John Iacovelli on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 10:22:14 AM
is striking the word "Foreign" from "National Fore... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 11:36:08 AM
That is indeed the disturbing quality about this n... by John Iacovelli on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 12:31:01 PM
Taken together with the "anti-terror" provisions o... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 1:06:20 PM
 only 17%, think government even has the con... by Larry Kachimba on Friday, Dec 23, 2011 at 11:05:50 PM