White House memo sides with CIA in inter-agency turf war

For several months now, I have been keeping tabs on a bitter inter-agency turf war between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Now a Los Angeles Times article by Greg Miller confirms what intelNews reported on November 18, namely that the White House has come down in favor of the CIA position in the dispute.

The turf war began last July, when DNI Dennis Cutler Blair argued in a still-classified directive that his office, and not the CIA, as has been the case for over 60 years, should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. But the White House refused to validate Blair’s request. So, in November, the Office of the DNI hit back by announcing it would be evaluating all “sensitive CIA operations overseas” including all of the CIA’s active paramilitary and espionage operations abroad.

It now appears that the White House has decided to put out the fire by issuing a sharply worded internal memo, which, according to Miller, “deflects [the] power move by Blair” and “asserts the [CIA’s] direct authority” over US paramilitary and espionage operations abroad. Some sources indicate that the memo also prompts the CIA to cooperate with DNI Blair, whose office is technically superior to that of CIA director Leon Edward Panetta. But most insiders suggest that CIA officials were “very pleased with the outcome of the White House directive” and that “[o]n all the key points, the CIA’s equities were protected”. In any case, Blair appears determined to retort before too long.

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