CIA creates new counter-proliferation center
The CIA announced plans Wednesday to create a counter-proliferation center that would combine analysts and operatives in an effort to bolster the agency's work against the spread of dangerous weapons technology.
The new center would be modeled on the counter-terrorism office that the CIA created more than a decade ago, and expanded dramatically in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But a CIA-run counter-proliferation center could also overlap with a similar, multi-agency organization that was set up in 2005. The National Counterproliferation Center describes itself as "the primary organization within the intelligence community" for coordinating U.S. efforts against the spread of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said the agency's aim is to allow analysts and case officers to "work side-by-side," providing "precise, comprehensive" support to agency-led operations overseas.
The CIA has led covert U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons technology, and has also been involved in tracking al-Qaeda's efforts to acquire chemical and other banned weapons.
But the agency also played a major role in the erroneous assessments that Iraq had stockpiles of illicit weapons - judgments used by the Bush administration to make the case for the 2003 U.S. invasion of that country.
The agency's new center will combine two organizations that had until now functioned separately within the CIA's headquarters - the counter-proliferation division of the National Clandestine Service, which carries out overseas operations, as well as the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center, or WINPAC, which is part of the CIA's analytic branch.
"Our greatest achievements as an agency are the product of close collaboration among operations officers, analysts, targeters, technical specialists, and support officers," Panetta said.
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