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Posted at 10:30 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Egypt intel: Panel wants to know who's in charge

By Jeff Stein

Several years after creating a new intelligence czar to coordinate the work of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, Congress is still asking questions about who’s in charge.

The question came up again Thursday in a hearing on the nomination of Stephanie O'Sullivan to be the deputy czar, or principal deputy director of national intelligence.

The sharpest questions to O'Sullivan, a top career CIA official who once headed its science and technology directorate, were about Egypt. But members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were also curious about who was in charge of figuring out what's going on there--and the rest of the world.

Committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted that O’Sullivan had said she would be “responsible for ensuring the adequate and appropriate resources, policies and process to maximize intelligence integration."

But doesn’t the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, already have someone for that? wondered Feinstein.

She noted that the latest reorganization of the office, in August, created a new position of deputy for intelligence integration. The director of national intelligence, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., gave the job to a top Defense Intelligence Agency official, Robert Cardillo.

“Who is in charge of making sure intelligence information is integrated and shared across the intelligence community?" Feinstein asked. "Would it be you, if you're confirmed, or is it Mr. Cardillo?”

“The director of national intelligence has set the agenda, and he has the primary responsibility,” said O’Sullivan. “Both Robert Cardillo and I will fully support his objective of doing that. So I would feel bound to answer that call, and I would feel that that would be a primary responsibility that I carried. “

Feinstein: “Now I'm confused. You're saying that he has the primary responsibility.”

O’Sullivan: “General Clapper has the primary responsibility, and both of us will be supporting him in that role.”

Feinstein was still confused.

“Well, who makes sure that intelligence is integrated and shared across the community?” she asked again. “Which person?”

“That would probably fall into my area of primary responsibility,” O’Sullivan said, “as I understand the structure of the office.”

Two other senators on the panel, Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also had questions abut the role of the ODNI, which was created in 2004.

O'Sullivan told Feinstein that “Robert Cardillo's primary role is in integrating collection and analysis and identifying intelligence gaps, which are then passed to the rest of the community to affect solutions. I would be responsible for overseeing the process of the trades and implementation across the rest of the community.”

“Good,” Feinstein said. ”Now that's very clear and on the record, so thank you.”

By Jeff Stein  | February 3, 2011; 10:30 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Foreign policy, Intelligence, Politics  | Tags:  Stephanie O'Sullivan; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Gen. James Clapper; Robert Cardillo  
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