- Intelligence Committee Passes Bill
The Associated Press, 9/7/2001
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Code-breakers and spy masters would receive more money under an
intelligence bill approved Thursday by the Senate Intelligence
The intelligence budget finances the CIA, National Security Agency and
other intelligence agencies and is secret, although it is widely
estimated at more than $30 billion.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., called the
money in the bill ``the first installment of a multiyear effort to
correct serious deficiencies that have developed over the past decade in
the intelligence community.''
The intelligence authorization bill, which establishes the agencies'
operating budgets for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, did not disclose
amounts of increase over the fiscal 2001 spending.
The National Security Agency, which already receives the largest share
of intelligence dollars, will receive more for its ``revitalization,''
the committee said in a statement.
The NSA gathers and analyzes information from broadcasts, computers and
other electronic means of communication. It has fallen behind the
commercial sector in computer technology, analysts say. The agency
suffered a massive computer failure in January 2000 that paralyzed its
ability to analyze data for several days.
Among other challenges facing the NSA is to figure out how to break
through rapidly spreading encryption technologies, tap communications
traveling through fiber-optic lines and find linguists to translate
less-common languages, said James Bamford. He is the author of ``Body of
Secrets,'' a book detailing the workings of the supersecret agency.
``In the past it was fairly easy; you get all these Russian linguists,''
he said. ``Russia made up 80 percent of NSA's work. Today it's about 15
percent. NSA's problem is you never know where a crisis is going to
The authorization bill also provides increases for ``human
intelligence'' - traditional spying - which probably will translate into
more CIA case officers overseas, said a senior intelligence official,
speaking on the condition of anonymity.
With the United States no longer facing a single adversary in the Soviet
Union, case officers must be able to find sources in terrorist groups,
drug traffickers and arms dealers as well as undercover agents in
nations that oppose U.S. interests, the official said.
The bill also emphasizes correcting the imbalance between the reams of
data that U.S. intelligence agencies collect but don't have the
resources to analyze, the committee statement says.
In addition, the bill sets up a Justice Department-led task force that
will have until May 1 to prepare a report on leaks to the press of
classified information, congressional officials said.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., ranking minority member of the committee,
pushed for a law criminalizing all leaks of classified information, but
the Bush administration told him this week it would not support the
Instead, Attorney General John Ashcroft proposed the interagency group
to study whether leaks have damaged national security. Depending on its
findings, any changes to secrecy laws would come after the report was
presented to Congress.