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Experts: Intel chief not in White House

Aug. 4, 2004 at 2:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A panel of experts and former officials told lawmakers Wednesday a new intelligence chief should not sit in the White House.

Gen. William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre and Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution testified before a rare summer recess hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The hearing was one of a long series called by congressional leaders to consider the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission, which last month recommended a wholesale restructuring of the 15 U.S. intelligence agencies, and the appointment of a new national intelligence director, based in the White House, to manage them all.

"I disagree quite strongly that we ought to put the (new director) in the White House.," Hamre told Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., because "you'll create a competitive power center against the national security adviser" and because it is "not a good idea" to bring "covert operations and everything into the White House."

Odom and O'Hanlon agreed, citing concerns about politicization of intelligence.

President Bush Monday proposed a new director, of cabinet rank, but not based in the White House.

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