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DoD breaks with Bush over intel reform

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The most senior U.S. military official has publicly broken with the White House in the ongoing controversy over reforming U.S. intelligence.

In a letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Richard Myers makes it clear that he does not support the White House-backed proposal to give a new national spy chief budgetary control over three key intelligence agencies inside the Department of Defense.

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"The budgets of the combat support agencies should come up from the agencies through the secretary of defense," reads the letter, signed Thursday by Myers and obtained by United Press International.

"For appropriations," the letter continues, "it is likewise important that the appropriations are passed from the national intelligence director through the Department (of Defense) to the combat support agencies."

"Combat support agencies" encompasses the three bodies that build and run the United States' spy satellites and other eavesdropping equipment. They absorb more than 75 percent of the intelligence budget.

Myers says he supports the House version of the intelligence reform package currently being debated, but the White House -- in a letter to lawmakers signed by national security advisor Condoleezza Rice earlier this week -- and the Sept. 11 Commission support the Senate version.

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Reformers are adamant that without budgetary control over the agencies inside the Pentagon, the new spy chief will be toothless.

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