Saturday, January 2, 2010

Background on the Director of National Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis

The fundamental responsibility of intelligence services is to provide information to
support policymakers and military commanders. In reviewing the performance of the U.S.
Intelligence Community prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 9/11
Commission, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,
concluded that greater coordination of the nation’s intelligence effort is required to
enhance the collection and analysis of information. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission
recommended that a new position of National Intelligence Director (NID) be established
to ensure greater inter-agency coordination. A number of legislative proposals were
introduced in 2004 to establish such an office separate from the Director of the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA).1

The NID was envisioned by the 9/11 Commission as having a number of budgetary
and managerial responsibilities.2 In addition, the occupant of the position would “retain
the present DCI’s role as the principal intelligence adviser to the president.”3 The
Commission also envisioned that the NID who would “be confirmed by the Senate and
would testify before Congress, would have a relatively small staff of several hundred
people, taking the place of the existing community management offices housed at the
CIA.”4 The Commission adds, however, that “We hope the president will come to look
directly to the directors of the national intelligence centers [the National Counterterrorism
Center, and other centers focusing on WMD proliferation, international crime and
narcotics, and China/East Asia] to provide all-source analysis in their areas of
responsibility, balancing the advice of these intelligence chiefs against the contrasting
viewpoints that may be offered by department heads at State, Defense, Homeland
Security, Justice, and other agencies.”5

There is some debate whether the 9/11 Commission envisioned the NID as having
the responsibility for coordinating national intelligence estimates and other community
products. The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) has been responsible for providing
intelligence to the President, to the heads of departments and agencies of the Executive
Branch, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior military commanders, and
“where appropriate” the Senate and House of Representatives and the committees thereof.
The statute provides that “such national intelligence should be timely, objective,
independent of political considerations, and based upon all sources available to the
intelligence community.”6 Draft legislation in the fall of 2004 did include the assignment
of responsibilities for preparing national intelligence estimates to the DNI.

On December 17, 2004, the President approved the Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (hereafter the “Intelligence Reform Act”)(P.L. 108-
458). The Act incorporated many of the proposals of the 9/11 Commission, including the
establishment of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) separate from the Director of
the CIA. Although most of the debates prior to passage of the legislation addressed the
DNI’s responsibilities for managing the intelligence budget, the Act also made a number
of changes affecting the preparation of analytical products for consumers at the highest
levels of government. The DNI will serve as head of the Intelligence Community and as
the principal adviser to the President and the National Security Council, and the
Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security.7


1 For further detail on various legislative proposals, see CRS Report RL32600, Comparison of
9/11 Commission Recommended Intelligence Reforms, Roberts Draft Bill, H.R. 4104, S. 190, S.
1520, S. 6, H.R. 4584, Current Law; also, CRS Report RL32601, Comparison of 9/11
Commission Recommended Intelligence Reforms, Collins/Lieberman Draft Bill, S. 2774, H.R.
5024, Administration Proposal, and Current Law.

2 See CRS Report RL32506, The Position of Director of National Intelligence: Issues for

3 U.S., National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission
Report (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2004), p. 411.

4 Ibid., p. 414. (Subsequently, there appears to be a growing consensus to locate the NID outside
the Executive Office of the President.)

5 9/11 Commission Report, p. 411.

6 50 USC 403-3(a)(2).

7 P.L. 108-487, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2005, signed on December 23, 2004,
provides that the DCI may discharge the functions of the DNI until the DNI is appointed.

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