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Undercover official to oversee new spy service

A top CIA manager who remains undercover will oversee the nation's traditional human spying activities.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A top CIA manager who remains undercover will soon oversee the traditional human spying activities for the entire intelligence community, a new position created in the post-Sept. 11 intelligence reforms.

Publicly, he is referred to simply as “Jose,” said U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan’s full details had yet to be released.

Jose’s posting as head of the new National Clandestine Service ends weeks of debate over whether the CIA would retain its role as the primary agency responsible for traditional human spywork, as an increasing number of U.S. national security agencies take on this type of work.

He’ll now broadly coordinate operations for the FBI, Defense Department and other agencies involved in human intelligence, or the information gathered by people, rather than by technical means.

Jose now serves as the director of the CIA’s clandestine service, which handles the agency’s human intelligence gathering.

“This is another positive step in building an Intelligence Community that is more unified, coordinated and effective,” National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said in a statement about the new service Thursday.

Forming a National Clandestine Service was one of more than 70 recommendations from President Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction, which released a bruising report in March about the current capabilities of the 15 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

The report concluded that the “toughest targets remain largely impenetrable” to human spying operations.

CIA Director Porter Goss drafted a plan that would place the National Clandestine Service under his chain of command. The plan’s acceptance is viewed as a victory for the CIA.

Intelligence veterans have said for months that any arrangement that somehow undermined the CIA’s role as the top producer of human intelligence would hurt the agency’s clout and deepen problems with agency morale.

In a statement, Goss said the decision represents “an expression of confidence in the CIA” from Bush and Negroponte. “No agency has greater skill and experience in this difficult, complex, and utterly vital discipline of intelligence,” Goss said.