Four Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) counterterrorism programs -- including a component created to investigate the aftermath of Edward Snowden's leaks -- are slated to be "eliminated or re-aligned" by the House Intelligence Committee after a comprehensive review and complaints of mismanagement arose, Circa has learned.
The committee's review of the 70-year-old military intelligence apparatus led to a unanimous vote of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, part of which focuses on the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) core missions “by eliminating several DIA components and functions or realigning those components to other intelligence agencies," according to the IAA.
In the preliminary IAA report released Tuesday, the committee stated that the programs being re-assigned "have detracted from DIA’s ability to execute its primary mission: providing intelligence on foreign militaries and operating environments that delivers an information advantage to prevent and decisively win wars."
A committee official said there was concern that the agency wasn't delivering on its current programs and it "found some areas where DIA could operate more efficiently.”
Due to the nature of the various program's operational objectives, details of possible mismanagement and redundancy have not been released publicly.
The bill was supported by both Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Schiff lauded that the bill “is the product of months of oversight and examination and a bipartisan commitment to the nation's security.”
On Monday night, however, the bill was blocked by Democrats, who at the urging of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged party lawmakers to vote against the legislation because passing it under suspension, which are special rules that prohibit amendments.
"It passed last year twice on suspension and once by unanimous consent," the senior congressional official added. "For political purposes they voted against the bill they all actually supported - it will more than likely go to the Rules Committee, where they will use it to publicly propose amendments."
One of the bill's components slated for elimination from the DIA is the Information Review Task Force [IRTF], which works in conjunction with several other intelligence agencies. The program is tasked to assess damage when intelligence material is stolen or leaked to the public, according to DIA officials.
This component of the DIA was set up after Snowden publicly released highly classified material to WikiLeaks and was "instrumental in assessing damage done by documents stolen by Edward Snowden that were later revealed by a number of media outlets,” DIA spokesman James M. Kudla told Circa.
The task force revealed that Snowden took over 900,000 documents from the DOD and "could negatively impact future military operations," according to the IRTF report.
The IRTF task force "should be transferred to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a Chairman’s Controlled Activity," the committee proposed in their report.
Kudla added that "we are early in the legislative process, that these proposals are just that and we have a way to go before the bill is final, so we might see changes before the bill is enacted.
"Thus, it would be inappropriate to discuss the possible implications of these proposals in detail."
The committee was concerned that the agency wasn’t delivering what it was set out to do and “there has been mismanagement within the DIA under its current director and some of these programs are being duplicated in other agencies,” said a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the review.
Kudla disagrees with the assessment, saying, "the high demand for DIA intelligence from the battlefield to the halls of power in Washington, D.C., speaks volumes about the value and trust our customers place in the products and intelligence DIA provides.
"DIA's dedicated intelligence professionals are stationed in over 140 countries around the globe, often in harm's way, to include on the ground in support of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Marine Corp Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, who formerly served as the head of Marine Forces Cyber, is currently director of the DIA. He is slated to be the deputy commander at U.S. Cyber Command, a Department of Defense notice announced.
OTHER DIA PROGRAMS TO BE REALIGNED OR ELIMINATED
Other programs to be eliminated or realigned are the DIA’s Watchlisting Branch, which works with law enforcement and other intelligence agencies on combating the movement of terrorists; Identity Intelligence Project Office, a DIA component that works with other agencies on methods to identify terrorists and foreign intelligence entities; Counter Threat Finance Office, a DIA component that also works alongside other intelligence agencies combating the financing of terrorist organizations and organized criminal networks, and The National Intelligence University.
The committee's report suggests the following:
1. Watchlisting Branch: "This component should be transferred to the Director for Intelligence of the Joint Staff because it better aligns with the Joint Staff’s warning mission."
2. Identity Intelligence Project Office: "Housed within the Defense Combating Terrorism Center (DCTC), I2PO is DIA’s focal point for DoD identity intelligence and coordinates DoD identity intelligence requirements and capabilities. Sufficient processes are in place for DoD identity intelligence management. The existence of a separate office that serves solely as a coordinating body for this function is unnecessary and should be eliminated."
3. Counter Threat Finance Office Branch: should be eliminated because CTF is not a core defense intelligence mission and is redundant of identical functions performed by other DoD components and IC agencies, including the Department of the Treasury.
Kudla said there is “continuing dialogue with our Congressional oversight committees.”
“We work with them to achieve the best alignment of missions and resources to ensure agency efficiency and effectiveness."