White House Order Ramps Up Spy Boss Powers

Historic overhaul signed by prez
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2008 5:36 AM CDT
President Bush, accompanied by the Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, left, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 10,2008.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – A sweeping overhaul of spy powers will give the director of national intelligence broad new authority, reports the Wall Street Journal. Mike McConnell will be able to command information-sharing between agencies, hire and fire agency heads, and make major purchase decisions under a new executive order signed yesterday by President Bush and to be announced today, say officials briefed on the changes.

The overhaul, in the works for a year, is said to have triggered intense turf battles among America's 16 intelligence agencies. The new rules put the director, a position created in 2004, firmly in charge and make it more difficult for agencies to resist his directives. Some lawmakers were frustrated about being kept out of the loop. "They did not consult Congress at all," complained one leigslator.