After the creation of the CIA in 1947, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) held many positions besides directing the CIA. One of the DCI’s extra duties was to coordinate intelligence undertakings amid the entire United States intelligence community (IC). The DCI was considered the main intelligence advisor to the President and the National Security Council (NSC) as well. For as long as the DCI had been in charge of managing the entire U.S. IC, there has been conflict and bureaucratic turf wars amongst the intelligence agencies over this role (Richelson 2012, 468).
However, after the unfortunate terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 9/11 Commission Report suggested the creation of a new position to take over the DCI’s extra responsibilities, a position that supersedes the power of the DCI’s authority and leadership over the IC. Following the 9/11 Commission Report, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) established the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) position (Rosenbach et al. 2009, 14). This newly created position assumed complete oversight and leadership over the entire U.S. IC. The DNI duties were to “organize and coordinate the efforts of the agencies and manage the implementation of the National Intelligence Program.” (“Week one: Overview,”) Besides the DNI’s duties as the head of the intelligence community, DNI serves as the primary intelligence advisor the President, the NSC, and the Homeland Security Council (HSC) on subjects associated with U.S. national security. (“Policy Directive for,”)
One of the aspects of the intelligence community that the DNI enjoys more authority and leadership over than the DCI is tasking and responsibilities. The DNI is responsible for managing national intelligence centers such as the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX), and the National Counter-proliferation Center (NCPC) on specific topics of interest across the U.S. government. He also manages the NIP and directs the agencies that contribute to it (Richelson 2012, 469). In addition to that, the IRTPA expanded the DNI’s tasking power “over that possessed by the DCIs stating that the DNI shall establish objectives, priorities, and guidance for the IC”, as well as “manage and direct the tasking of collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence…by approving requirements and resolving conflicts.” (“Policy Directive for,”) The DCIs did not possess this authority as each intelligence agency collected and analyzed independently in accordance with their ongoing operations and requirements.
Furthermore, the DNI has the overall authority over the intelligence community’s budget and funding, authorities that the DCIs did not have. When it comes to budget, the DNI provides management for developing the NIP annual budget according to the intelligence agencies proposals and recommendations. He then “ensures the proper execution of this budget and manages NIP appropriations by directing the allotment or allocation of such appropriations through the heads of the departments” allowing him the chance to regulate spending. (“Policy Directive for,”) The DNI also contributes in the development of the military intelligence program (MIP) budget. On the other hand, the DNI has control over the steps of the IC’s spending and is able to deny funds until the intended agencies abide by DNI spending priorities. The IRTPA obligates the DNI to “inform congress if a departmental comptroller refuses to act in accordance with a DNI spending directive.” (Richelson 2012, 469)
Another difference between the DNI and the DCI is their relationship with other members of the IC is personnel management. The DNI has the authority to transfer and assign personnel and staff for up to two years from one agency or national intelligence center to another without concurrence of the agency’s director. DCIs were obligated to acquire concurrence before transferring personnel. This particular relationship between the DNI and other members of the IC, allows the DNI to assign and transfer the needed personnel to staff to a newly created national intelligence center appropriately. Likewise, the DNI enjoys other relationships with the IC and they are coordination with foreign governments, management of counternarcotic operations, information management, and security and counterintelligence management. The DNI’s relationship with members of the IC authorizes him to ensure complete leadership and supervision of the IC’s activities and operational progress, relationships and roles that the DCIs did not have prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Additionally, The DNI has a unique relationship with the administration, unlike the DCIs. The DNI is responsible for recommending candidates to the president for positions of heads of intelligence agencies and national security departments. The DNI’s approval and concurrence of these candidates prior to their appointments is required. (“Policy Directive for,”)
Moreover, the DNI is authorized to report all intelligence activities to congress for congressional oversight and evaluation. The DNI informs congress’ intelligence committees of intelligence operations and covert actions and to keep them informed of the progress made in ongoing operations, anticipated intelligence activities, and any major intelligence failures (“Policy Directive for,”). He does so in a manner “consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters” (“Policy Directive for,”) to allow congressional select committees on intelligence to carry out their legal tasks.
The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) had the authority to manage and lead the entire U.S. intelligence community. The DCI was also the main intelligence advisor to the President and the National Security Council (NSC). However, after the unfortunate terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 9/11 commission report suggested the creation of a new position to take control over the DCI’s extra responsibilities, a position that supersedes the DCI’s authority and leadership over the IC. The entire intelligence community went through necessary reforms to adapt and reorganize in order to be able to successfully and effectively tackle the new dangers of transitional terrorism threatening the U.S. national security. This newly created DNI’s authority far exceeded the authority the DCIs used to have. These reforms to the intelligence community and the creation of a new intelligence czar proved to be very suitable to counter the asymmetric threats during the global war on terror, as well as other dangers such as foreign intelligence collection and the war on the drugs.
“Policy Directive for Intelligence Community Leadership.” Intelligence Community Directive Number 1, 2006.
Richelson, Jeffery T. The US Intelligence Community. Philadelphia: Perseus Books Group, 2012.
Rosenbach, Eric, & Peritz, Aki J. “Organization of the Intelligence Community.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2009