John Negroponte, the President's pick for the first Director of National Intelligence (DNI), hasn't even been confirmed for the job yet, but he is already facing serious turf battles in the U.S. intelligence community. One sign of trouble on the horizon: the Defense Department's intelligence chief, Stephen Cambone, is having aides draft a previously undisclosed "charter" for his office that would consolidate his power as the DNI's main point of contact for the Pentagon's myriad intelligence agencies, which consume some 80% of the estimated $40 billion U.S. intelligence budget. The detailed charter appears to extend Cambone's authority over such Pentagon intel units as the eavesdropping National Security Agency and the satellite-snooping National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and potentially over the military's human-intelligence operations. According to a U.S. official, the charter also seems intended to boost the Pentagon at the expense of the CIA. Cambone "would like to be a mini-DNI," says a senior intelligence official.
With Negroponte's confirmation hearings scheduled for this week, Pentagon defenders say that Cambone's office is required to have a charter and that it is doing some streamlining to help the DNI. "I think it's wise," Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner says of the charter. "That's not going to limit [Negroponte] if he wants to call someone else" at one of the Pentagon's many intel shops.
But critics wonder why the charter wasn't written long ago-- Cambone took the job in March 2003--and say the Pentagon appears to be circling its wagons to ensure that it doesn't lose any power. Says the senior intelligence official: "I don't know how much this is Rumsfeld wanting one dog to kick within the Pentagon or Rumsfeld wanting to undercut the DNI."
Another power struggle may be shaping up between the DNI and the FBI. Although FBI director Robert Mueller told Negroponte in a March 30 meeting arranged by the National Security Council that he is "open" to new ideas, a U.S. intelligence source tells TIME that Mueller has signaled his opposition to recent recommendations by a White House intelligence commission to bring more FBI intel functions under the DNI's purview. At least Negroponte, who is leaving his post as U.S. ambassador to Iraq for the DNI nomination, is used to being under fire. --By Timothy J. Burger and Brian Bennett