So long CIFA

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

The Pen­tagon is get­ting rid of the last ded­i­cated coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence unit in gov­ern­ment de­voted ex­clu­sively to iden­ti­fy­ing strate­gic for­eign spy­ing threats, a lit­tle­known unit called the Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence Field Ac­tiv­i­ties, or CIFA.

Anti-coun­ter­spy intelligence of­fi­cials at CIA had long dis­liked CIFA, which, while not per­fect, was mak­ing strides in fig­ur­ing out the threat posed by such ser­vices as the Ira­nian Min­istry of Intelligence and Se­cu­rity and China’s Min­istry of State Se­cu­rity.

Last month, De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates or­dered James Clap­per, the un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for intelligence, to fold CIFA into the De­fense Intelligence Agency.

The re­or­ga­ni­za­tion will cre­ate a new cen­ter within DIA called the De­fense CI and Humint Cen­ter (DCHC), headed by a DIA of­fi­cial.

Crit­ics in the intelligence com­mu­nity said the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion runs counter to the rec­om­men­da­tion of the panel set up af­ter the intelligence fail­ure on Iraq’s weapons pro­gram. The com­mis­sion called for giv­ing CIFA an op­er­a­tional role to go af­ter spies and ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers.

“CIFA may not have been ready for that role, but what they were do­ing was pro­vid­ing the brains be­hind what lit­tle op­er­a­tional coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­ity we have,” said one of­fi­cial. “They were help­ing us to be not just re­ac­tive, as the FBI is, but fig­ur­ing out how to de­feat the Ira­ni­ans.”

The re­or­ga­ni­za­tion was qui­etly pushed by el­e­ments of the CIA’s op­er­a­tion di­rec­torate, which viewed CIFA as an en­croach­ment on its turf.

DIA spokesman Don Black said a tran­si­tion team is now im­ple­ment­ing the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion within DIA and the new cen­ter could be up and run­ning by this sum­mer.

Pen­tagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Pa­trick Ry­der said the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion will “strengthen the de­part­ment’s — and the na­tion’s — ca­pa­bil­i­ties in both of th­ese im­por­tant dis­ci­plines,” both coun­ter­spy­ing and hu­man intelligence gath­er­ing.

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