learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

In both January and February 1996, the team held “NIMA Days’’ at its offices in

Reston, inviting staffers from all relevant committees out for briefings to explain “Why

NIMA and Why Now?’’ About nineteen staffers came to the first, representing Appropriations,

Armed Services and the Intelligence Committees. Staff members from the Aspin-

Brown Commission were present as well. Sharon Basso remembers it was at the first session

that Eric Thoemmes, a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, became convinced

that “we knew what we were doing. He had been skeptical prior to that point. From that

day on, he was the staffer who successfully eliminated many obstacles on the Hill. 443 The

February event drew other staffers from the same committees plus DoD representatives.

444 The team also went to the Hill to hold meetings with all the appropriate committee

Staff Directors in February.

Edward Obloy, the team’s legal counsel and Chairman of the Legal Working Group,

described three most contentious issues the legislative strategy had to take into account:

(1) personnel issues to include how to keep employee unions in DMA and whether to

transfer CIA personnel into NIMA, (2) how to ensure both a strategic and tactical focus

for the agency, and (3) who (the DCI or SecDef) should be responsible for collection and

tasking. Compromise characterized the final solution to all three concerns.

The union issue was particularly sensitive because it was an election year, and the

White House had no intention of alienating a key constituency. The Intelligence Community

has always prohibited unions based on national security concerns, but clearly an

exception had to be made for DMA union members or the NIMA concept was not going

to make it out of the executive branch. Leo Hazlewood remembers that Harold Ickes,

White House Deputy Chief of Staff, became personally involved in resolving the issue.

Union members were eventually accepted into NIMA with resolution of the issue

deferred until after NIMA was established.

The strategic and tactical focus was resolved through language placed in both Title 10

and Title 50. The CJCS was placed in charge of reviewing NIMA’s ability to provide combat

support and the DCI was tasked to review its ability to provide support to its nationallevel

customers. Likewise, collection and tasking responsibilities were placed in both

Title 10 and 50. Thus NIMA officially, by statute, serves two masters — the DCI and Sec-

Def-and two congressional overseers — Armed Services and Intelligence.

On the floor of the Senate, Senator Kerrey explained his position concerning

NIMA’s status as a combat support agency, which would distance NIMA from the four

defense agencies officially designated by Congress as combat support agencies. He

reminded the Senate that the term was first used in the Goldwater-Nichols Defense

Reorganization Act of 1986 to describe DoD agencies that have wartime support func-

442 Basso interview.

443 “IMA News,” Internal DIA Report, Feb 1996.

444 Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), Congressional Record (26 June 1996), vol 142, no. 96, S7012-13. The four

combat support agencies specified in Goldwater-Nichols are the Defense Communications Agency, Defense

Intelligence Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, and the Defense Mapping Agency.


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