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CIA considers ‘major’ changes, including breaking up spying, analysis divisions

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 20, 2014 10:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — CIA Director John Brennan is considering sweeping organizational changes that could include breaking up the separate spying and analysis divisions that have been in place for decades to make hybrid units focused on individual regions and threats to security, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

The proposal would essentially replicate the structure of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and other similar entities in the agency — an idea that reflects the CTC’s expanded role and influence since 9/11.

Officials emphasized that the proposal is in its preliminary stages and could be scaled back or even discarded. The idea has encountered opposition from current and former officials who have voiced concern that it would be too disruptive and might jeopardize critical capabilities and expertise.

But if Brennan moves forward, officials said, the changes would be among the most ambitious in CIA history — potentially establishing individual centers focused on China, Latin America and other regions or issues for which personnel are now dispersed across different parts of the agency.

“It’s a major deal,” said a former senior CIA official who has worked with Brennan. Asked for an example of a previous reorganization that was similar in scale, he replied, “I don’t think there has been one.”

Brennan appointed an internal CIA committee in September to evaluate the proposal as part of a broader review of the agency’s structure. In a message to the agency’s workforce, he cited the “rising number and complexity of security issues” such as the continued threat of al-Qaida, civil war in Syria and Russia’s incursions in Ukraine.

“I have become increasingly convinced that the time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized as an agency and at whether our current structure, and ways of doing business, need adjustment,” the message said, according to portions obtained by The Washington Post.

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