Sen John McCain, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked about this yesterday on Face the Nation. McCain is arguable Rummy's biggest R critic. He too had only just leaned about Rummy's spies from the WaPo and indicated that there would be hearings, but he was also quick to defend Rummy. He noted that many were frustrated by the failure of our human intelligence in the wake of 9/11 and speculated that these spies likely grew out of that frustration. (PDF transcript here)
I think we on the left need to be cautious about this story and should not assume laws were broken. 80% or more of all US intel is ran out of the DoD. This fact is why some Rs held-up and ultimately gutted the intelligence reform bill. The DoD won't give this turf up to a National Intelligence Director.
So where does it say that Rummy can't have his own spies? The prohibition may exist somewhere, but until it appears clearly illegal, we shouldn't bit. Rs love to embarrass us with issues like this as examples of our being weak on matters of national security.
I think Rummy's biggest problem may be the redirection of congressionally appropriated funds.
The NYTs story today seems less pointed.
The Pentagon has created battlefield intelligence units that for the first time have been assigned to work directly with Special Operations forces on secret counterterrorism missions, tasks that had been largely the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior Defense Department officials said Sunday.So let's keep our powder dry until we know more of the facts.
The small clandestine teams, drawn from specialists within the Defense Intelligence Agency, provide the military's elite Special Operations units with battlefield intelligence using advanced technology, recruit spies in foreign countries, and scout potential targets, the officials said.
The teams, which officials say have been operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries for about two years, represent a prime example of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's desire to expand the Pentagon's ability to collect human intelligence - information gathered by spies rather than by technological means - both within the military services and the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose focus is on intelligence used on the battlefield.
"It is accurate and should not be surprising that the Department of Defense is attempting to improve its longstanding human intelligence capability," the Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said in a statement on Sunday. "A principal conclusion of the 9/11 commission report is that the U.S. human intelligence capability must be improved across the board."