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Heads Of 4 U.S. Spy Agencies To Appear Before Senate Panel On Russia


We're now going to take a moment to unpack a phrase you've probably heard a lot these days - the 17 U.S. spy agencies. If you can name half of those, you're doing better than most of us here. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly covers the intelligence community. We asked her to stop by and see how many she can name without a cheat sheet. Good morning, Mary Louise.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. I've been doing pushups to get ready.

MARTIN: Yeah. And we should point out, you don't even have any notes in front of you. This is legit.

KELLY: Flying blind is what it's called.

MARTIN: We are going to (laughter) put you to the test. OK. It's worth noting that the spy agencies have been in the news because of the consensus they reached that Russia intervened in the American presidential election. And that's going to be back in the news later today. The leaders of four of the biggest agencies are headed to Capitol Hill to answer questions.

KELLY: Correct.

MARTIN: We're going to get to that in a minute, but the test first. I'm going to start you off with some of the ones that tend to make fewer headlines, for example, Coast Guard Intelligence.

KELLY: Coast Guard Intelligence, which would be the first agency you would consult in the event of, say, smugglers off the coast of Florida. They have been less involved for obvious reasons in this investigation into Russian hacking. Some of the others you don't hear very often about - so there's the Energy Department. They have an intelligence wing - think nuclear security.


KELLY: There's the Treasury Department - think financial sanctions against weapons proliferators, terror groups. Another one you almost never hear about - INR. This is the State Department intelligence shop, so intel for diplomats.

MARTIN: All right. I'm counting. That's up to four.

KELLY: Four.

MARTIN: There are a whole bunch of other ones that fall under the umbrella of the Pentagon, right?

KELLY: That is correct. And we can do four in one fell swoop - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.


KELLY: All the services have their own intelligence staff. They all have different specialties and priorities, as you would imagine. Serving the entire Defense Department - the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, so that would be combat support, military intelligence for war fighters. Then there's a couple of biggies that belong to the Defense Department you never hear about. They like it that way. The NGA, for example, this is the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. In other words, the maps...

MARTIN: Maps, yeah.

KELLY: ...And imagery guys. The NRO - that would be the National Reconnaissance Office. That's the satellites guys, so they build and operate spy satellites. And then, oh, the National Security Agency, the NSA.

MARTIN: Oh, yeah, that one.

KELLY: That one, which of course is the codebreakers and cyber snooping, electronic surveillance, so they, as you would imagine, have been all over the Russia hacks.

MARTIN: All right. You got five left. I'm going to give you a hint on this one - drugs.

KELLY: Drugs - DEA.


KELLY: Drug Enforcement Administration, which prompts me to the next one, DHS - this is the whole alphabet soup - DHS being the Department of Homeland Security...

MARTIN: They have their own.

KELLY: ...Which also has its own little intel shop, and they count.

MARTIN: All right, you've got three big ones for the end.

KELLY: This was strategic. I saved the big ones for the homestretch because it's hard to forget about the FBI, familiar to most of us, the bureau that does law enforcement, also does intelligence these days. Of course, the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, so doing covert operations, doing foreign espionage. They have recently ventured into paramilitary operations, drone programs. That's been controversial. But - so CIA, which I think, Rachel, if I'm not mistaken, gets us for the win...

MARTIN: Mary Louise Kelly.

KELLY: ...To the DNI, the director of National Intelligence...


KELLY: ...A relative newcomer to this crowd. They were only stood up in 2005, and the DNI's job is to oversee and coordinate all the 16 others, which I have just named - thank God (laughter).

MARTIN: You did. OK. Real quick before we let you go, we mentioned the leaders of four of these agencies will be on the Hill today talking Russia - which four?

KELLY: NSA, CIA, FBI and DNI, and this is going to be so fascinating for all kinds of reasons. One, you never get the heads of those agencies in one room speaking on the record - just doesn't happen. And then also the reason they're going to be all in one room is this new Russia report, which dropped on Friday. The headline of which, to remind people, is U.S. intelligence believes that Vladimir Putin personally ordered a campaign to influence the U.S. election, so not an uncontroversial topic before them.

MARTIN: OK, I'm going to find you a gold star. Somewhere in this building there must be one. NPR national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly. Thanks, Mary Louise.

KELLY: You're welcome.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story the Drug Enforcement Administration was said to be part of the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, DEA is part of the Justice Department.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: January 10, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST
In a previous version of this story, the Drug Enforcement Administration was said to be part of the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, DEA is part of the Justice Department.