NRO on the Spot

Still in limbo—at least as far as his Air Force connection—is newly installed National Reconnaissance Office Director Donald M. Kerr. Until Kerr’s appointment in late July, the head of the NRO had always been the undersecretary of the Air Force. Kerr told reporters Thursday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has started a review of the NRO’s role in the Intelligence Community—with its recent leadership reshuffling—and that includes discussion of whether he needs an Air Force title. Kerr, a veteran CIA official, believes the NRO is a “full-time responsibility,” but he also said he is “not against” having an Air Force title to maintain a more official link. At least two lawmakers—Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) already have questioned the wisdom of the split from the Air Force in a letter they sent to Rumsfeld July 27. Kerr said he expects DOD to make a decision on the matter this fall. (Kerr actually works for both Rumsfeld and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.)