Lawmakers question price tag for Pentagon intel shop

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said committee members pressed DOD officials during the hearing on how the department planned to finance the new Pentagon intelligence shop in the face of looming budget cuts. 

"What are the costs and how are they going to [afford it]?" McCain said. "We asked those questions." 

The Defense Department has yet to publicly offer specifics on the anticipated total cost of the intelligence shop. 

McCain could not go into the specifics of Tuesday's hearing, but did say committee members would be asking for more information on the DCS's total price tag. 

Senate defense committee members are scheduled to mark up their version of the fiscal 2013 Pentagon spending bill later this month. The committee's counterparts on the House side plan to have their version of the defense bill wrapped up by Thursday. 

Aside from funding issues, the creation of the new Pentagon office could set off a wide-ranging turf battle among the numerous agencies that deal with intelligence. 

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) dismissed claims that the DCS will add another layer to what is already a complicated and cumbersome U.S. intelligence apparatus. He said CIA chief David Petraeus and James Clapper, director of the Office of National Intelligence, both signed off on the Pentagon’s plan.

Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee and is a member of the Senate Armed Services panel, added that, given the type of threats U.S. forces now face, American forces need all the intelligence they can get. 

"It’s all a question of value," Lieberman said, noting that groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban are enemies who "attacks from the shadows" and refuse to differentiate between soldiers and civilians.