The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun hearings on a proposal to create a new Cabinet-level post, the Director of National Intelligence (search).

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a lead sponsor. She said the goal is to increase ccountability and insulate the individual intelligence agencies from political pressure.

Feinstein said currently, there are 15 separate intelligence agencies with no one person responsible for them all. While the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (search) is the public face of the intelligence community, 80 percent of intelligence funding rests with agencies under the control of the Department of Defense (search), she added.

Several members of the Intelligence Committee expressed concern about creating another layer of federal bureaucracy. Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois wondered aloud whether any one person could handle such a huge job.