CIA Director William Webster said Mikhail Gorbachev's policies have meant the CIA can gather more intelligence about the Soviet Union but his innovative style poses special challenges for the agency, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

As a result of the Kremlin leader's policy of glasnost, or openness, the Central Intelligence Agency is getting far more material now about the Soviet Union, the Times quoted Webster as saying in an interview. President-elect George Bush announced last week that Webster will stay on as director of central intelligence."We're getting important information from non-traditional clandestine sources who have better access to some of this information than the traditional espionage activity would have," Webster said, adding that this included the increased trade delegations allowed into the Soviet Union.

Webster said the CIA had anticipated Gorbachev's announcement of unilateral troop reductions last week but the Soviet leader's penchant for surprises challenged the agency's ability to remain objectively analytical, the Times reported.

"It's part of his (Gorbachev's) style to keep the free world in the so-called reactive role," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "Intelligence has a role in identifying opportunities for our country to take the initiative when it should be taking the initiative.

"What we have to be careful about is that we are not policy advocates. Sometimes, the identification of opportunities can appear to advocating a particular kind of cause." He also said U.S. intelligence agencies face significantly tighter budgets and in particular must find a way to pay for a new generation of spy satellites, the Times reported.

Robert Gates, the CIA's deputy director, said in an interview the budget for intelligence had been declining for the past three years, the newspaper said.