Bush Signs Intelligence Reform Bill Into Law
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2004 President Bush today signed into law a bill designed to improve coordination and effectiveness among the nation's various intelligence networks.
Bush called the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 the "most dramatic reform of our nation's intelligence capabilities since President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947."
"Under this new law, our vast intelligence enterprise will become more unified, coordinated and effective," Bush said in remarks before signing the bill at the Mellon Auditorium here. "It will enable us to better do our duty, which is to protect the American people."
The new law creates the position of director of national intelligence, an individual to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Congress. The DNI will "lead a unified intelligence community and will serve as the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters," Bush said, though he did not announce a candidate for the job.
This individual will also control the budgets of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Bush reassured everyone that "the new law will preserve the existing chain of command and leave all our intelligence agencies, organizations and offices in their current departments."
"Our military commanders will continue to have quick access to the intelligence they need to achieve victory on the battlefield," the president noted.
Bush said the new legislation is needed to protect the country as America faces new threats of "stateless networks" and "killers who hide in our own cities."
Truman created the Defense Department, the CIA and the National Security Council in the face of the Cold War, "to defend the Free World from an armed empire bent on conquest," Bush said.
Now, the government is adapting to defeat other threats, he noted. Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush created the Department of Homeland Security. He called the changes in the law signed today a continuation of the "essential reorganization of our government."
This legislation had strong support from families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the bipartisan commission investigating the attacks had recommended creation of a national intelligence director.
"I particularly want to thank the 9/11 commission, (and) pay my respects and offer our gratitude to the family members of the victims of September the 11th," Bush said today. "Thank you for working hard on this issue. Thank you for remembering your loved ones."
He said the reforms in the law have a single goal: "to ensure that the people in government responsible for defending America have the best possible information to make the best possible decisions.
"The men and women of our intelligence community give America their very best every day," Bush said. "And in return, we owe them our full support."