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President Welcomes Intelligence Bill

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2004 – Congress has passed and President Bush will sign a historic piece of legislation that will revamp the nation's intelligence system.

Senate action Dec. 8 quickly followed House passage a day earlier of the intelligence reform bill, which will create the biggest shakeup in the intelligence community since President Harry S. Truman established the CIA in 1949.

The bill is a result of the recommendations of the so-called 9/11 Commission. "We already have taken numerous steps to improve our intelligence capabilities, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 further strengthens intelligence gathering and operations," President Bush said in a written statement.

The bill establishes the position of director of national intelligence. The director who will be confirmed by the Senate will oversee the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. The director will have "full budget authority to integrate and manage the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence community."

The director would not run the CIA, but the person would be able to direct collection and analysis of intelligence across the agencies.

The law also strengthens the National Counterterrorism Center, which will ensure seamless intelligence across agency lines. The center would be the focal point for domestic and foreign intelligence sharing efforts.

From the military standpoint, the bill "will also preserve the chain of command in our Cabinet departments and agencies and the military by respecting the clear lines of authority within the executive branch," Bush stated.

The bill will allow the director of national intelligence to move personnel from agency to agency as the need arises.

In varying degrees, the bill affects the entire intelligence community. This includes intelligence organizations for the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

The Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency are also part of the community.

It also includes the CIA and FBI, as well as intelligence portions of the Departments of State, Energy, Homeland Security and Treasury.

"We remain a nation at war, and intelligence is our first line of defense against the terrorists who seek to do us harm," Bush said. "I am pleased the measure also contains many critical law enforcement tools that I have called for that will help make America more secure. I look forward to signing this landmark piece of legislation into law."

The bill also calls for "rationalizing" security clearances, and calls for reciprocity among agencies. For example, the FBI would recognize a DoD-issued top secret clearance.

The bill also creates a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that would monitor the organization to ensure that privacy rights and civil liberty considerations are addressed in any law, regulation or policy.

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