Intelligence System 'Needs Fundamental Change,' Bush Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2005 Conclusions provided by an independent commission on intelligence show that America's intelligence community requires "fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century," President Bush said April 2.
During his weekly national radio address, Bush described the commission's recommendations as "thoughtful and extremely significant." Publicly released earlier in the week, the commission's conclusions cited the need for more teamwork and information sharing among the nation's spy agencies and the need to develop a more robust system to doublecheck conclusions drawn from intelligence data."
The credibility of the U.S. intelligence community was damaged when it was discovered that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's alleged WMD arsenal was a key rationale in the president's decision to go to war with Iraq.
Bush said steps have already been initiated that dovetail with some of the commission's recommendations. In February, he appointed John Negroponte to become the first director of national intelligence. This post, Bush noted, "was created to help ensure that our intelligence community works as a single, unified enterprise."
The president said he has also directed Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend to manage an interagency review of the commission's findings and to ensure action is taken.
The commission's report, Bush said, "delivers a sharp critique of the way intelligence has been collected and analyzed against some of the most difficult intelligence targets, like Iraq."
To win the war on terror, Bush said, "we will correct what needs to be fixed" in the intelligence community and build on the commission's recommendations.
However, the president also pointed to "solid intelligence successes," including uncovering Libya's nuclear and missile programs, which led Libya to jettison its weapons-ofmass-destruction programs.
And in Pakistan, "our intelligence helped expose and shut down the world's most dangerous nuclear proliferation network," Bush noted. "We need to learn from the successes we've had," he said, "and apply the lessons elsewhere."
Bush also saluted "the hard work and sacrifices of the men and women in our intelligence community," noting they "are on the front lines in the war on terror." Their work to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction "is critical," he said.
The American people don't know about all of America's intelligence successes, Bush observed, but noted that he was aware of them. "I'm proud of our efforts of our intelligence workers to defend our country, and the American people should be as well."
The commission also found "that America needs to know much more about the weapons programs and intentions of our most dangerous adversaries," Bush said. "We will continue to give our intelligence professionals the tools they need and the structure they deserve so they can succeed in their essential work," he added.
Although he noted it's "not possible to guarantee perfect security in our vast free nation," the president said, "the consequences of underestimating a threat could be tens of thousands of innocent lives."
Bush offered his assurrances to the nation that the U.S. intelligence community is "doing everything they can to keep us safe." He said his administration "will continue to make intelligence reforms that will allow them to identify threats before they fully emerge, so we can take action to protect the American people."