Bush Pushes Threat Integration Center, Praises Intel Pros
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2003 The United States is winning the war on terrorism, in part, because intelligence efforts span the federal bureaucracy and link to the world.
President Bush praised efforts by the CIA and FBI during a speech at FBI headquarters today. Bush pointed out that the FBI alone has 1,800 agents devoted to counterterrorism activities.
"All our successes in the war on terror depend on the ability of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to work in common purpose," Bush said. "In order to better protect our homeland, our intelligence agencies must coexist like they never had before. In order to hunt the terrorists down one by one, our intelligence agencies must cooperate fully with agencies overseas. Under the leadership of (CIA) Director (George) Tenet and (FBI Director Bob) Mueller, the CIA and the FBI have improved their communications and cooperation."
The president spoke about the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center that he first mentioned in his State of the Union address, saying it marks another crucial advance in meeting 21st century threats. "This joint effort across many departments of our government will integrate and analyze all terrorist threat information collected domestically and abroad in a single location," Bush said.
He said the center will develop a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. When it is fully operational, it will house a database of known and suspected terrorists that officials across the country will be able to access and act upon, he said.
In addition to the CIA and FBI, the Defense Department and the new Department of Homeland Security will be among those staffing the center and analyzing the data.
Bush said protecting the homeland is the first goal, and intelligence is at the heart of protecting America. Using advanced technology, the center will be able to provide that database to local law enforcement personnel. Terrorist attacks may be thwarted in the course of a simple traffic stop.
But the war on terror isn't only defensive. Americans must go into other areas and hunt down terrorists, Bush said. "This war requires us to understand that terror is broader than one international network, that these terrorist networks have got connections -- in some cases, to countries run by outlaw dictators," he said.
That's the issue with Iraq and its connections to terrorist organizations. "When I speak about the war on terror, I not only talk about al Qaeda, I talk about Iraq," Bush said. "Because after all, Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction and he's used them. Saddam Hussein is used to deceiving the world and continues to do so. Saddam Hussein has got ties to terrorist networks. Saddam Hussein is a danger, and that's why he will be disarmed, one way or the other."