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President Bush Approves Intelligence Reform

President Bush Approves Intelligence Reform
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Dec 18, 2004 8:00 AM PST    Text size: 
WASHINGTON - President Bush has signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, authorizing the largest restructuring of U.S. intelligence agencies and gathering practices since President Harry S. Truman's post-World War II inception of the Central Intelligence Agency with the National Security Act of 1947, which was designed to fight the spread of Communism at the dawn of the Cold War.

The enemy today isn't the now defeated Soviet Union, however, but the often stateless menace of international terrorism, and the malicious actions of rogue nations – a situation that places unique challenges on the nation's 15 separate intelligence gathering agencies and their practices – a situation which this restructuring intends to address with the same success as the previous restructuring handled Communism.

"Under this new law, our vast intelligence enterprise will become more unified, coordinated and effective. It will enable us to better do our duty, which is to protect the American people," said President Bush at Friday's signing ceremony.

CIA Director Porter Goss, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and a variety of Congressional leaders, Sept. 11th Commissioners, and family members of those killed during the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were in attendance at the signing ceremony in which President Bush made the controversial 563 page bill into law.

"America, in this new century, again faces new threats. Instead of massed armies, we face stateless networks; we face killers who hide in our own cities. We must confront deadly technologies. To inflict great harm on our country, America's enemies need to be only right once. Our intelligence and law enforcement professionals in our government must be right every single time. Our government is adapting to confront and defeat these threats. We're staying on the offensive against the enemy. We'll take the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home," continued the President.

The new law will increase border and aviation security, create a federal counter-terrorism center, and provides for an overall – but as yet unnamed – Director of National Intelligence (DNI). While the extent of the director's authority is not specified beyond his (or her) budgetary control, the intelligence community, particularly in the pre-9/11 world, was not noted for inter-agency cooperation or a willingness to submit to oversight protocols or 'outside' management.

Beyond the 10,000 new border patrol agents and the enhancement of airline baggage handling and security screening procedures that the new law provides for, is the standardization of driver's license information, and easement of 'wiretapping' and electronic eavesdropping restrictions that previously hampered domestic law enforcement officials's attempts to track down and apprehend terrorists within the United States. These measures include enhanced access to personal emails, instant messages, and other forms of online communications used by suspected terrorists.

"The many reforms in this act 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, and in return we owe them our full support. As we continue to reform and strengthen the intelligence community, we will do all that is necessary to defend its people and the nation we serve," concluded the President.

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