02 August 2004
Bush Seeks Creation of New National Intelligence Director Post
President also plans to establish national counterterrorism
President Bush will ask Congress to create a new national intelligence
director position with significant authority over the U.S. intelligence
community and to establish a national counterterrorism center as
part of sweeping reforms to prevent additional terrorist attacks
on the United States similar to those of September 11, 2001.
The president's announcement August 2 at the White House came
after the 9/11 Commission recommended major changes and reforms
in an extensive 570-page report issued July 22. The recommendations
included actions to be taken by the president and Congress to bring
about reforms that would enhance the 15-member U.S. intelligence
community, its oversight, management and funding.
"The work of securing this vast nation is not done. The elevation
of the [terrorist] threat level in New York and New Jersey and
Washington, D.C., is a serious reminder, a solemn reminder, of
the threat we continue to face," Bush said.
"Our goal is an integrated, unified, national intelligence effort.
Many of these changes are specific recommendations of the 9/11
Commission. Others will go further than the proposals of the commission's
Bush said he will ask Congress, when it returns from its annual
August recess, to create the position of a national intelligence
director. This officer, although not a cabinet member, will become
the president's principal intelligence adviser and oversee and
coordinate the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence
"The national intelligence director will assume the broader responsibility
of leading the intelligence community across our government," Bush
said, noting that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) will continue
to be managed by a separate director.
Creation of the new position will require a substantial revision
of the 1947 National Security Act that originally created the current
intelligence and national security structure. In addition, the
U.S. Senate would need to confirm the president's choice for the
Bush also announced his intention to establish a new National
Counterterrorism Center, which will build on the current Terrorist
Threat Integration Center and become the U.S. government's central
databank for information on terrorism.
"The new center will coordinate and monitor counterterrorism plans
and activities of all government agencies and departments to ensure
effective joint action and that our efforts are unified in priority
and purpose," he said. "The center will also be responsible for
preparing the daily terrorism threat report for the president and
Due to continued global weapons proliferation, Bush said it may
be necessary to create a similar center to bring together intelligence
analysis, planning and operations to track and prevent the spread
of weapons of mass destruction.
He said the FBI will continue its restructuring and create a workforce
that specializes in collecting and analyzing domestic intelligence
on terrorism. At the same time, he said, the CIA is working to
strengthen its human intelligence and analytical capabilities.
"Finally, we will act on other recommendations made by the commission.
In coming days, I'll issue a series of directives to various departments
to underscore and further outline essential steps for the U.S.
government on the war on terror," Bush said. "All relevant agencies
must complete the task of adopting common databases and procedures
so that intelligence and homeland security information can be shared
and searched effectively, consistent with privacy and civil liberties."
Following are excerpts of Bush's remarks and questions that followed:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
August 2, 2004
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON INTELLIGENCE REFORM
The Rose garden 11:33 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. I appreciate the members of
my administration joining me. Thank you all for being here.
My most solemn duty is to protect our country. It's our most solemn
duty, as well. In the three years since our country was attacked,
we've taken steps to overcome new threats. We will continue to
do everything in our power to defeat the terrorist enemy and to
protect the American people.
Recently, the commission on the terrorist attacks upon the United
States came to a conclusion that I share: that our country is safer
than it was on September the 11th, 2001, yet, we're still not safe.
The commission members have worked hard and served our country
well. I speak for all Americans in thanking them for their fine
Their recommendations are thoughtful and valuable. My administration
has already taken numerous actions consistent with the commission's
recommendations. Today, we're taking additional steps. Our government's
actions against the terrorist threat accelerated dramatically after
the attacks on the country. Across the world, we've aggressively
pursued al-Qaeda terrorists, destroyed their training camps and
ended their sanctuaries.
We're working closely with other countries to gather intelligence
and to make arrests and to cut off terrorist finances. We've created
a new unified Department of Homeland Security and gave it resources
and the authority to defend America. We're employing the latest
equipment and know-how to secure our borders, air and seaports
and infrastructure. We're bringing the best technologies to bear
against the threat of chemical and biological warfare. Project
BioShield will fund cutting-edge drugs and other defenses against
a biological, chemical, or radiological attack.
To track terrorists and disrupt their cells and seize their assets,
we're using the tools of the Patriot Act. Congress needs to extend
this important law. Congress needs to make sure law enforcement
have the tools necessary to defend the country. We've transformed
the FBI to focus on the prevention of terrorist attacks. We're
continuing to expand and strengthen the capabilities of the Central
Intelligence Agency. We established the Terrorist Threat Integration
Center to merge and analyze in a single place foreign and domestic
intelligence on global terror.
Yet, the work of securing this vast nation is not done. The elevation
of the threat level in New York and New Jersey and Washington,
D.C. is a serious reminder, a solemn reminder of the threat we
continue to face. All the institutions of our government must be
fully prepared for a struggle against terror that will last into
the future. Our goal is an integrated, unified national intelligence
effort. Therefore, my administration will continue moving forward
with additional changes to the structure and organization of our
Many of these changes are specific recommendations of the 9/11
Commission. Other will go further than the proposal of the commission's
report. All these reforms have a single goal: We will ensure that
the people in government responsible for defending America and
countering terrorism have the best possible information to make
the best decisions.
Today I'm asking Congress to create the position of a National
Intelligence Director. That person -- the person in that office
will be appointed by the President with the advice and consent
of the Senate, and will serve at the pleasure of the President.
The National Intelligence Director will serve as the President's
principal intelligence advisor and will oversee and coordinate
the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence committee.
Under this reorganization, the CIA will be managed by a separate
Director. The National Intelligence Director will assume the broader
responsibility of leading the intelligence community across our
I want, and every President must have, the best, unbiased, unvarnished
assessment of America's intelligence professionals. Creating the
position of the National Intelligence Director will require a substantial
revision of the 1947 National Security Act. I look forward to working
with the members of Congress to move ahead on this important reform.
The 9/11 Commission also made several recommendations about Congress,
itself. I strongly agree with the commission's recommendation that
oversight and intelligence -- oversight of intelligence and of
the homeland security must be restructured and made more effective.
There are too many committees with overlapping jurisdiction, which
wastes time and makes it difficult for meaningful oversight and
Today, I also announce that we will establish a National Counter-Terrorism
Center. This new center will build on the analytical work, the
really good analytical work of the Terrorist Threat Integration
Center, and will become our government's knowledge bank for information
about known and suspected terrorists. The new center will coordinate
and monitor counter-terrorism plans and activities of all government
agencies and departments to ensure effective joint action, and
that our efforts are unified in priority and purpose. The center
will also be responsible for preparing the daily terrorism threat
report for the President and senior officials.
The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center will report
to the National Intelligence Director, once that position is created.
Until then, the center will report to the Director of the CIA.
Given the growing threat of weapons and missile proliferation in
our world, it may also be necessary to create a similar center
in our government to bring together our intelligence analysis planning
and operations to track and prevent the spread of weapons of mass
I asked the commission headed by Judge Laurence Silberman and
Senator Chuck Robb to determine the merits of creating such a center.
This nation must do everything we can to keep the world's most
destructive weapons out of the world's most dangerous hands.
Finally, we will act on other recommendations made by the commission.
In coming days, I'll issue a series of directives to various departments
to underscore and further outline essential steps for the U.S.
government on the war on terror. All relevant agencies must complete
the task of adopting common databases and procedures so that intelligence
and homeland security information can be shared and searched effectively,
consistent with privacy and civil liberties.
At the same time, the FBI Director will continue his restructuring
of the bureau to create a specialized work force for collecting
and analyzing domestic intelligence on terrorism. The acting CIA
Director will continue to increase efforts already underway to
strengthen human intelligence and analytical capabilities.
The dedicated, hardworking men and women of our intelligence community
are laboring every day to keep our country safe. I'm proud of their
work, and so should our American citizens. We're in their debt,
we're grateful for them. And the changes we're making are designed
to help the professionals carry out their essential missions, as
best as they possibly can. I'll work closely with the Congress
to ensure that reform does not disrupt their daily work. We've
got good people working hard to protect America. We don't want
these efforts to step -- to get in the way of their efforts to
protect our fellow citizens.
We are a nation in danger. We're doing everything we can in our
power to confront the danger. We're making good progress in protecting
our people and bringing our enemies to account. But one thing is
for certain: We'll keep our focus and we'll keep our resolve and
we will do our duty to best secure our country.
I'll answer a couple of questions today...
QUESTION: Yes, Mr. President. First, I'd like to ask you what
the level of urgency is here on those actions that require congressional
approval. They're out on recess until Labor Day. Can you envision
calling them back into special session? And, also, you've got a
terror warning, as you said, in three cities. How do you react,
without tipping the bad guys off and without turning the country
into a fortress?
BUSH: Well, the first question is -- the Congress has been thinking
about some of these ideas. They can think about them over August
and come back and act on them in September. We look forward to
working with them. Not only the creation of the National Intelligence
Director, how to do it the right way, but also the 9/11 Commission
had some very constructive suggestions for congressional reform.
I think Tom told me one time he -- how many different committees
have you testified in front of?
[HOMELAND SECURITY TOM] SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, 140 times our leadership
was up there last year.
BUSH: He testified 140 different times...
BUSH: ...I mean, it's a lot of -- he's got a lot of jurisdictions
up there, and so he goes committee, subcommittee, this committee,
that committee. I mean, it seems like it's one thing to testify,
and there to be oversight, it's another thing to make sure that
the people who are engaged in protecting America don't spend all
their time testifying. And so there's going to be some important
reforms. We look forward to working with Congress on the reforms.
The second part of your two-part question?
Q: In a situation like this -- in a situation like this, where
you have this new terror alert, how do you react without tipping
off the terrorists and having them move to different targets, and
how do you avoid turning the country into a fortress?
BUSH: Well, I appreciate that. I think we have an obligation to
inform the people involved with protecting New York City, in this
case, or parts of Jersey, or parts of D.C. about what we know.
We have an obligation. When we find out something, we've got to
share it. What we're talking about here is a very serious matter
based upon sound intelligence. And I would hope the people affected
in New York realize that by sharing intelligence we can better
prepare in case something were to happen.
In other words, if we were just silent on the subject, I think
people would be a lot more nervous. They would say, what is government
withholding, why weren't they sharing stuff with the people responsible
-- [New York Police] Commissioner Kelly, or Mayor Bloomberg? So
our attitude is, we try to be as transparent as possible with the
affected sites so that people can then take responses necessary
to better protect the people.
But it's serious business. We wouldn't be contacting authorities
at the local level unless something was real. And what this points
up to is that there's an enemy which hates what we stand for. And
it's a different kind of war. And it's one that we're just going
to have to continue to work on, and will -- do the very best we
can to protect the country...
Q: Mr. President, some of your own advisors oppose creation of
a National Intelligence Director. Why did you override their objections?
And will you give the new director sweeping budget authority?
BUSH: Because I thought it was the right thing to do... And the
good thing about having an administration full of competent, capable,
intelligence people is that I get all different kinds of opinions.
The best decisionmaking process is one where people have different
opinions, and they bring them to me in a forthright way, and then
I make the decision about what I think is best. And I think that
the new National Intelligence Director ought to be able to coordinate
budgets. I certainly hope Congress reforms its budget process,
too, so that it's a seamless process.
Secondly, the National Intelligence Director will work with the
respective agencies to set priorities. But let me make it also
very clear that when it comes to operations, the chain of command
will be intact. When the Defense Department is conducting operations
to secure the homeland, there'll be nothing in between the Secretary
of Defense and me. I believe this system will serve our country
well as we head into the depths of the 21st century. As I said
in my remarks here, that this struggle against these thugs will
go on for a while, and therefore we've just got to do everything
we can to be better prepared...
Q: Mr. President, thank you. All of this as you know is coming
in the context of the presidential election campaign. Your opponent
has made a couple of charges that I would like your response to.
One, essentially saying that three years after the 9/11 attacks,
to go about the business of rehauling [overhauling] the intelligence
community is too long. Second, there's been a suggestion from the
Kerry camp today that this administration is actually responsible
for fueling the recruitment of al-Qaeda through some of its policies,
particularly -- they didn't say this directly -- but the war in
Iraq. Your response?
BUSH: Yes, that's a misunderstanding of the war on terror. Obviously,
we have a clear -- a difference of opinion, a clear difference
of opinion about the stakes that face America. These people we
face are cold-blooded, committed killers. They're interested in
destroying our way of life. They were interested in destroying
our way of life before I arrived in office. The only way to deal
with these people is to bring them to justice.
See, evidently some must think that you can negotiate with them,
you can talk sense to them, you can hope that they change. That's
not what I know. I know in order to deal with these people we must
bring them to justice before they hurt us again. And so we're on
the offense. We will stay -- the best way to protect the American
homeland is to stay on the offense. It is a ridiculous notion to
assert that because the United States is on the offense, more people
want to hurt us. We are on the offense because people do want to
hurt us. The other part of your question was, what, sir?
Q: Why wait three years after the 9/11 attacks to call for this
kind of reform? Senator Kerry has said that's too long.
BUSH: We have implemented significant reforms since 9/11. The
FBI is reformed, and Director [Robert] Mueller is doing a fabulous
job. The communications between the FBI and the CIA are -- have
been enhanced by the creation of what's called TTIC, the Terrorist
Threat Integration Center. We moved quickly to make sure that there
is a seamless spread of information throughout our government.
We called for and worked with Congress to create the Department
of Homeland Security. Not everybody in Congress agreed with how
that Department ought to be set up. But we got it set up, and not
only that, under Secretary Ridge we have implemented the integration
of multiple agencies to better protect the homeland. We've done
a lot since September the 11th...
Q: Mr. President, the 9/11 Commission originally recommended that
the National Intelligence Director be part of the executive office,
part of the executive branch. Why the change? Why make it part
of -- with congressional oversight?
BUSH: Well, I don't think that person ought to be a member of
my Cabinet. I will hire the person, and I can fire the person,
which is -- any President would like. That's how you have accountability
in government. I don't think that the office ought to be in the
White House, however. I think it ought to be a stand-alone group,
to better coordinate, particularly between foreign intelligence
and domestic intelligence matters. I think it's going to be one
of the most useful aspects of the National Intelligence Director...
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You saw that Doctors Without Borders
pulled out of Afghanistan because it was too dangerous. You've
seen reports about the re-formed Taliban. Why is the situation,
security situation there so poor? What do you see as the trajectory
of it? And, Mr. President, do you worry that you should have given
more attention to Iran earlier?
BUSH: First, let me address Afghanistan. I did see that the Doctors
Without Borders left, and I'm sorry they did, because they were
providing an important function for the people who want to live
in a free society. I also saw, at the same time, that there's over,
I think it's 9 million Afghan citizens have registered to vote.
That's an unbelievable statement, isn't it? Do you remember when
we were here -- I can't remember, at one of my press conferences,
we had a discussion about this, but there was some concern that,
well, maybe they're not going to get even the 3 million people
registered to vote in Afghanistan. Or maybe it was -- some minimal
threshold. I think we're over 9 million now?
SECRETARY [OF STATE COLIN] POWELL: Yes, just about 9 million.
BUSH: Nine million people have said to the world, we love freedom
and we're going to vote. Now, the Taliban still roams in parts
of the country, and we're working with the Afghan government to
bring them to justice. These are similar to the killers in Iraq;
they'll lurk in shadows and come out and kill indiscriminately.
Do you remember they pulled the women off the bus? They got the
bus, they stopped and said everybody -- the women with voter registration
cards step off, and they killed them. Nevertheless, the Afghan
people refuse to be intimidated. They're showing up in droves to
vote. A free society is emerging in that part of the world.
In Iran, we are paying very close attention to Iran. We have ever
since I've been in office here. We are working with our friends
to keep the pressure on the mullahs to listen to the demands of
the free world. And we're working with the -- hold on a second,
please. Excuse me. We're working with the IAEA [International Atomic
Energy Agency] to keep the pressure on Iran, and the Secretary
is working very closely with the foreign ministers of France, Great
Britain and Germany, who are taking it upon themselves to make
it clear that the demands of Europe are also equal to -- the same
as the demands of the United States, that we expect there to be
full disclosure, full transparency of their nuclear weapons programs...
Q: Mr. President, your opponent, John Kerry, has called for a
complete endorsement of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.
How do your actions today differ from his own in ensuring national
security? And what can the American people see in the days to come,
either feel or see, to know that they are better protected?
BUSH: Well, when we put out a threat alert like we did yesterday
[August 1], and then work with folks at the local jurisdictions
to respond, the American people need to know that, one, our intelligence
gathering is doing its job -- the intelligence gatherers are doing
their job. And, secondly, the response mechanism is fast. And they
need to know their government -- there are thousands of people
working overtime to not only find data, but analyze data, and then
take the steps necessary to protect, as best as we possibly can.
This is a big country. We're a free country, and as I've said many
times, we've got to be a hundred percent correct, they're got to
be correct once. But the people need to know that we're taking
action on actionable intelligence.
First part of the -- the 9/11 -- listen, my job is to take a look
at what I think is right, and to build on that which we've already
done. We've already done a lot. Take a good look at what has taken
place since 9/11, and I think you'll be -- as a citizen, concerned
about your own safety, I think you'll be pleased. And the question
is, how do we do more? We're more than happy to do more...
Q: Yes, sir. Mr. President, would you say -- can you say what
you regard as the model for this National Intelligence Director?
Is it the Fed, would it be the Joint Chiefs of Staff? And in what
way would this new structure prevent the kind of intelligence failings
that preceded the war in Iraq with respect to weapons, difficulty
of the opposition faced, and those sorts of things?
BUSH: Not like the Fed [U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman]. More like
the Joint Chiefs, because the Joint Chiefs have got a -- even though
not a part of the chain of command, they are affected by the chain
And the second part of the -- oh, why would this -- listen, let
me talk about the intelligence in Iraq. First of all, we all thought
we would find stockpiles of weapons. We may still find weapons.
We haven't found them yet. Every person standing up here would
say, gosh, we thought it was going to be different, as did the
Congress, by the way, members of both parties, and the United Nations.
But what we do know is that Saddam Hussein had the capability of
And let me just say this to you: Knowing what I know today, we
still would have gone on into Iraq. We still would have gone to
make our country more secure. He had the capability of making weapons.
He had terrorist ties. The decision I made was the right decision.
The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. And I
find it interesting, in the political process, that some say, well,
I voted for the intelligence, and now they won't say whether or
not it was the right decision to take Saddam Hussein out. It's
the right decision, and the world is better off for it...