Lawmakers Propose Bills to Revamp Intelligence Agencies
Congressional Report, September 8: U.S. intelligence
08 September 2004
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives have
introduced legislation to overhaul the U.S. intelligence community,
enhance border security, and expand public diplomacy in the
Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, and
John McCain, an Arizona Republican, essentially have compiled
the 9/11 Commission Report's 41 recommendations into a single
bill and plan to introduce it this month in the U.S. Senate
and House of Representatives.
"The sweep of this bill is broad and historic ... because
the threats that confront us are broad and historic," Lieberman
said September 7 at a Washington news conference. "If we reorganize
and reform the enormous human and technological intelligence
assets America has, as the [9/11] Commission has recommended,
we will be able to see, hear and stop the terrorist attacks
against us before they occur."
The McCain-Lieberman bill, and others like it, form part of
a growing movement on Capitol Hill to respond to recommendations
by the 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission
on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Congressional
committees held more than two dozen hearings during Congress'
August recess on the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
The commission's report on the September 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks recommended a major restructuring of the U.S. intelligence
community, in order to enhance the gathering and sharing of
intelligence. The report also included a critical review of
actions by the White House, Congress, and other elements of
the U.S. government.
The report specifically called for creation of a national
intelligence director to oversee U.S. intelligence agencies,
as well as creation of a National Counterterrorism Center.
In August, President Bush announced his support for these measures
and issued orders to create the counterterrorism center.
He also gave additional authority to the director of the Central
Intelligence Agency until Congress acts on the national intelligence
director post. Creating that post and overhauling the intelligence
community will require amending the 1947 National Security
Act, which created the current defense and national security
Bush met with selected members of Congress September 8 at
the White House to express his desire to advance critical intelligence
"I will be submitting a plan to the Congress that strengthens
intelligence reform -- strengthens the intelligence services," Bush
said. "We believe that there ought to be a national intelligence
director who has full budgetary authority. We'll talk to members
of Congress about how to implement that."
The McCain-Lieberman bill would create a national intelligence
director with broad powers; set up a national counterterrorism
center; call for a broad, centralized information-sharing intelligence
network; expand public diplomacy programs throughout the Islamic
world; heighten protections of U.S. civil liberties; enhance
terrorist threat briefings during presidential transitions;
and accelerate plans to expand border security measures.
In the House, Representative Christopher Shays said September
8 that he and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney would introduce
a companion bill to the McCain-Lieberman measure.
At the same time, House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
and Representative Jane Harman, who is the ranking Democratic
member of the House Intelligence Committee, also introduced
legislation aimed at revamping the intelligence apparatus.
In related legislation, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman
Pat Roberts has already introduced comprehensive legislation
to reorganize the U.S. intelligence agencies. Roberts said
August 24 that his bill would divide the CIA into three separate
intelligence agencies, and rearrange agencies and offices currently
assigned to the FBI, Defense Department, State Department,
and the other members of the intelligence community.