Bush moves to overhaul intelligence community
According to a White House announcement, the president backs creating a National Security Service within the FBI, establishing a national counterproliferation center, and supporting a new chief of intelligence and national security directives at the Justice Department.
Bush said he endorsed 70 of the 74 recommendations made by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, commonly called the WMD commission. The administration will further study three of the recommendations, while one classified proposal will not be implemented.
The National Security Service within the FBI will specialize in intelligence and other national security matters and respond to priorities set by John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence.
The WMD commission concluded that, despite massive efforts at intelligence reform -- including overhaul legislation passed late last year -- the intelligence community suffers from dangerous ambiguities, unnecessary duplication and bureaucratic infighting. The commission also concluded that the U.S. intelligence community was "dead wrong" in almost all its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The commission was formed primarily to assess whether the intelligence community is sufficiently organized and has the resource to identify and warn against terrorist threats in a timely manner. Overall, the panel found widespread problems.
"In many instances, we found finished intelligence that was loosely reasoned, ill-supported and poorly communicated," the commission wrote in its 600-page report. "Perhaps most worrisome, we found too many analytic products that obscured how little the intelligence community actually knew about an issue and how much their conclusions rested on inference and assumptions."
According to the commission, "the failure to manage counterterrorism resources from a community perspective has limited the intelligence community's ability to understand and warn against terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction."
The reforms adopted by Bush on Wednesday also involve creating an office to manage and coordinate all U.S. human intelligence collection overseas, The Washington Post reported. CIA Director Porter Goss has been put in charge of all overseas human intelligence operations.
Bush also issued an executive order Wednesday freezing assets of individuals or groups involved in activities related to the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and said he supports extending the period that agents of foreign powers who are not U.S. persons can be put under electronic surveillance.
Some of the changes backed by the administration will require congressional action. For example, Bush said the administration will work with Congress to reform oversight of intelligence agencies. Congress would also have to approve the position of a new Justice Department intelligence chief and approve extending the period that agents of foreign powers can be put under electronic surveillance.