President Bush's Endorsement of the Creation of a National Intelligence Czar
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.
BUSH: 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 destruction.
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. 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 workforce for collecting, analyzing domestic intelligence on terrorism. The acting CIA director will continue to increase efforts already under way to strengthen human intelligence and analytical capabilities.
BUSH: 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 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 -- get in the way of their efforts to protect our fellow citizens.
We're a nation in danger. We're doing everything we can in our power to confront the danger. We're making good progress and 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. We will do our duty to best secure our country.
I'll answer a couple of questions today.
Scott, have you got one?
QUESTION: Thank you, 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: Yes. Well, the first question is, listen, 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.
BUSH: I think Tom told me one time he -- how many different committees have you testified in front of?
RIDGE: Well, 140 times our leadership went up there...
BUSH: He testified 140 different times. And...
RIDGE: The leadership.
RIDGE: The leadership, the undersecretary...
BUSH: Yes. I mean, you've got a lot of jurisdictions up there. And so, he goes to committee, subcommittee, this committee, that committee.
I mean, it seems like it's one thing to testify, and there will 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.
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