President Bush's Endorsement of the Creation of a National Intelligence Czar
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?
QUESTION: 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.
BUSH: We have an obligation: When we find out something, we got to share it. And 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 that people would be a lot more nervous. They would say, "What is government withholding? Why weren't they sharing stuff with the people responsible, Commissioner Kelly or Mayor Bloomberg?"
So our attitude is, we'll try to be as transparent as possible with the affected sites, so that people can then take responses necessary to better protect the people.
And it's serious business. I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, 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.
QUESTION: 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, Adam. And the good thing about having an administration full of competent, capable, intelligent people is that I get all different kinds of opinions.
The best decision-making 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.
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 will 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.
QUESTION: 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'd like your response to.
One, essentially saying that three years after the 9/11 attacks to go about the business of rehauling the intelligence community is too long.
QUESTION: Second, there's been a suggestion from the Kerry camp today that this administration is actually responsible for fueling the recruitment of Al Qaida through some of its policies, particularly -- they didn't say this directly -- but the war in Iraq.
BUSH: Yes. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror. Obviously, we have a clear 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 justice.
© 2004 FDCH E-Media