President Bush yesterday nominated retired Vice Adm. John Redd, who served as executive director of the presidential commission on intelligence, to run the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean and called on Congress to renew the USA Patriot Act to help law enforcement officials such as Redd hunt and capture terrorists.
Visiting the new Northern Virginia facility, which is responsible for analyzing intelligence on terrorism and for the strategic planning of counterterrorism operations, Bush said Redd is a "man of enormous experience" who will be a "good boss" at the NCTC.
Redd is a 36-year Navy veteran and was commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Middle East. Most recently, he served as deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He has never been involved in counterterrorism operations.
The NCTC, which is part of the domain of John D. Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, will draw information from 26 different government networks, including air-traffic control; its analysts come from the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other agencies. The CIA, the FBI and other law-enforcement units are expected to carry out anti-terrorism operations based on information collected by the NCTC.
As part of Bush's tour, employees demonstrated visual technology that allow them to quickly zoom in on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and on Boston's Logan International Airport. They also showed him a real-time video image of a runway.
The American people can take comfort in knowing that "twenty-four hours a day there's some really fine people spending a lot of time doing whatever they can to protect our fellow citizens," Bush said. Created by Congress and a presidential order, the center must begin operations by Friday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Redd, 60, will replace John Brennan, a longtime CIA official who has served as the center's acting director. Redd will report directly to the president.
Bush's nomination of Redd is the latest in a series of steps to change how the government collects information about terrorist threats, shares it with relevant authorities and acts on it to prevent another attack on U.S. soil.
Redd recently served as executive director of the Silberman-Robb presidential commission on U.S. intelligence in Iraq, which concluded that the intelligence was "dead wrong." Reflecting the panel's recommendations that the nation's spy agencies must share information more freely and effectively, Bush said, the center will be key in the campaign to counter terrorism by "sharing intelligence and information across jurisdictional lines to better protect the people."