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 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 2, 2004

Fact Sheet: Making America Safer by Strengthening Our Intelligence Capabilities

"All the institutions of our government must be fully prepared for a struggle against terror that will last into the future. Our goal is an integrated, unified national intelligence effort. Therefore, my administration will continue moving forward with additional changes to the structure and organization of our intelligence agencies... All these reforms have a single goal: We will ensure that the people in government responsible for defending America and countering terrorism have the best possible information to make the best decisions."

President George W. Bush, August 2, 2004

Today's Presidential Action

  • Following a careful review of the 9/11 Commission report, President Bush today announced his support for the creation of the new position of National Intelligence Director (NID) and looks forward to working with the Congress to move forward the necessary process of intelligence reform as quickly as possible.
  • The President also announced he will establish a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and take other actions designed to continue the process, underway since September 11, 2001, of strengthening America's ability to win the war on terrorism.
  • The President agrees with the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for improving information sharing among agencies involved in national security work, embracing the information revolution while protecting sensitive national security information and preserving privacy, and the continued changes underway at the CIA and FBI. During the coming days, the President will issue several Presidential directives to advance these goals.
  • The President strongly supports the 9/11 Commission's recommendations regarding congressional oversight reorganization for both intelligence and homeland security.
  • The President has already taken numerous actions since September 11, 2001, to better address terrorist threats to our nation. With today's announcement and the Presidential directives to be issued during the coming days, the President will have taken actions consistent with almost every one of the 9/11 Commission's recently published recommendations.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

  • During the last three years, the Bush Administration has implemented the most sweeping changes to the organization of our national security institutions since World War II, and has launched a number of significant foreign policy and homeland security initiatives consistent with 9/11 Commission recommendations. We created a new Department of Homeland Security and ensured it has the resources and authority to protect the homeland. We established the Terrorist Threat Integration Center to integrate and analyze, in a single place, both foreign and domestic intelligence on global terror. We have transformed the primary focus of the FBI to preventing terrorist attacks. President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act, which strengthens law enforcement's abilities to prevent, investigate, and prosecute acts of terror, facilitating Federal government efforts to thwart potential terrorist activity throughout the United States. And we are continuing to expand and strengthen the intelligence collection and analytical capabilities of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Taking the next logical steps to build upon these and other efforts, President Bush today called for the establishment of a National Intelligence Director and a National Counterterrorism Center.
  • National Intelligence Director (NID). Once established in law, the NID will serve as the President's principal intelligence advisor and the head of the Intelligence Community. The NID's authorities and responsibilities will further enhance the ability of our intelligence community to give the President and his advisors an integrated intelligence product on threats to our national security and improve the warning function of intelligence. This will help to make certain that every President has the best, unbiased, unvarnished assessment of America's intelligence professionals. These organizational changes will allow a Director of the CIA to focus solely on foreign intelligence collection, analysis, and any additional responsibilities assigned by the President. It will not only lead to improvements in the quality of analysis, but will also ensure that our human intelligence collection capabilities continue to grow in their quantity and quality. The NID will:
    • Assume the responsibilities and authorities of the current Director of Central Intelligence as head of the Intelligence Community, including responsibilities to oversee the national intelligence program and its budget, and coordinate the activities of the CIA, DoD intelligence agencies, the FBI's intelligence and counterterrorism activities, and parts of the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Have the authority and responsibility for presenting an integrated intelligence budget to the President for his consideration through the existing OMB budget process, and increased authority in the selection of personnel at national intelligence agencies.
    • Oversee the work of the newly created National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The Director of the NCTC will report to the NID.
    • Through the NCTC, have overall responsibility within the U.S. Government for integrating foreign and domestic intelligence related to terrorism.
    • Be a Presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed position who will serve at the pleasure of the President, report to the President, and be available to testify before a new, streamlined oversight structure set up by Congress. The NID will not be a member of the President's Cabinet and will not be located in the Executive Office of the President.
  • National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Building on the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), the NCTC will be responsible for analyzing and integrating foreign and domestic intelligence acquired from all U.S. Government departments and agencies pertaining to terrorism. The Center will identify, coordinate, and prioritize the counterterrorism intelligence requirements of America's intelligence agencies. TTIC analytical capabilities will be integrated into the NCTC. All departments and agencies that have analytic resources on transnational terrorism, or conduct operations against transnational terrorism, will contribute analysts and staff to the NCTC. The Director of NCTC will report to the President through the NID, but will not be located in the Executive Office of the President. The NCTC will:
    • Support the development and coordination of U.S. Government action plans, ensuring that individual departments and agencies receive the all-source intelligence support needed to execute their plans to counter terrorist threats against the U.S. and U.S. interests.
    • Serve as the principal U.S. Government coordinator for plans and monitor action plans of the agencies and departments for the collection of terror-related intelligence and to counter terror threats against the United States and its interests and, as appropriate, the interests of its friends and allies.
    • Concentrate analytical expertise on foreign and domestic terrorism in one location and assure the flow of alternative analytic views, to the extent they exist in the Center and among agencies and departments, to policymakers, including to the President. Agencies and departments are to retain sufficient analytic expertise on counterterrorism to support their unique operational missions.
    • Prepare the President's Terrorist Threat Report (PTTR) and a range of other integrated analytic products on terrorism.
    • Support the National Security Council's preparation of the national counterterrorism strategy, which will be coordinated with the Homeland Security Council.
    • Help identify and coordinate intelligence requirements on terror targets both overseas and at home.
    • Serve as the U.S. Government's central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups, as well as their goals, strategies, capabilities, and networks of contacts and support.
    • Coordinate counterterrorism plans and ensure all source intelligence support for counterterrorism operational planning efforts underway in the departments and agencies of government.
    • As necessary, coordinate the prioritization of and interagency law enforcement or counterterrorism response to terrorist threats, and de-conflict and track the actions of the United States Government as currently done by the interagency Counterterrorism Security Group.
  • Presidential Directives. President Bush will also issue several directives during the coming days on intelligence organization. In addition to directing the creation of the NCTC, the President will order all relevant agencies to take additional steps to adopt common databases and procedures, so intelligence and homeland security information can be shared and searched effectively, consistent with the protection of the rights of Americans. The President will direct the FBI to continue its restructuring to create a specialized workforce dedicated to the collection and analysis of domestic intelligence on terrorism, and will hold the Department of Justice and FBI leadership to specific performance standards and deadlines to ensure that the FBI's efforts are carried to completion as quickly as possible. Similarly, the President will direct the CIA to increase efforts already underway to strengthen the Agency's capabilities for gathering human intelligence and conducting all-source analysis, and establish performance standards and deadlines for the CIA as well.
  • Congressional Oversight. The President agrees with the 9/11 Commission regarding congressional oversight restructuring. As the Commission notes, congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security functions is critical, and no amount of executive branch reorganization can complete the necessary work of reshaping our approach to fighting terrorism in the absence of equally sweeping congressional reform. The President also encourages Congress to study ways to guarantee the rapid confirmation of all national security and other senior executive branch officials to improve transitions between administrations and ensure that the executive branch can operate effectively.
  • Review of WMD Intelligence and Planning. Given the growing threat of weapons proliferation around the world, the President believes it may be necessary to create a center similar to the NCTC to bring together the intelligence analysis, planning, and operations to track and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The President will ask the Commission headed by Judge Laurence Silberman and Senator Chuck Robb to address this matter in its report.

Much Work Is Already Underway

The Administration has already implemented or is implementing policies consistent with most of the 9/11 Commission's proposals relating to foreign policy and homeland security. Overseas, the Administration is aggressively pursuing a strategy that is defeating terrorists, denying them support and sanctuary, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and working to eliminate the underlying economic and social conditions that terrorists seek to exploit. The Administration is also working with its international partners to stop WMD proliferation through the Proliferation Security Initiative and other cooperative actions designed to preserve our common security.

At home, the Administration is developing and deploying cutting-edge technologies to secure our borders, ports, critical infrastructure, and other potential vulnerabilities of our homeland. We have vastly improved cooperation and information sharing among the intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities. We are employing the latest technologies to counter the threat of chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists. We are using the PATRIOT Act to track terrorists, disrupt their cells, and seize their assets. We have brought focus to federal anti-terrorism and homeland security efforts through a series of Homeland Security Policy Directives on: management of domestic incidents; integration and use of screening information; critical infrastructure identification, prioritization, and protection; national preparedness; biodefense; and the safety and security of agriculture and food supplies.