Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform Bill Passes Senate, Sent to President Bush

Washington, DC – The Senate today gave final Congressional approval to the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s intelligence community since the Central Intelligence Agency was created more than 50 years ago. This historic legislation, co-authored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), reorganizes the executive branch to transform the country’s intelligence program into a modern structure designed to fight terrorism and other emerging security threats.

The Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was approved by the Senate with a 89 to 2 vote. The House of Representatives passed the bill last night by a vote of 336 to 75. The Collins-Lieberman bill will now be sent to the President for his signature.

“This is an historic day for our country and great achievement for the American people. We are enacting the most comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s intelligence agencies in more than 50 years. We are, in essence, giving the intelligence program a long overdue upgrade, so that our intelligence community has the resources, personnel, oversight, coordination, and accountability necessary to counter the security threats of today and the future. We are taking the concrete steps necessary to make Americans safer,” said Senator Collins and Lieberman in a joint statement.

“Our legislation creates a strong Director of National Intelligence – one person who will be in charge of our national intelligence community. It establishes a National Counterterrorism Center that will coordinate all national intelligence information and connect the dots. Our bill also takes groundbreaking steps to improve border security, transportation security, information sharing, and driver’s license standards to help eliminate fraud.”

The Collins-Lieberman bill creates a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The new DNI will serve as the head of the country’s intelligence community and the principal adviser to the President. The NCTC will ensure that the various intelligence agencies currently scattered across the Federal Government will now work side-by-side, sharing and analyzing critical information.

“This legislation is going to make a real difference to the security of our country. It is going to improve the quality of intelligence provided to our military and it will help to keep civilians safer here at home,” said Senator Collins. “I am so proud that Congress was able to put the American people and our nation’s security first, and work across party lines and with the President to achieve this monumental task.”

“This bill is a landmark achievement because for the first time in over half a century we are going to modernize our national intelligence structure to meet the new challenges we face in today’s uncertain world,” said Senator Lieberman. “Our terrorist enemies today make no distinction between soldiers and civilians or between foreign and domestic locations when they attack. To defeat them, we must have the best possible intelligence about their plans before they strike so we can stop them before they strike.”

The Collins-Lieberman bill also accomplishes the following:

• Allows the DNI to create national intelligence centers to integrate capabilities from across the Intelligence Community in order to accomplish intelligence missions.
Each center will have primary responsibility for providing all-source analysis of intelligence about specific topics of interest and proposing collection requirements
to the DNI.

• Ensures that the DNI controls the national intelligence budget. The DNI will develop and determine the budget for the intelligence community, and will provide
exclusive direction for the flow of funds from the U.S. Treasury to intelligence agencies.

• Provides the DNI with the authority to transfer personnel and funds to ensure that the Intelligence Community is flexible and can respond to emerging threats.

• Creates a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to ensure privacy and civil liberties concerns are being protected as the President and executive agencies propose and implement policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism. The board will also conduct investigations and oversight and will report to Congress
regularly on its findings.

• Requires the establishment of an information sharing network to break down the stovepipes that currently impede the flow of information. The network is to consist
of policies and information technology designed to facilitate and promote the sharing of terrorism information throughout the federal government, with state and local agencies, and where appropriate, with the private sector.

• Also includes provisions to: Tighten criminal laws and penalties that apply to terrorists and those who support terrorists; make the country’s borders, transportation,
and critical infrastructure more secure by investing in more modern technologies and requiring better identification procedures; promote aggressive outreach to the Muslim world to dry up terrorists’ supply of new recruits; improve communications among federal, state and local law enforcement coast to coast.