Senate Panel Takes Up Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform Legislation

Washington, DC – Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) today led a business meeting of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to consider the Collins-Lieberman National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004. The legislation would create a National Intelligence Director (NID) with strong budget, personnel, and other authorities. It also creates a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to integrate intelligence capabilities and conduct joint operational planning among intelligence agencies.  

“Nothing we do is as important as improving our national security. Our legislation represents the most sweeping reform of the nation’s intelligence community in more than fifty years,” said Senators Collins and Lieberman in a joint statement. “We are very pleased with the progress we made today. We are confident our Committee will be able to complete action on our legislation by the end of tomorrow and send it to the full Senate for consideration.”   The Collins-Lieberman legislation provides the NID with strong budget and tasking authorities, budget and personnel transfer authority, and provides assurances that defense and other department’s intelligence needs are satisfied by the NID. It also incorporates language on information sharing to help ensure that as new, compatible channels for information sharing are established, that the information is protected from unintended disclosure. “This amendment will strengthen the NID’s budget authorities and enhance the NID’s accountability, so that we can be sure the intelligence community is utilizing its resources wisely and effectively. It will also give the NID the power he needs – power the Director of Central Intelligence currently does not have – to effectively manage the national elements of the intelligence community,” said Senator Collins.   “Chairman Collins and I set out to create an intelligence network more powerful, agile, and creative than the enemy before us,” Lieberman said.  “We agree with the 9/11 Commission that the network must have a powerful leader – not a titular head, but a motivating force with the authority to move money and people to prevent terror and adapt quickly to terrorist tactics.  A powerful, independent National Intelligence Director would transform the way the intelligence community works. Under our proposal, if someone asks, who’s in charge, he will not be met with the same blank stares that met the 9/11 Commission investigators. Our proposal is clear: the National Intelligence Director is in charge.”   Senators Collins and Lieberman were assigned by Senate Leaders to examine the recommendations of the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks Upon the Untied States, known as the 9/11 Commission. The Governmental Affairs Committee was specifically tasked with examining the proposals to create a NID and NCTC and to create legislation to reorganize the Executive Branch of the intelligence program. Senators Collins and Lieberman have scheduled the Governmental Affairs Committee to hold another business meeting on Wednesday, September 22nd, at 10:00am.