Washington–The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee today gave unanimous approval to legislation by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) that represents the most sweeping reform of the intelligence community in more than fifty years.
The Collins-Lieberman National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 reorganizes the nation’s key intelligence agencies into a modern structure that is more capable of preventing and acting against global terrorism and other future national security threats. The Collins-Lieberman legislation largely incorporates the key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The bill creates a National Intelligence Director (NID) with strong budget, personnel, and intelligence collection and analysis authorities. It also creates a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to integrate intelligence capabilities and develop interagency counterterrorism plans and assign specific responsibilities to agencies.
“This is an historic day and a great victory for reform. The legislation that we passed today is the most sweeping and comprehensive reorganization of the intelligence community in more than half a century. It will help the government better meet its most fundamental obligation of protecting its citizens. Our bill transforms an intelligence structure designed to fight the Cold War, into an organization with the strength and agility to respond to international terrorism, rogue states, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other challenges of the 21st century,” said Senators Collins and Lieberman in a joint statement.
“Over the past two days our Committee made a few changes to the legislation. We believe these changes make our bill even stronger, without changing the basic structure of our proposal,” added the Senators. “The Committee passed a bill that remains faithful to the 9/11 Commission recommendations. We were able to turn back several amendments that might have gutted the authority of the NID or doomed the bill’s chances of passage on the floor. We thank our colleagues for their dedication and hard work to get this bipartisan legislation accomplished, and ultimately, their commitment to fulfill our duty to serve and protect the American people.”
The Collins-Lieberman intelligence reform legislation accomplishes the following:
• Creates an NID who will manage the country’s intelligence community and serve as the President’s chief intelligence adviser. This Senate-confirmed official, with strong budget, personnel, security, and other authorities, will be able to direct resources where and when they are needed.
• Creates an NCTC, expanding the community-wide intelligence analysis capabilities of the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center to include developing interagency counterterrorism plans. However, the NCTC would not have authority to direct the execution of operations by agencies and will not be in the military chain of command.
• Creates a Civil Liberties Board, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission, 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.
• Includes provisions that require the establishment of an information sharing network 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.
“Our bipartisan proposal will reorganize our intelligence agencies to create a unified structure, so that one person, the new NID, is in charge and accountable for the nation’s intelligence operations. And the creation of the NCTC will ensure there is one place where all the information comes together, and interagency plans are developed to protect our country against terrorism,” said the Senators.
As Senators Collins and Lieberman crafted their intelligence reform legislation, the Committee held eight hearings that included testimony from the 9/11 Commission’s Chair and Vice-Chair, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin, and family members of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. The Committee also received input and conducted widespread consultations with other members of the Senate, the White House, and countless other experts in the intelligence community.
Senators Collins and Lieberman were assigned by Senate Leaders to examine the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The Governmental Affairs Committee was specifically tasked with examining the proposals to create an NID and NCTC and to create legislation to reorganize the Executive Branch of the intelligence program. Senate Leaders have indicated that the full Senate will consider this legislation next week.