Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins today chaired a hearing at which FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin testified on proposals to reform the nation’s Intelligence community. This was the sixth in a series of hearings held by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to examine the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, specifically the proposals to create a National Intelligence Director and a National Counterterrorism Center. Senate leaders assigned Senator Collins’ committee the responsibility of examining those recommendations and creating legislation to reorganize the Executive Branch.
During the hearing, Senator Collins made the following statement:
“Much has changed since the attacks of September 11th; there have been many improvements. We have created the Department of Homeland Security. The Terrorist Threat Integration Center is up and running. The Joint Terrorism Task Force program has been expanded. The cooperation and coordination among our intelligence agencies have been vastly increased. The two agencies represented here today – the FBI and the CIA – have been leaders in this effort. We have strengthened our defense against terrorism, and we have gone on offense against the terrorists.
“But we have not yet transformed an intelligence community designed for the Cold War into one with the agility to respond to threats that range from nuclear missiles in North Korea to an al Qaeda operative on a highway in Maryland.
“An important step was taken less than two weeks ago when the President issued a series of executive orders to improve the agility of our intelligence community, to promote unity of effort, to enhance accountability, and to further protect civil liberties. But, as the President noted at the time, these orders are not an alternative to Congressional action. They are a starting point.
“We must continue the dramatic progress that has been made since 9/11. The intelligence structure we create must be designed for the demands of the 21st Century, for the current war against terrorism, and for the new challenges that we do not yet envision.”
St the next Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, on September 13th, Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is scheduled to testify. Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman expect the Committee to consider and report intelligence reform legislation during the week of September 20th.