Washington, DC – Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) today unveiled legislation to reform the Executive Branch of the nation’s intelligence community. 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.
“Our response to the threat of terrorist attacks must be far-reaching and must utilize America’s full capacity to meet any challenge. We believe this legislation that we are unveiling today is an essential part of that response,” said the Senators in a joint statement
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 an NID and NCTC and to create legislation to reorganize the Executive Branch of the intelligence program.
“The fundamental obligation of government is to protect its citizens. We must transform an intelligence system designed for the Cold War into one that will help us prevail in a war against terrorism,” said Senator Collins. “Our legislation builds on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which have been an invaluable blueprint for our work. The bill includes proposals that the Commission chairmen identified as their top priorities, the creation of a National Intelligence Director and a National Counter Terrorism Center. It reflects not only the Commission’s hard work but also what we learned through eight Governmental Affairs hearings and input from many our colleagues, the White House, Secretaries Ridge and Powell, families of victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, and countless other experts in the intelligence community.”
“In its report, the 9/11 Commission indicted the status quo in America’s intelligence community and insisted on fundamental, revolutionary changes,” Lieberman said. “In the bill Senator Collins and I will put before our committee next Tuesday, those fundamental revolutionary changes are embraced and implemented. Our bill adopts the two Commission proposals which its leaders have called the most urgent and important – the creation of a National Intelligence Director and a National Counterterrorism Center. In this way we advance a new strategic vision – and a new organizational structure – so we will never again have to explain how something like September 11 could have happened.”
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 a strong budget, personnel, security, and other authorities, will be able to direct resources where and when they are needed. The NID will be responsible for managing the “National Intelligence Program,” a budget category composed of parts of the Intelligence Community that serve more than one department. However, nothing in the NID’s authority will hinder military operations or readiness.
• Defines the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget to include at least the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Office of Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate (IA&IP), plus other elements of the Intelligence Community that serve multiple federal intelligence consumers. The NIP would not include tactical military intelligence assets, which would remain under the Department of Defense.
• Creates an NCTC, expanding the community-wide intelligence analysis capabilities of the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center to include joint operational planning. The NCTC will have a Directorate of Intelligence to integrate intelligence capabilities and a Directorate of Operations to conduct this joint operational planning, concentrating on “joint” operations that involve more than one agency. 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. The board will also conduct investigations and oversight of the government’s implementation of those policies.
• Includes provisions that require 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.
Senators Collins and Lieberman have scheduled the Governmental Affairs Committee to consider and report their intelligence reform bill next week.