Senators Collins, Lieberman Meet With President To Discuss Intelligence Reform Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Senator Joseph Lieberman met earlier today with President Bush and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, at the White House to discuss intelligence reform legislation. The Governmental Affairs Committee has been tasked with drafting legislation to implement some of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission.

During the meeting, the President said he supports providing the proposed National Intelligence Director (NID) with strong authority to oversee the budgets of most of the nation’s intelligence community and to receive the funding for the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP)—an authority the CIA director currently does not have.

“We are pleased that the President has agreed to significant budget powers for the NID,” the Senators said. “For the NID to be truly effective, that individual must have the authority to oversee and execute the budgets of the government’s national intelligence programs.”

In addition, this is a key recommendation of the 9-11 Commission. Senators Collins and Lieberman plan to include such a proposal in their legislation, which is scheduled to be considered by the Governmental Affairs Committee the week of September 20th.

The purpose of today’s meeting was for senior lawmakers, including Senators Collins and Lieberman, to discuss with the President his recommendations for intelligence reform.

“Today’s meeting with President Bush and Condoleezza Rice was very helpful as we move forward with a plan to strengthen America’s intelligence gathering and analysis to help make Americans safer. Providing a National Intelligence Director with strong authority to oversee and coordinate our intelligence gathering efforts will help ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep Americans as safe as possible,” said Senator Collins.

“I commend the President for his recent implementation of several Executive Orders that will enhance our intelligence efforts while Congress works to pass this crucial legislation. His recommendations today will be useful as Senator Lieberman and I continue work in drafting our legislation,” she added.

“The President has taken a major step forward in endorsing a National Intelligence Director with significant budget authority. His endorsement of this concept will be very helpful as Senator Collins and I craft legislation to ensure that our intelligence agencies will be in the best position possible to thwart future terrorist attacks,” said Senator Lieberman.

President Bush also endorsed the creation of a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which was recommended by the 9-11 commission and will be included in the Collins-Lieberman legislation.

Earlier today, the Governmental Affairs Committee held its sixth hearing on intelligence reform. FBI Director Robert Mueller and the Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin provided testimony on intelligence reform legislation.