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Monday, August 02, 2004

Bush backs creation of national counter-terrorism center headed by U.S. intelligence director

"We are a nation in danger"

Wired News/Reuters: Under election-year pressure, President Bush on Monday endorsed the creation of a national intelligence director and backed other intelligence reforms recommended by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"We are a nation in danger. We're doing everything we can in our power to confront the danger," Bush said, as authorities in New York and Washington moved to protect financial institutions after receiving information that al Qaeda might attack them.

Bush stopped short of recommending the national intelligence director be located within the executive office of the presidency, as the commission had recommended. There have been bipartisan fears that putting the director in the White House could politicize the job.

"I think it ought to be a stand-alone group to better coordinate, particularly between foreign intelligence and domestic intelligence matters," Bush said in a White House Rose Garden announcement, surrounded by top national security aides.

Bush asked Congress to set up the position as part of an overhaul of the 1947 National Security Act that established the CIA and the National Security Council.

He also proposed establishment of a national counter-terrorism center to prepare a daily terrorism report for the president and act as the government's "knowledge bank" about terrorism. . . .

Bush said the panel investigating the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq should consider whether the U.S. government should establish a separate office to coordinate counter-proliferation efforts.

Bush agreed with the Sept. 11 commission that Congress needed to reform its oversight of intelligence and homeland security. "There are too many committees with overlapping jurisdiction, which wastes time and makes it difficult for meaningful oversight and reform," he said.

In other news, Kerry criticized the President for not moving fast enough to implement the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations.