Bush Backs Full Budget Powers for Intel Chief
The White House unveiled plans Wednesday to give a new national intelligence director strong budgetary authority over much of the nation’s intelligence community, a key provision in the Sept. 11 commission’s recommendations. President Bush intends to give the intelligence director full budget authority over the National Foreign Intelligence Program and “the management tools” to oversee the intelligence community and integrate foreign and domestic intelligence, the White House said in a statement.
The administration’s plan comes as the Senate prepares to start crafting its own legislation to address criticisms from the 9/11 commission that the nation’s 15 different intelligence agencies did not work together properly to stop the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. Bush revealed his plans in a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties. Leaders were then briefed by Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. The administration’s plan would give the national intelligence director “sufficient authority to not be a figurehead and really manage intelligence,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee — which is writing the legislation the Senate will consider — also called the Bush recommendations “a very significant step.”
I’m not sold on this idea yet but must admit that it’s very smart politics. Kerry came out weeks ago endorsing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, so it will be difficult for him to criticize the president on this move and it’s one that has strong bipartisan support. That doesn’t mean it’s going to solve our problems with intelligence, of course.