Bush Calls for New Intelligence Director

AP – Bush Calls for New Intelligence Director

President Bush on Monday endorsed creation of a national intelligence czar and counterterrorism center – his first steps in revamping the nation’s intelligence-gathering system to help prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “We are a nation in danger,” Bush said as he announced his position during an appearance with top administration national security figures in the White House Rose Garden. Bush thus embraced, with some changes, two key recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission, which outlined lapses in intelligence that left America vulnerable to the attacks.

Homeland security has taken center stage on the presidential campaign with both Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry dueling over their national security credentials.
Kerry, who has given a blanket endorsement to all the commission’s recommendations, applauded Bush for embracing some commission proposals. But he said the president wasn’t moving with sufficient urgency. “The time to act is now, not later,” the senator declared, saying Bush should call Congress back from its summer recess to begin working on the changes.

Considering that the report has been out ten days and that making this announcement last week would have been roundly criticized for trying to overshadow the Democratic National Convention, it’s unclear how the president could have reacted more swiftly. Now, granted, there was nothing preventing him from doing this without waiting for the Commission’s report but that, too, would have been criticized by the Kerry camp.

The bipartisan panel’s most overarching recommendations in a 567-page report were for creation of a counterterrorism center, which the commission envisions as a joint operational planning and intelligence center staffed by personnel from all the spy agencies, and a national intelligence czar. The chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton have insisted that the center and the national intelligence director position be placed in the executive office of the president to give the White House clout in dealing with all intelligence agencies. Bush said he wants them outside the White House. “I don’t think the person should be a member of my Cabinet,” he said. “I will hire the person and I can fire the person. … I don’t think that the office should be in the White House, however, I think it should be a stand-alone group to better coordinate.”

Kerry criticized the president for ignoring the panel’s recommendation to put the director in the White House. “You give greater power and leverage to the person who is the national director if they are seen as speaking directly for the president within the White House,” Kerry said. “You also coordinate more effectively with the other agencies that you need to coordinate in order to summon the greatest possible response to protect Americans.”

I’m rather agnostic on the issue of a DNI, let alone whether it’s a cabinet post or where his office is located. Given that my interest in the issue is leaps and bounds more than that of the average undecided voter, my strong guess is this narrow difference will have approximately zero impact on the campaign.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. bryan says:

    I fail to see how acting 2-5 days earlier would have done more to stop terrorism, especially given the fact that this DNI will have to go through a confirmation hearing in the midst of an election campaign.

    As well, calling congress back from summer recess is rich, considering how Kerry isn’t even there when congress is in session.

  2. I’m sticking with my argument that the DHS’ IAIP was set up to do precisely this task, but the White House then created the TTIC, which prevents DHS from doing its job.

  3. Rev. Scat says:

    Funny. For someone who opposed the creation of this commission at ALL, Bush sure is going along with their suggestions like a good boy. Hmm. Wonder what the polls say?

  4. McGehee says:
  5. Joseph Marshall says:

    “I’m rather agnostic on the issue of a DNI, let alone whether it’s a cabinet post or where his office is located. Given that my interest in the issue is leaps and bounds more than that of the average undecided voter, my strong guess is this narrow difference will have approximately zero impact on the campaign.”

    Probably quite true. But when the sum total of your entire argument for remaining President is your vigorous pursuit of a “war on terror”, you have to keep up the appearance of vigorous response, even if its only really spinning wheels, or the average undecided voter just might notice. After all, there is another guy there waiting to point it out.

  6. McGehee says:

    But when the sum total of your entire argument for remaining President is your vigorous pursuit of a “war on terror”

    False premise — just like those who claim the “sum total” of the rationale for going into Iraq was WMDs.

  7. Joseph Marshall says:

    Well, McGehee, I haven’t heard anybody make any other arguments for it that anyone is taking seriously.

    Why don’t you give it a try? Tell me just why anyone should vote for George W. Bush in a way that makes no mention of “homeland security” or the two wars we’re still fighting.

    What sterling achievements of this President–who has had majorities of his party in Congress and a Supreme Court relatively favorable to his ideology–would you bring forth?

    As far as I can see, the greatest advantage John Kerry has is that he doesn’t have to run against Geroge Bush’s record. George doesn’t have one of any consequence. Not even a “conservative” one.

  8. bryan says:

    Joseph,

    here’s two for you:

    1. tax cuts.
    2. prescription drug benefit.

    there are others, I’m sure, that can be pointed out. Not great stuff, I’m sure, but the tax cuts and drug benefit are two that are of more than “no consequence.”

    But you’re right about Kerry not running with Bush’s record. He isn’t even running on his OWN record.

  9. McGehee says:

    I haven’t heard anybody make any other arguments for it that anyone is taking seriously.

    Nice ready-made filter there. Works great for people who want to keep pretending WMDs were the only reason to go into Iraq.

    I’ll leave your brick wall undented since you seem to take such pride in it.

  10. Joseph Marshall says:

    Four full years and a Republican congress, and that’s all you can come up with? Give me a break!

    Since you don’t like Democrats, just take a few minutes and compare this to either four years of the Reagan Administration. And Reagan had to get a Democratic Congress to cooperate with him.

    The difference is absolutely ludicrous. The besetting sin of the current President is that he is a lazy and inattentive executive sad sack.

    He’s the sort of CEO who thinks “work” is something you assign to underlings, never pays them bonuses or overtime, and spends his day fiddling with his broker to leverage good profits on his stock options by cooking artificial “productivity increases” to inflate the quarterly profit report.

    Well, at least he’s in good company here in America. And we pay CEO’s like this more every decade.

  11. Uncle Vic says:

    Rev:

    You got it right. Bush was opposed to it and now he’s gutted the main recommendations. Lying about it too, o’ course.

    Don’t ever listen to mcgehee. He’s the chump of the web, and an A-No. 1 Rove puppet.