President Bush Approves Intelligence Community Shake-Up

Bush OKs Shake-Up of Spy Agencies (AP)

President Bush, embracing nearly all the recommendations of a White House commission, said Wednesday he was creating a national security service at the FBI to specialize in intelligence as part of a shake-up of the disparate U.S. spy agencies.
A fact sheet describing the White House’s broad acceptance of changes said three recommendations were under review and a fourth, which remained classified, was rejected.

Bush also issued an executive order allowing the freezing of any financial assets in the U.S. of people, companies or organizations involved in the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The order designates eight organizations in Iran, North Korea and Syria. Americans also are barred from doing business with them.

“This really is intended to take what we’ve found to be a very effective tool against terrorism targets … and expand that to counterproliferation targets,” said Bush’s homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend. Treasury Secretary John Snow said the order sends a message that “if you deal in weapons of mass destruction, you’re not going to use the U.S. financial system to bankroll or facilitate your activities.” Many of the intelligence changes deal with the bureaucracy. But Townsend said it was not just a reshuffling of boxes but a “fundamental strengthening” of intelligence agencies.

Those changes include directing the Justice Department to consolidate its counterterrorism, espionage and intelligence units. Bush also will ask Congress to create an assistant attorney general position to help centralize those operations. Bush wrote in a memo to intelligence agency leaders that “further prompt action is necessary” at the Justice Department and FBI to address security challenges.


Among the changes accepted by the administration were:

_forming a National Counter Proliferation Center to coordinate the U.S. government’s collection and analysis of intelligence on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The task is now performed by many national security agencies.

_asking Congress to reform its oversight of intelligence agencies.

_putting CIA Director Porter Goss in charge of all overseas human intelligence, or traditional spy work, done by government operatives.

_proposing legislation that would extend the duration of electronic surveillance in cases involving foreign agents.

_put in place new procedures for dissenting intelligence analysis to be allowed to reach senior officials.

_giving the intelligence director a staff of “mission managers” who will develop strategies for specific intelligence areas. As an example, the commission said the director could have a mission manager focused on a specific country, such as China.

Long overdue.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.