Under New Bill, Commanders Will Continue to Take Orders From Secretary of Defense, Who Will Take Orders From Bush
In efforts to curb threats against national security, legislation to repair the nation’s intelligence agencies has been approved by the House of Representatives.
In a 336-75 vote, the legislation signifies the creation of a national intelligence director, the establishment of a counterterrorism center, new intelligence gathering procedures, as well as the tightening of US borders.
Other provisions of the bill include strict anti-terrorism procedures such as increased powers to wire tap terrorists and improving airline baggage screening procedures. The number of border patrol agents will be increased by 2,000 per year for five years. There will also be new standards regarding information that driver’s licenses must contain.
It is also likely to help the nation’s 15 intelligence agencies work collectively in protecting the country from potential terrorist attacks.
“We have come a long way toward taking steps that will ensure that we do not see another September 11,” said David Dreier (R-Calif). Dreier also added, “We have in place a structure that will ensure that we have the intelligence capability to deal with conflicts on the ground wherever they exist.”
Rep. Ray Layhood (R-Ill) disagrees with the implementation of such a bill. “I believe creating a national intelligence director is a huge mistake.”
“It’s another bureaucracy; its another layer of government. It would not have prevented 9/11 and it will not prevent another 9/11,” said Layhood. Sixty-seven Republicans voted against the legislation.
Both the September 11 Commission and the families of the victims have been lobbying for Senate to pass the bill however, there were issues of concern amongst congressional leaders that prevented immediate passage.
Duncan Hunter (R-Cali), Chairman of the Armed Services initially believed that the national intelligence director would come in between the military commanders and the president. However, after a meeting was held amongst GOP leaders, the language in the original bill was modified to gauge the powers of the new intelligence director.
Now Hunter assures that military commanders will take orders from “the secretary of defense and above him from the president of the United States.” Hunter added “they have every military asset under his command, including intelligence assets.”
For the most part congressional leaders are confident that the bill will provide changes.
“We are going to create a more aggressive, a more vibrant, and a more organized intelligence community that is going to give policy-makers the information that they need to make the appropriate decisions. It’s going to give and continue to give very, very good information to our war-fighters,” said Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Senate planned to sign the bill Wednesday. Upon passage it will then be sent to President Bush for his signature.