Democrats propose intelligence chief

House Resolution 4104: Intelligence Transformation Act of 2004

House Democrats want an integrated intelligence network, a single person in charge of all national intelligence agencies and a center for data on weapons of mass destruction.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) on April 1 introduced the Intelligence Transformation Bill, which calls for the establishment of an integrated intelligence network to provide communications capabilities to "all elements of the intelligence community," a director of national intelligence with statutory and budget authority over all aspects of the intelligence community, and a center to collect and analyze data relating to weapons of mass destruction. The legislation was co-sponsored by every Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Harman's measure proposes "jointness" in the collection and analysis of intelligence, modeled after the changes to the military that Congress mandated in the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. In addition, Harman's bill would create a modern technological infrastructure to improve intelligence analysis and collaboration across agencies, and a new WMD Proliferation Threat Integration Center to provide integrated tasking of collection and analysis on the proliferation threat, according to a statement issued by Harman. The center would be comprised of elements of the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Energy, Homeland Security and State departments.

The integrated intelligence network, according to the bill, would ensure that communications among the many intelligence agencies would never again be a problem as it was before Sept. 11, 2001. One of the most constant criticisms of the intelligence community after the terrorist attacks is that the different elements didn't share necessary information to predict or prevent the attacks.

The bill said the network should provide access to the data for the intelligence community.

The director of national intelligence and the Defense Department's secretary would be responsible for policies and procedures relating to interoperability, connectivity and security.

"The terrorists and the enemies of the United States will not wait until after November to plot their attacks — nor will they check our party registration before they launch those attacks against us," Harman said in the statement. "We cannot afford to wait. This task is urgent."

President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address ordered the creation of a Terrorist Threat Integration Center "to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location."

"Our government must have the very best information possible, and we will use it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect our citizens," Bush said.

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