In State of the Union address, president calls for terrorist threat integration center
In a wide-ranging State of the Union address, President Bush promised to create a center to integrate information from all intelligence sources at a single location. But Democratic leaders remained wary that it would duplicate what is already being developed.
In his address Jan. 28, Bush said intelligence and law enforcement agencies have worked more closely than ever to track and disrupt terrorist networks in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But he said he's ordering the FBI, CIA, the Homeland Security Department and the Pentagon to develop 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.
Although establishing a single operational center to analyze terrorist threats is a good idea, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, questioned why the administration waited to announce the center until after the new Homeland Security Department began operation.
"It is frustrating that the administration is coming forward with yet another proposal for this function long after the legislation establishing the [Homeland Security Department] is complete and reforms are under way at the FBI," she said. "The House Intelligence Committee will need to examine carefully how well this proposal has been thought through, but we will want to make sure something worthwhile is actually implemented and implemented quickly."
Although Bush did not say how much the new center would cost, the White House said the center would "continue to close the 'seam' between analysis of foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism."
It will create a structure to make sure there is information-sharing across agency lines and integrated to form "the most comprehensive possible threat picture."
The failure of intelligence agencies and other government departments to share information and communicate about potential threats has been cited as one of the biggest shortcomings in the war against terrorism.
In outlining the issues facing the country in 2003, Bush said, "There's never a day when I do not learn of another threat."
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