Who ever said that the federal government doesn’t change? The Department of Homeland Security created a huge federal agency and altered working conditions for large numbers of federal employees. Changes to the human resources system in the Department of Defense will change the working conditions for tens of thousands of federal employees in DoD.
And the changes are not over yet. Legislation was passed Wednesday that gives final approval to the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s intelligence community since the Central Intelligence Agency was created more than 50 years ago, according to the bill’s sponsors.
The act will establish a powerful new intelligence director that will report directly to the president and a counterterrorism center.
This historic legislation, co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), reorganizes the executive branch to transform the country’s intelligence program into a modern structure designed to fight terrorism and other emerging security threats.
The bill was approved by the Senate 89-2, while the House approved the measure 336-75.
“This is an historic day for our country and great achievement for the American people. We are enacting the most comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s intelligence agencies in more than 50 years. We are, in essence, giving the intelligence program a long overdue upgrade, so that our intelligence community has the resources, personnel, oversight, coordination, and accountability necessary to counter the security threats of today and the future. We are taking the concrete steps necessary to make Americans safer,” said Collins and Lieberman in a joint statement.
“Our legislation creates a strong director of national intelligence – one person who will be in charge of our national intelligence community. It establishes a National Counterterrorism Center that will coordinate all national intelligence information and connect the dots. Our bill also takes groundbreaking steps to improve border security, transportation security, information sharing, and driver’s license standards to help eliminate fraud.”
The White House is already making arrangements for Bush to sign the bill soon in a ceremony that will include some relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, members of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the attacks, and Republicans and Democrats who overcame concerted opposition from the Pentagon to pass the measure.
The Collins-Lieberman bill creates a director of National Intelligence and a National Counterterrorism Center. The new DNI will serve as the head of the country’s intelligence community and the principal adviser to the President. The NCTC will ensure that the various intelligence agencies currently scattered across the federal government will now work side-by-side, sharing and analyzing critical information.
“This legislation is going to make a real difference to the security of our country. It is going to improve the quality of intelligence state and local agencies, and where appropriate, with the private sector,” Collins and Lieberman said.
The bill also includes provisions to: tighten criminal laws and penalties that apply to terrorists and those who support terrorists; make the country’s borders, transportation, and critical infrastructure more secure by investing in more modern technologies and requiring better identification procedures; promote aggressive outreach to the Muslim world to dry up terrorists’ supply of new recruits; and improve communications among federal, state and local law enforcement coast to coast.