The Intelligence Bill S.2845

Many eyes are on the upcoming vote on the Intelligence Reform bill, S.2845. The ACLU dislikes the centralization of intelligence work, others decry the absence of immigration reform as part of the package. Such is the art of compromise.

Key features of the new bill is the creation of the office of a National Intelligence Director:

(Sec 101) Establishes as an independent executive entity the National Intelligence Authority (NIA) to, among other things: (1) unify and strengthen efforts of the intelligence community (IC); (2) operate the National Counterterrorism Center and national intelligence centers; and (3) establish clear responsibility and accountability for counterterrorism and other intelligence matters relating to U.S. national security. Requires the NIA to be headed by a National Intelligence Director (Director), who shall: (1) serve as the head of the IC; (2) advise the President on intelligence related to national security; and (3) direct and oversee the National Intelligence Program (formerly the National Foreign Intelligence Program).

So, we have someone who stays out of the chain of command for the military but otherwise directs and controls the intelligence efforts of the entire government. As you can see, it also creates a national counterterrorism center to centrally coordinate those efforts. Even so, the key stroke is to ease the sharing of information between the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense. In addition it creates a national counterproliferation center, intended to track and interdict the supplies of WMD to terrorists, states and others out there.

Of course, the challenge has always been between groups having enough autonomy to pursue lines of investigation that interest them and then having enough authority to pursue such efforts wherever they might lead. The challenge has been the combination of local and foreign activities and that there was no government entity that made it easy to pursue and coordinate such mixed investigations.

The danger of centralization is that a singular focus always allows edge cases to slip in under the radar. Everyone involved seems to understand this, so we'll have to see how this goes.

Many of the recommendations for this bill came from the 9/11 Commission Report, which recommended several areas of unity where currently several efforts are evident. However, border security's absence is noted.

Captain Ed has similar reservations.

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Dec 7 2004 10:37 AM

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