President Bush Overhauls Intelligence Community

By Matthew Harwood

President Bush has signed an executive order that restructures the nation's intelligence community and further empowers the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The order revises Executive Order 12333, originally issued by President Reagan in 1981, and "advance[s] and institutionalize[s] the reforms enacted into law by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," according to the White House. That law established the position of national intelligence director to oversee the U.S.'s 16  intelligence agencies recommended by the 9/11 Commission in its report to Congress.

The executive order, according to the White House, will respect Americans' civil liberties and privacy rights and retains the existing ban on assassinations and human experimentation.

The announcement today of the executive order was met with bipartisan anger from the House Intelligence Committee.

Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), chairman of the committee, said: "After seven years of a go-it-alone presidency, perhaps I should expect nothing more from this White House. But this order will be binding on future administrations as well."

The ranking Republican on the committee, Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), said, "Given the impact that this order will have on America's intelligence community, and this committee's responsibility to oversee intelligence activities, this cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt to undercut congressional oversight."

The American Civil Liberties Union, in a press release, has also decried the revision without congressional oversight.

While Reagan's Executive Order 12333 has been revised many times since its signing, administration officials, according to the Post, say this revision is the most sweeping.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

The overhaul gives the intelligence director a greater role in hiring and firing agency heads, authority to remove barriers to intelligence sharing, and the responsibility for overseeing the acquisition of expensive programs such as new spy satellites, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It also hands the intelligence director more power to direct midlevel intelligence officers.

The revised order also gives the director the responsibility for developing policy governing relationships with foreign intelligence services, which had been handled primarily by the Central Intelligence Agency. Under the updated order, the CIA would be in charge of implementing the policy set by the intelligence director.



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