WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress yesterday ordered the biggest overhaul of U.S. intelligence in a half-century, replacing a network geared to the Cold War fight against communism with a post-Sept. 11 structure requiring military and civilian spy agencies to work together against terrorists intent on holy war.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation 89 to 2, one day after the House easily pushed through the compromise strongly endorsed by President Bush.
“The world has changed,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn). “Our terrorist enemies today make no distinction between soldiers and civilians, between foreign and domestic locations when they attack us.”
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks three years ago on New York City and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people, proved that the intelligence operation established in World War II and modified afterward to fight communism wasn’t effective enough against the threats of the new century, senators said yesterday.
“We are rebuilding a structure that was designed for a different enemy at a different time, a structure that was designed for the Cold War and has not proved agile enough to deal with the threats of the 21st century,” said Senate Governmental Affairs chairwoman Susan Collins, (R-Maine).
Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) voted against the bill, with Byrd saying that it was folly to expect a law to make America safer from foreign terrorists.
“No legislation alone can forestall a terrorist attack on our nation,” Byrd said.
Outside the Senate doors were several of the family members who had lobbied Congress carrying pictures of their loved ones who died in Pennsylvania, the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.
“I don’t think we’ve really digested it yet,” said Mary Fetchet, a social worker from New Canaan, Conn., whose 24-year-old son Brad died at the World Trade Center. “It’s been very emotional.”