WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted yesterday to overhaul a national intelligence network that failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, combining under one official control fo 15 spy agencies, intensifying aviation and border security and allowing more wiretaps of suspected terrorists.
“We have come a long way toward taking steps that will ensure that we do not see another September 11th,” said House Rules chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.). Now “we have in place a structure that will ensure that we have the intelligence capability to deal with conflicts on the ground wherever they exist.”
The House voted 336 to 75 to send the Senate legislation to create a new national intelligence director, establish a counterterrorism center, set priorities for intelligence gathering and tighten U.S. borders. The measure would implement the biggest change to U.S. intelligence gathering and analysis since the creation of the CIA after World War II to deal with the newly emerging Cold War.
The new structure should help the nation’s 15 intelligence agencies work together to protect the country from attacks like the ones that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, lawmakers said.
“I have always said that good people need better tools. Here come the tools to help good people succeed,” said Rep. Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The GOP-controlled Senate plans to pass the bill today and send it to President Bush for his signature.
Congressional approval would be a victory for Bush, whose leadership was questioned after House Republicans refused to vote on the bill two weeks ago despite his urging.“The president was monitoring the debate on C-SPAN in the conference room on Air Force One,” White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. “The president is very pleased with House passage. He knows that this bill will make America safer. … He greatly looks forward to Senate passage and ultimately to signing the bill into law.”
House version of intelligence bill combines control of 15 spy agencies under one intelligence director
Proposal also steps up aviation and border security
Bill passed House 336 to 75, and the Senate is expected to pass it today