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Fact Sheet: President Issues New Orders to Reform Intelligence

August 27, 2004

Actions Aimed at Terrorism Prevention, Safeguarding Civil Liberties, and Further Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Executive Orders Establish Interim Powers for Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to Perform Certain Duties of a National Intelligence Director (NID) and a National Counterterrorism Center

"My most solemn duty is to protect our country... In the three years since our country was attacked, we've taken steps to overcome new threats. We will continue to do everything in our power to defeat the terrorist enemy and to protect the American people."

-- President George W. Bush, August 2, 2004

Presidential Action

On August 2, 2004, the President directed his Administration to take swift action, consistent with existing laws, on reform initiatives that would strengthen the intelligence community and improve America's ability to find, track, and stop dangerous terrorists. These initiatives are consistent with the valuable recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, and they build on previous actions the Administration has already taken to better protect America. As the President said on August 2, "All these reforms have a single goal: We will ensure that the people in government responsible for defending America and countering terrorism have the best possible information to make the best decisions."

The President issued a series of new, far-reaching orders which strain the limits of his authority but are essential to America's security.

Executive Order Directing the Strengthened Management of the Intelligence Community. Until an NID is created, the DCI will:

  • Act as the principal advisor to the President for intelligence;
  • Develop objectives and guidance for the Intelligence Community to ensure timely and effective collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence, of whatever nature and from whatever source derived, concerning current and potential threats to the security of America;
  • Develop, determine and present with the advice of the heads of Departments or Agencies that have an organization within the Intelligence Community, the annual consolidated National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) budget;
  • Report to the President on the effectiveness of implementation of the NFIP by organizations in the Intelligence Community, for which purpose the heads of departments and agencies shall ensure that the Director has access to programmatic, execution, and other appropriate information;
  • Recommend and concur in the selection of heads of intelligence organizations;
  • Supervise the newly created National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC);
  • Set standards and qualifications for training, education, career development of personnel, and the establishment of common security policies within organizations in the Intelligence Community;
  • Determine intelligence collection priorities, manage collection tasking, and resolve conflicts in the tasking of national collection assets; and
  • Ensure integrated intelligence collection against enduring and emerging national security threats.

Executive Order Establishing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The NCTC will:

  • Serve as the U.S. Government's central knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups, as well as their goals, strategies, capabilities, and networks of contacts and support;
  • Concentrate analytical expertise on terrorism in one location while maintaining competitive analysis;
  • Report to the President through the DCI (until an NID is created) and prepare the President's Terrorist Threat Report (PTTR);
  • Conduct strategic operational planning for counterterrorism activities integrating all elements of national power;
  • Ensure that individual departments and agencies receive the all-source intelligence support needed to execute their plans to counter terror threats against the U.S. and U.S. interests;
  • Identify counterterrorism intelligence requirements or perform independent, alternative analysis for the intelligence community; and
  • Assign operational responsibilities to lead agencies for counterterrorism activities.

Executive Order on Strengthening the Sharing of Terrorism Information to Protect Americans.

In this Order, the President:

  • Directed all Executive Branch agencies to make available and promptly share information relating to terrorism with other agencies with counterterrorism functions, while ensuring the information privacy rights of Americans under the law;
  • Ordered the Director of Central Intelligence to establish common standards across the intelligence community that remove constraints, provide incentives, and impose accountability for sharing information relating to terrorism; and
  • Established an Informations Systems Council that will plan for and oversee implementation of an interoperable terrorism information sharing environment that facilitates automated sharing of information relating to terrorism among agencies with counterterrorism functions.

Executive Order Establishing the President's Board on Safeguarding Americans' Civil Liberties.

The Board will:

  • Advance the President's charge to continue to enhance his commitment to safeguard the legal rights of all Americans, including freedoms, civil liberties and information privacy guaranteed by Federal law, even while the government takes all possible actions to prevent terrorist attacks on America's families and communities;
  • Advise the President on new and ongoing efforts to safeguard these legal rights, enhance cooperation and coordination in advancing the President's government-wide efforts, request reports and otherwise monitor progress, refer credible information about possible violations, and is empowered to seek outside information, perspective and advice; and
  • Utilize its speed, flexibility and authority to ensure the President's commitment is carried out; it is chaired by the Deputy Attorney General, with the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security of the Department of Homeland Security serving as Vice Chair, and includes senior officials drawn from across the Federal Government with central roles in both the War on Terror and in civil liberties and privacy issues; it is required to hold its first meeting within 20 days.

The President also has signed the following Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs):

HSPD on Terrorist-Related Screening Procedures. The Directive will:

  • Require comprehensive, coordinated government-wide, terrorist-related screening procedures to detect, identify, and interdict people and cargo that pose a threat to homeland security more effectively;
  • Further improve screening practices across the Nation with respect to border, transportation, critical infrastructure, and other screening efforts to protect our homeland; and
  • Enhance terrorist-related screening in a manner that safeguards legal rights, including freedoms, civil liberties, and information privacy guaranteed by Federal law, while facilitating the efficient movement of people and cargo.

HSPD on Policy For a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors. The Directive will:

  • Mandate the expedited, public and open development of a uniform standard for Federal employee and contractor identification that ensures security, reliability and interoperability;
  • Help close security gaps and improve our ability to stop terrorists and others from access to or attacks against critical Federal sites and cyber and other information systems; and
  • Improve efficiency among Federal agencies through more consistent systems and practices.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: President Issues New Orders to Reform Intelligence Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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