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Commission Calls for New Counter-Terror Agency -- Homeland Security Not Enough!
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<-- Return To TerrorSpeak

Source: Reuters

Commission Calls for New Counter-Terror Agency

Vicki Allen

Nov. 14, 2002 14:39 EDT

WASHINGTON - Saying a huge new Department of Homeland Security was not enough protection from terrorism, a congressional advisory panel on Thursday said another new agency was needed to analyze information on terrorist threats collected domestically and abroad.

In findings released to Congress, the advisory commission headed by former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore called for a separate National Counter Terrorism Center to consolidate analysis of information on international terrorists and to take over intelligence gathering now done by the FBI.

``There are misgivings about the idea of a new agency, but frankly our commission doesn't seem to see any alternative,'' Gilmore told a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Gilmore released portions of the commission's fourth report ahead of schedule, saying he thought it would be timely as Congress in the next few days was expected to send President Bush legislation to create a $38 billion Department of Homeland Security to better protect the country from terrorist threats. The full report is due in December.

His testimony came as U.S. intelligence analysts are examining an audiotape that indicates that Osama bin Laden is probably alive, raising heightened concerns of new attacks.

While the report said some commission members worried about simply creating even more bureaucracy on top of the Homeland Security Department, the panel concluded that a separate intelligence analysis center would be ``an 'honest broker' for competing requirements -- and would not be viewed as tied to any single agency's mission.''

After criticisms that the CIA and FBI failed to share key information before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the panel said the government's ``artificial distinction between 'foreign' and 'domestic' terrorist threats'' must be lifted.

It said big entrenched agencies such as the CIA and the FBI would not be able to change quickly enough to respond to emerging threats, and a new agency could better fuse the flow of information.

The commission also said since the FBI is primarily a law enforcement agency, its intelligence gathering functions on international terrorist activities in the United States should be moved to a separate agency as ``there is a big difference between dealing with a terrorist act as a crime to be punished and dealing with it as an attack to be prevented.''

While creating a domestic intelligence agency raises concerns of infringing on civil liberties, Gilmore said the new agency would operate under tight restraints to ensure ``proper'' intelligence gathering.

Gilmore urged federal agencies to be more willing to share information with state and local authorities, saying, ``A simple color coded warning that we're at a high level of concern just isn't enough.''

<-- Return To TerrorSpeak

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