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Bush Endorses Creation of New National Security Service


U.S. President George Bush is endorsing almost all of the recommendations of a special panel that studied U.S. intelligence capabilities -- including the creation of a national security service within the FBI.

The Bush's administration is implementing nearly all of the recommendations made by a presidential panel. The group investigated why the American intelligence community was wrong about Iraq's weapons programs, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

President Bush's primary justification for the invasion was the threat of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But none of those weapons have ever been found. The commission concluded American intelligence agencies were dead wrong in almost all of their judgments about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons. The Bush administration is now taking steps to improve intelligence gathering, according to White House Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend.

"A stronger, more vibrant intelligence community produces better intelligence products upon which good decisions can be made," Ms. Townsend said. " And so I think the steps that we are taking to strengthen the intelligence community help us to prevent terrorist attacks and thereby do keep the country safer."

One of the main recommendations of the commission was the creation of a single director of national intelligence - to oversee all U.S. spy operations. That was implemented during the review - with the appointment and confirmation of Ambassador John Negroponte as the Director of National Intelligence.

Another recommendation was the creation of a National Counter-Proliferation Center to manage the intelligence community's work in dealing with the threat of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI counterterrorism and intelligence operations will also be moved into a new unit.

"It pulls together the counterintelligence division, the counterterrorism division and the Directorate of Intelligence," explained FBI Director Robert Mueller, "enabling it to act together to develop intelligence and then to act on that intelligence, in consultation and with not only {the} Department of Justice, but also the Director of National Intelligence."

Another change being made is at the Department of Justice, where the counterterrorism, espionage and intelligence units will be consolidated under a new Assistant Attorney General.

"We're confident that at the end of the day, the department, which has already made tremendous strides today in protecting America, will be an even better position to further protect America from additional terrorism," commented Alberto Gonzales, the U.S. Attorney General.

In addition, President Bush signed an executive order giving authorities the power to freeze the assets of eight foreign companies, which are allegedly involved in the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

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