News

Bush Acts on WMD Commission Recommendations

The Bush Administration is trying to improve efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  The changes follow recommendations from a presidential panel investigating why American intelligence agencies were so wrong about Iraqi weapons programs before the U.S.-led invasion.

The White House is endorsing nearly all of the recommendations from a bipartisan commission that investigated pre-war intelligence failures.

The immediacy of the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was President Bush's biggest justification for toppling Saddam Hussein two years ago. None of those weapons were found, and the commission concluded that American spy agencies were "dead wrong" in almost all of their judgments about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons.
 
Completing a 90-day review of the commission's findings, White House Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend says the administration is taking steps to gather more reliable intelligence while making the nation safer.

"A stronger, more vibrant intelligence community produces better intelligence products upon which good decisions can be made," said Ms. Townsend.  "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."

Chief among the commission's recommendations was the creation of a single director of national intelligence to oversee all U.S. spy operations.  President Bush agreed and already has Ambassador John Negroponte on the job after a relatively quick Senate confirmation.

But much of Mr. Negroponte's challenge in coordinating intelligence gathering and analysis is overcoming a bureaucracy spread through different, sometimes competing, departments.

So far, Ms. Townsend says she is pleasantly surprised at how open intelligence officials have been to making changes in the middle of a continuing fight against terrorism.

"We've enjoyed a good deal of success," she added.  "The FBI has disrupted plots at home and the CIA has disrupted plots away. And while there have been mistakes and places where we are weak and we need to strengthen it, people are very committed. I have not seen the sorts of bureaucratic struggles that you might expect."

President Bush has signed an executive order blocking the assets of people engaged in trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.  He has also approved the creation of a National Security Service within the FBI specializing in intelligence and other national security matters in cooperation with the Justice Department.

There is a new National Counter Proliferation Center to manage and coordinate investigations into nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well as their delivery systems.

The president is calling on Congress to make improvements that require legislative action, including greater oversight and the extension of electronic surveillance in cases involving foreign agents who are not U.S. citizens.

Ms. Townsend says there has been no determination of who should be held accountable for intelligence failures in the run-up to the Iraqi invasion.  She says that will be up to National Intelligence Director Negroponte.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs