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US House Passes Intelligence Legislation - 2001-12-12

The House of Representatives has passed a compromise bill funding U.S. intelligence agencies. Lawmakers say the legislation contains provisions that will help the United States in its war on terrorism.

The legislation which must be approved by the Senate before it is signed by President Bush is a compromise measure between bills passed by the House and Senate.

It will boost spending for intelligence agencies by eight percent, one percent more than Mr. Bush requested.

Congressman Porter Goss, a Republican from Florida, is chairman of the Intelligence Committee. "Intelligence is our first line of defense, and it must be treated as such, especially in our war against terrorism, one of the new transnational threats we are regretably beginning to understand a lot better," he said.

The compromise measure drops a House proposal for an independent panel to assess why the intelligence community failed to uncover the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in advance. Instead, the Senate and House Intelligence Committees will study the issue.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, the Intelligence Committee's top Democrat who had sought the outside panel, said she is disappointed. "I am concerned that an independent review would have had the credibility with the American people that a Congressional review, no matter how professionally done, will not," she said.

The compromise legislation calls for revitalizing the National Security Agency so that it can better analyze information it gathers from broadcasts, computers and other electronic means of communication. It also places new emphasis on developing human intelligence, and hiring people with special language skills something agencies have been struggling to do.