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Bush Expands Powers of CIA Chief - 2004-08-28

The head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency will have broad new powers under a plan by President Bush to streamline intelligence gathering in an era of terrorist threats. It is one of a series of executive orders suggested by the bipartisan commission investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks.

President Bush says a new CIA director will be the single official coordinating all foreign and domestic intelligence activities. That authority will then pass to a new National Intelligence Director, once the position is created by Congress.

The president has ordered the creation of a national counter-terrorism center to organize a central databank about known and suspected terrorists, and produce a daily terrorism report.

He has also created a civil liberties board to monitor increased information-sharing practices.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said the changes will make the nation safer.

"America faces a great threat, and our government is doing everything in its power to confront and defeat that threat," said president Bush. "We have made great progress against the terrorists, who seek to harm our nation. We have made great progress in protecting our homeland. In all that lies ahead, America will stay focused and determined, and we will prevail."

Many of these changes were recommended by the bipartisan commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Mr. Bush had already announced his support for a National Intelligence Director, but it was not clear whether that person would have the budgetary authority suggested in the commission's final report.

The president's executive orders make clear that he will back that broader authority in negotiations with Congress to create the post.

Legislators are expected to take up the issue when they return to work in early September. Mr. Bush urged Senators to quickly approve his nomination of Florida Congressman Porter Goss to head the CIA following the departure of George Tenet.