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Thursday, July 22, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Making America Safer

The New York Times > Opinion > Making America Safer: "July 22, 2004
Making America Safer

Washington squandered many chances before Sept. 11, 2001, to reform the nation's outdated, encrusted intelligence bureaucracy. After the 2001 terrorist attacks exposed those agencies' horrifying shortcomings, the Bush administration made a stab at reform. But it involved half-measures that avoided the politically risky steps needed to fix the whole problem.
With the publication today of the report by the bipartisan commission on 9/11 and its recommendations on how to better protect the country, President Bush and Congress are getting another chance. The nation cannot afford for them to pass it up.
The panel is expected to recommend a much-needed change in the duties of the director of central intelligence, who has three jobs but not the power to do any of them particularly well. The director is supposed to run the Central Intelligence Agency and act as the president's chief adviser on intelligence. He is also nominally in charge of supervising and coordinating the 14 other intelligence agencies scattered through the federal government. But the director has no authority over their staffs or their budgets; about 85 percent of the intelligence money goes to the Pentagon. He is not part of the president's team, like the national security adviser, and just managing the C.I.A. is more than a full-time job."

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