This week, Bush signed a series of executive orders to support counterterrorism activities and addressed the plans in his weekly radio address Saturday. Some of the orders reflect specific recommendations of the 9/11 commission, which concluded that America is safer but not safe enough from terrorist threats. The president called for the creation of a national counterterrorism center, an expanded role for the Central Intelligence Agency director, and better sharing of information between government agencies. Bush has asked the CIA director to temporarily perform the functions of a national intelligence director within the constraints of existing law until Congress establishes that position formally. "I agree with the 9/11 commission that America needs a single official to coordinate the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence community with authority over personnel budgeting and policy," Bush said. "I am working with Congress to create this position. And while we act, the director of central intelligence will play an expanded role." The president also urged Congress to act swiftly on his nomination of U.S. Rep. Porter Goss to lead the CIA. He described Goss, a Florida Republican, as a "proven reformer with decades of experience in intelligence." In creating a new counter-terrorism center, Bush said his goal is to build upon the capabilities of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which he created more than a year ago, informs CNN. According to VOANews, 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. President Bush issued a new order on Friday enhancing the powers of the director of central intelligence, but the White House said that new legislation was still needed to establish the kind of strong national intelligence director recommended by the independent Sept. 11 commission. The move, along with a separate order to establish a new national counterterrorism center, was described by the White House as "a down payment'' toward the more extensive overhaul recommended by the commission, whose terms are now the subject of a debate on Capitol Hill. A senior White House official called the moves a strong signal that Mr. Bush wanted the existing head of the Central Intelligence Agency, as an interim measure, to take the lead in overseeing all of the country's 15 intelligence agencies, along the lines envisioned for a future national intelligence chief. The official said the order would give the existing intelligence chief limited new authorities in determining the budget of national-level intelligence programs. But Congressional Democrats called on the White House to go further by endorsing a recommendation by the Sept. 11 commission that any new national intelligence director established by Congress be given hiring, firing and budgetary authority over all the intelligence agencies, reports the NYTimes.
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