Statement of the Family Steering Committee Regarding the President’s Acceptance of Certain Recommendations
August 3, 2004
Presidential Directives – More Specifics Needed
It is encouraging to hear that President Bush mentioned that he will be issuing Presidential Directives by week’s end. We are anxious to learn the specific nature of these Presidential Directives. We are hopeful that each Presidential Directive will establish strict deadlines for their complete implementation. Furthermore, we are hopeful that President Bush will clearly state where the funding will be found for these initiatives. The Family Steering Committee maintains that such specific guidance given by the President will further enhance the likelihood of these initiatives being expedited.
The National Intelligence Director – More Specifics Needed
We also respectfully request more specific information from the President about his vision regarding the power and position of the National Intelligence Director.
In contrast to the Commission’s recommendations, the White House has indicated that it does not want the National Intelligence Director to be a Cabinet level position, and it has not yet addressed the second qualification – that the National Intelligence Director have budgetary control. It light of these differences, we respectfully request that President Bush clearly define the budgetary authorities and management capabilities of this new position.
• What are the advantages of having the National Intelligence Director position outside the White House?
• What mechanisms, such as budgetary control, will enable this individual to assert and maintain meaningful authority over the 15 intelligence agencies for which he/she is responsible?
• If this new position does not have budgetary control, where will the budgetary control be held?
• Without the authority of the White House, will the National Intelligence Director be able to overcome overbearing bureaucratic static within our national security apparatus?
• If the National Intelligence Director does not have operational control, how will accountability be assigned?
In short, how will this individual not just be another “title” in another “box” shuffled around our national security apparatus?
The concept of a National Intelligence Director is not novel. It has been broached both by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (the Scowcroft Report) and recommended by the Joint Inquiry of Congress’ Final Report.
Because the concept of a National Intelligence Director is not a novel one, we must question why this position has not been created in the past three years. We would hope that any previous opposition from the Pentagon or certain congressional committees would yield to the best interests of national security.
We appreciate ancillary concerns over the shifting of budgetary controls and management power. Nevertheless, three years post 9/11 this nation needs a National Intelligence Director equipped with all authorities as envisioned by the 9/11 Commission. All members of Congress and officials of the Department of Defense must recognize that the time has come to accept the concept of a National Intelligence Director with budgetary authority over all 15 intelligence agencies. We remain hopeful that President Bush will make this clear to both the Pentagon and the various congressional committees. The nation will not tolerate any further delay in the immediate implementation of this vital position because of any real or perceived “turf wars”.
We are also hopeful that President Bush will assuage concerns that the National Intelligence Director might be persuaded by “policy,” by vetting potential appointees to Congress and the American people immediately. Certainly, the integrity and competence of the individual who might fill this post will play a key role in whether the American people can feel confident with regard to the creation of this new position. The American public must trust that any National Intelligence Director will not infringe upon privacy rights, separations of powers principles, or abuse his/her power. We firmly believe that the individual must be apolitical, nonpartisan, highly qualified with a keen imagination, and capable of encouraging the sharing of information across intelligence agencies.
August Hearing Schedule–Need for Attendance
We encourage all Americans to read the Commission’s Final Report. We also encourage all Senators and Congressmen to attend the upcoming hearings throughout the month of August. Admittedly, not all elected representatives can directly participate in these hearings. Nevertheless, all elected representatives can learn from these hearings so that they are better prepared to support this legislation once Congress reconvenes in September. Thus, we call upon all members of Congress and all Administration officials to attend the public hearings scheduled for the month of August. Their attendance at these hearings will send a clear message to the American people that our national security is a number one priority.
Legislative Language Put Forth by Congress
All legislative bills encompassing these recommendations must be stand-alone bills. They should not have attachments. Towards that end, the American people will be able to clearly discern who supports these recommendations and who does not. All recommendations must be implemented into law in their purest form as set out by the Commission so as to not lose the integrity of the Commission’s intent.
As always, we look forward to working cooperatively with the President and our Congress so that these vital recommendations can be implemented into sound legislation prior to the next attack.
In conclusion, we look forward to President Bush’s endorsement of the remaining 39 recommendations.