BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK
Bush overhauls domestic security
FBI agent Coleen Rowley
Agent Rowley's criticism of the FBI struck a nerve
US President George W Bush is to announce sweeping changes to the agencies charged with protecting Americans from terrorists.

The new Department of Homeland Security will co-ordinate policy on everything from border security to processing intelligence reports.

US President George W Bush
President Bush is responding to criticism of intelligence agencies
It will take responsibilities from more than 100 different agencies in what is being called the biggest shake-up of US government for 50 years, as Mr Bush takes action after apparent intelligence failures left the US unprepared for the 11 September attacks.

One of the agencies criticised for those failures - the FBI - also came under the spotlight as its director and a whistleblower testified before the Senate about changes that needed to be made.

Mr Bush's reforms come after searing criticism that turf wars and poor communication helped to create a situation where there were maybe enough strands of information to predict the New York and Washington attacks, but no-one pieced them together.

Proposals

The proposal for the new Cabinet-level department will be announced by the president in a national television address.

The intelligence "clearing-house" will:

  • Analyse intelligence from a host of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency to identify threats and stop them if possible

  • Protect critical infrastructure - including nuclear power plants, air, rail, road systems and ports

  • Lead US efforts to prepare for and cope with nuclear, chemical and biological attacks

  • Oversee federal emergency assistance

  • Unify federal authority over borders, territorial waters and transportation systems

  • Take control of the Secret Service

Under the plans, the FBI and CIA will remain independent but will funnel information to analysts in the new department who can decide if various pieces of information add up to a threat that has to be addressed.

The new department will have a staff of 170,000 drawn from other agencies and an annual budget of $37 billion.

Plans welcomed

The proposals were received warmly by politicians who had been calling for change.

Senator Joe Lieberman said: "It shows real leadership to be willing to change direction, and that is what the president has done for the security of all Americans."

His colleague Robert Byrd was a little less enthusiastic: "I only say that it is about time, and I hope that it is not too late."

The new agency will be headed by the current director of the White House Office of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, whose job was created in the immediate aftermath of 11 September.

Changes under way

FBI director Robert Mueller testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that changes had already been made and that now, unlike before 11 September, he met each morning with CIA chief George Tenet to discuss intelligence issues.

FBI director Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller testified that a new, more efficient FBI was emerging
But he admitted the need for a wholesale "top to bottom" review of the agency.

"It is a paper-driven organisation that has established regimens that we have to look at from top to bottom," he said during five hours' of testimony before the senate committee.

But cumbersome technology was partly responsible for the failure to pull together strands of intelligence and he said investment in improved computer systems was needed.

Agent's testimony

One of his agents, Coleen Rowley, also appeared before the committee.


The need for people at FBI headquarters who can connect the dots is painfully obvious

FBI agent Coleen Rowley

She was called after she wrote a damning 13-page memo to Mr Mueller detailing mistakes made by the FBI before the 11 September attacks.

"We need to streamline the FBI bureaucracy in order to better combat terrorism," she said.

"The need for people at FBI headquarters who can connect the dots is painfully obvious."

In her memo Ms Rowley, an FBI agent for 22 years, said senior personnel put "roadblocks" in the way of Minneapolis staff trying to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, now alleged to be the "20th hijacker".


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

06 Jun 02 | Americas
06 Jun 02 | Americas
03 Jun 02 | Americas
03 Jun 02 | Americas
30 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
16 May 02 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes