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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 16:19 GMT
Bush passes US intelligence bill
President Bush (C) signs the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 in Washington DC
President Bush says the new measures will better protect the US
US President George Bush has signed into law a far-reaching overhaul of the country's intelligence agencies.

The new measures - the most sweeping changes in nearly 60 years - are intended to prevent a repeat of the 11 September attacks.

They will lead to the creation of a national intelligence director to oversee the work of the 15 US security agencies, including the CIA and FBI.

Intelligence officials will also be granted greater surveillance powers.

"Our vast intelligence enterprise will become more unified, co-ordinated and effective," Mr Bush said at the signing ceremony.

"It will enable us to better do our duty, which is to protect the American people," he added.

'Unified enterprise'

Under the new law, a single individual will be put in charge of co-ordinating the work of the country's spy agencies, as well as their multibillion dollar budgets.

"A key lesson of 11 September is that America's intelligence agencies must work together as a single, unified enterprise," Mr Bush said.

US INTELLIGENCE BILL
Establishes director of national intelligence
Creates a national counter-terrorism centre
Sets up a civil liberties board
Increases border patrols
Tightens visa requirements
Strengthens rights to investigate terror suspects

A national counter-terrorism centre will also be created.

The law will allow operatives to place wiretaps on suspected terror suspects and to improve the efficiency of baggage-screening equipment at borders and airports.

The legislation was the result of the year-long investigation by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission into the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

The inquiry found the country's intelligence agencies failed to share information and were often engaged in bureaucratic competition.

Such weaknesses, it concluded, were partly to blame for the failure to prevent the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The 9/11 attacks prompted US intelligence changes




SEE ALSO:
US Congress reforms intelligence
08 Dec 04 |  Americas
Spy chiefs face uncertain times
08 Dec 04 |  Americas
Bush orders review of spy forces
24 Nov 04 |  Americas
How deep are the CIA's divisions?
15 Nov 04 |  Americas
Top CIA staff quit US spy agency
16 Nov 04 |  Americas


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