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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December 2004, 12:30 GMT
Will US intelligence reforms work?
Aerial view of New York's World Trade Center several days after terrorist attack in 2001
The US Senate has voted for radical changes to the country's intelligence services in a bid to prevent another attack on the scale of 11 September 2001.

A national counter-terrorism centre will be set up and a national intelligence director introduced to co-ordinate the activities of the CIA and FBI following criticism of the agencies by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

The reforms will also allow agents to wiretap possible terror suspects.

The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, now has to be signed into law by President George W Bush.

What do you think of the proposals? Will they make a difference in the war on terror?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Sharing information more effectively is very important to improving security and fighting terrorism, and while this is a step in the right direction, it is equally important to form close intelligence-sharing agreements with other countries. That will be the next important step in the war on terrorism for the US.
Miguel Gonzalez, California, USA

In my view this is just another coating of whitewash. There was nothing wrong with the intelligence before 9/11, the problem was with an administration that chose to ignore any intelligence that didn't fit in with their world view. This is just another layer of bureaucracy designed to protect the current administration.
Ed Williams, Eastbourne, UK

Organizational restructuring is a very old way of thinking a problem is fixed
Salim Hemdani, Seattle, USA
Organizational restructuring is a very old way of thinking a problem is fixed. Current intelligence agencies are in grid-lock, I think these reforms will never work as expected.
Salim Hemdani, Seattle, USA

It's nothing but smoke and mirrors! Until the President and Congress get serious about protecting our borders from those entering our nation illegally this nation will remain at risk. Everybody but the politicians seem to understand this fact.
James Battles, Sacramento USA

The same old tried and failed solutions that seem to be escalating the violent methods to seek peace in this tit-for-tat scenario. There is nothing out there that has not risen in the human mind. Change the psyche and the outside world will change in step. I cannot overstress this point.
N Rama, Sydney, Australia

They cannot and will never work. There are still too many openings that terrorists can take advantage of. e.g. of all the cargo containers that enter the US, how many of them are searched? Airport security, just how much safer is it? Moreover, there are some senior staffers in these agencies that are at cross-purposes with the official policies and aims of the agencies.
Kimani Mbugua, Nairobi, Kenya

Reorganization of incompetence will not produce competence. Pockets of skilled analysts exist within a brittle matrix of bloated self-serving middle management. Real reform would be recognition of proven performers, elimination of 80% of management and staff personnel, team-based analysis, and a commitment to analyze the data that is collected. And, oh by the way, learn to read the adversary's language.
Dennis, Maryland, USA

It seems that the whole US government policy is geared towards isolating its citizens and deterring their interaction with foreigners. A simple ploy to make the population even more ignorant of world affairs and more gullible to corporate sponsored government rhetoric.
David, Livingston, Scotland

It will not do any good if the leadership of the country listens only what they want to hear
Yakov, Moscow, Russ
No matter how you reform the intelligence, it will not do any good if the leadership of the country listens only what they want to hear and silences all voices that tell the opposite.
Yakov, Moscow, Russia

This is yet another band aid solution to the deeply rooted dysfunctional government.
Farah, McLean, VA

I can't imagine tighter visa control.
Jaime Layton, Edmonton, Canada

More intelligence will not solve our problems. If we in the US continue to use draconian tactics that force our culture and interests onto other peoples than we can look forward to who knows what some political fanatics will dream up next? The best way to make our country safer is to take the higher moral ground, cause we will reap what we sow and there is no way to guard against the effects of that basic tenet of man.
Tetsuyo, Los Angeles

when one has a failure of the proportions of 911, one has to accept that your credibility is gone
Patrick, Philadelphia, USA
The intelligence communities are balking at the changes. However, when one has a failure of the proportions of 911, one has to accept that your credibility is gone. There was tonnes of information out there that could have prevented this but infighting, inter-service rivalry and plain old incompetence ruled the day. Change is needed.
Patrick, Philadelphia, USA

Obviously the US did not understand that adding a new Intelligence agency will not reduce the threat. They should think about foreign policy instead. As long they will keep a one way relationship with non allies countries they will face a constant threat.
B Themens, Boucherville, Canada

These changes will not make a significant difference in the "war on terror". The roots of terror are the US government's military and political support for some of the most undemocratic and brutal regimes in the world. Until average Americans wake up to this truth and do something about it, I'm afraid that terror is going to be a reality in their lives.
Tom Hunsberger, Canadian in Mexico

The intelligence bill is an example of how politics wins out over security
Steve, Los Angeles, USA
The intelligence bill is an example of how politics wins out over security. The 9-11 terrorists were able to obtain over five dozen drivers licenses even though none were legal residents. The original version of the bill would have placed significant obstacles in the path of illegal resident obtaining drivers licenses and ability to avoid deportation. Now we have a bill that is designed to make people feel good. It changes the organizational flow chart. Forgive me if I do not jump up and down over it.
Steve, Los Angeles, USA

Whether or not this improves the effectiveness of US intelligence operations is unknown. If you have enough people willing to die for a cause eventually they will succeed. However, this is much more effective than the "understand the terrorist" mentality here. Stop victimizing these people. They are killers. They are the victimizers. The world needs to hunt them down along with any nation that supports their "cause". If your house has termites, do you try to understand the termite?
Mark, Boston, MA USA

The reforms are just more smoke and mirrors. Nothing will be done and nothing has been done. It should be fun to watch the finger pointing when the next attack occurs.
Jane, Harrisburg, USA

The government already can track every product we purchase, every place our cars go
Alicia Paul, Addison, TX USA
This can be easily abused and will ultimately give total control of U.S. citizens over to our government. The government already can track every product we purchase, every place our cars go, wherever our cell phones are when they place or receive calls, what printer a colour picture was printed from, and many more things. This will result in them being able to freeze the accounts of citizens or businesses, arrest innocent citizens on "suspicion of terror" whether it's true or not, prevent you from buying or selling without certain microchips in place, etc. My dad said it would be a cold day in hell before the people let this kind of control be given to the government. Too bad he's not here to see it. It must be a cold day in hell.
Alicia Paul, Addison, TX USA

Just as is the case with the 'war on drugs', the 'war on terror' tries to ameliorate the effect without addressing the cause. Intelligence, in any amount, ought to suggest that support of Middle Eastern dictators, be they Kings or Presidents, and unalloyed support of Israel does contribute to the cause.
Peter, Denver, CO

It is not so much a question of whether the US intelligence reforms will work, but rather more of a question of how much waste, duplication of resources, duplication of efforts and dysfunctional inter-agency rivalry, distrust and competition, can be eliminated.
John Holmes, Canada

I hope it will make America and the world a safer and more peaceful place
Brian Quinn, Pittsburgh, USA
I am in favour of an overhaul of the US intelligence system if it proves to be more effective in the long run. This being said, if the overhaul does improve intelligence gathering I hope it will make America and the world a safer and more peaceful place to live. That is asking a lot to come out of an intelligence shake-up, but this may be a small step in the right direction.
Brian Quinn, Pittsburgh, USA

Without a sea change in America's rhetoric and visible foreign policy actions, no amount of intelligence reform will quell the anti-American sentiment that grows around the world daily.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

With regards to the face to face interview for visas, all this will do is kill the US tourism industry. Do they really think people will go to that hassle when they can have a similar holiday in the Caribbean or Canada? I, for one, wouldn't even think about travelling to London or Belfast to be approved to go on holiday!
Stuart Innes, Glasgow, Scotland

I think it is highly debatable whether these changes will reduce terrorist attacks on US targets. What is conspicuously absent from Bush's agenda is getting at the root causes of terrorism and improving the image of the US with the rest of the world, both of which will surely have an impact on anti-US terrorism.
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

I don't think the new proposal will help. In fact, people will distrust each other even more as they know that they would be watched every minute by someone. By implementing this, it could cause more fear among people from all walks of life, and might possibly start a witch hunt against innocent people, especially minorities.
Chua Yunjia, Singapore

The proposed reforms may result in a much needed modernisation of the US intelligence community to meet modern threats
John, Shrewsbury, England
Intelligence will always be an essential, yet imperfect, feature of a state's national security. The proposed reforms may result in a much needed modernisation of the US intelligence community to meet modern threats, but can never provide 100% security. In another 20, 30, or 50 years there will be another surprise that will have everyone clamouring for intelligence reform. No one will be particularly at fault, it's just the nature of things.
John, Shrewsbury, England

As we saw with the Bush administration's selective use of intelligence in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, how intelligence is used is as important as how it's gathered. The big question is - to what degree will this agency be a puppet to the Bush agenda of control, both of America's own citizens and of other nations around the world.
Anna Hall, NYC

More bureaucracy isn't what this country needs as long as the president gets only information to support his ultimate goals. Dissenting voices appear to be drowned out in the administration so it doesn't appear any change in the structure of the intelligence community is going to make any difference. This administration is going to skew information to its advantage no matter who's in charge.
Jack, Pompano, FL

So, they think this will "Make America Safer". What are they doing to make Iraq and Afghanistan "safer" for those poor innocent people? This is just another excuse to clamp down on the civil liberties and freedom of their own people and create more Orwellian control.
Nikki, Cumbria, England

It's not the intelligence apparatus that failed. It was the "leadership" who took bits and pieces of information and moulded it to get the answer wanted. Hence, "weapons of mass destruction" and ignoring the terrorists.
Brian, Seattle, USA

Distrust in our government seems to be growing at a rapid pace
Melanie, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Any massive changes taking place in the federal government make me nervous after learning of the Patriot Act. Distrust in our government seems to be growing at a rapid pace and I don't believe it's entirely unfounded.
Melanie, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

The fact that we have 15 different spy agencies to begin with doesn't cast a flattering shadow on our government. The fact that all 15 of them are kind-of-but-not- not-exactly overseen and run by a single person doesn't make the situation any better.
John Saxton, Clarksburg, NJ

Terrorism is a political problem and has no military solution. We can't expect that waging a "war on terrorism" will rid the world of terrorism, because we are not up against a country even though some countries have been labelled as "the axis of evil". We have to go beyond all this name-calling and labelling and realise that America is not disliked throughout the world for reasons of "democracy" or "freedom", but rather that it is our ACTIONS and foreign policy that agitate others.
Farrah, Boston, USA

We can move to a George Orwell style Big Brother society and keep tabs and checks on everyone, wrap them in cotton wool and prevent them from doing anything. On the other hand, we can start to listen to the concerns of people who we describe as terrorists, and actually do something. Which is it to be?
Bilal Patel, London, UK

Seems this is more of a bureaucratic move
Brad K, USA
The US needs to become less dependent on high tech intelligence and get more human boots on the ground intelligence. Seems this is more of a bureaucratic move. You can shuffle the cards in the deck all you want, it still doesn't change what cards are in the deck.
Brad K, USA

I don't think sweeping intelligence reform is necessary to "find out why anti-Americanism is so rife throughout the world"; I think a few hours in the History section of your local library will suffice.
James E. Trainor III, Cedar Rapids, IA

Grey suits in offices running a spy network will never be an effective measure to reduce the threat. In the long run human error in intelligence and the growing threat against Americans will be too large and will become out of control. Efforts should be made to change American foreign policy to recruit more friends who will watch out for their interests and care for their safety. Their lifestyle and future is better protected by extending the arm of justice, peace and friendship to all nations
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan

They will have no affect on attacks. But that is not their intent; the intent is to watch the American people more closely.
Daniel, Kansas City, USA

Any action which pre-empts acts of terrorism is to be applauded. Whether the new US counter-terrorism centre will achieve it, only time will tell. More importantly is the issue to find out why anti-Americanism is so rife throughout the world, especially amongst the Islamic world.
Len Barrett-Coulson, Mandurah, WA Australia




SEE ALSO:
US set to overhaul intelligence
08 Dec 04 |  Americas


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