Bush talks of counterterrorism center plans
Radio address: A 'central knowledge bank' on suspects
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Touting measures to improve national security, President Bush said Saturday that government efforts to make America safe against terrorism have worked, but more actions are needed to reform the U.S. intelligence service and track terrorists.
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.
"The center will become our government's central knowledge bank for information about known and suspected terrorists and will help ensure effective joint action across the government, so that our efforts against terrorists are unified in priority and purpose," the president said.
Center personnel will also prepare the daily terrorism threat report that comes to the president and to senior government officials.
"Third, we're making sure that all our agencies of our government share vital threat information," Bush said.
To that end, Bush has asked the CIA director to make sure common standards and clear measures of accountability are in place for intelligence-sharing across government agencies.
He has established the Information Systems Council to make sure barriers to information sharing between intelligence agencies, law enforcement and state and local governments are removed.
"To continue to protect the freedoms and privacy of our citizens, I've established a civil liberties board to monitor the information sharing practices," Bush said.
The combined efforts are "essential to America's security," according to Bush, and will begin to answer concerns expressed by the 9/11 commission.
"America faces a great threat, and our government is doing everything in its power to confront and defeat that terror," said Bush.
"We have made great progress against the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. We have made great progress in protecting our home land.
"In all that lies ahead, America will stay focused and determined, and we will prevail," he said.