- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

President Bush's proposed Department of Homeland Security came under fire from a top Republican senator yesterday as an inadequate response to intelligence failures.
Also, two leading Democratic senators warned of changes in the department's organization, with one calling for a separate office of counterterrorism coordinator in the White House and also floating the idea of adding the FBI and CIA to the Department of Homeland Security.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the president's proposal "does not address the intelligence problems we have," which are under investigation by a joint congressional panel.
"Congress has to look at this closely," Mr. Shelby said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "As this investigation unfolds, you are going to see more and more problems in the intelligence community.
"We're going to need the help of the administration to change a lot of things structurally and otherwise in these huge bureaucracies [such as FBI and CIA] that I believe are not agile and do not, on all occasions, serve us well," he added.
The latest terrorism warning came yesterday as a Coast Guard spokesman in Washington confirmed that it had told its units during the weekend to be on the lookout for terrorists targeting the nation's waterways.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said he hopes Congress will authorize creation of the new department in the form outlined by Mr. Bush before year's end.
"We hope [so]. It's clearly imperative that, for the safety of the American people, we get this department up and running as soon as possible. We've given the Congress the right solution [for] improving homeland security," he told "Fox News Sunday."
But Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said he believes the fate of Mr. Bush's proposal in Congress depends on the White House's willingness to accept changes.
"I think the test of this major reorganization is yet to come," he said on "Face the Nation." "If the administration takes a stonewall position, and every word in their plan is biblical, and if you change it, you are unpatriotic, I think this will be a very serious error."
In a televised speech Thursday night, Mr. Bush announced he will seek congressional approval of a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, with the job of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks.
The department would inherit most of its 170,000 employees and a budget of $37 billion from other agencies it would absorb, including the Secret Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs Service. It would not include the three largest intelligence operations: the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll yesterday showed wide public support for Mr. Bush's proposed department.
According to the survey taken Friday and Saturday, 72 percent approved, 20 percent disapproved and 8 percent had no opinion.
In the same survey, three-quarters of respondents said the new department will be either very effective (20 percent) or somewhat effective (55 percent) in stopping terrorist attacks. The poll was based on telephone interviews with 800 adults and had a margin of error of four percentage points.
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said the president's proposal is hampered by its lack of provisions to ensure a sharing of information between the FBI and CIA.
"We spoke about this a little bit at our meeting with the president on Friday morning at the White House," said the Connecticut Democrat, who is sponsoring his own bill to establish a homeland security department, which also would establish an office of counterterrorism coordinator.
"I think we still need an office within the White House with the statutory and some budgetary authority to coordinate these operations. Because what most infuriates and aggravates us and breaks our hearts now about what we learned about what happened before September 11 is the absolute failure of the intelligence community to share information with the law-enforcement community and vice versa.
"If that had happened, I still think we had a chance to prevent September 11," Mr. Lieberman said.
He said the White House told him Friday morning that "the administration and the Homeland Security Department has created a kind of clearinghouse where intelligence and FBI and other law enforcement will feed information in, so you won't have these gaps."
Mr. Lieberman called that move a "good step," but added that "we need something stronger."
"I think the best thing we can do is to force the foreign intelligence agencies, including the CIA, and now the domestic intelligence agency, the FBI, and local and state police enforcers to work together through that White House office" of counterterrorism coordinator, the Connecticut Democrat said.
Mr. Lieberman went on to say he believes the idea of folding the FBI and/or the CIA into the new Department of Homeland Security should be "kept on the table," though "that's not something I would do this year."
But Mr. Card, in an interview on ABC's "This Week," said the "FBI should not have been included in the department."
One reason, he said, is that "we didn't want to create a homeland security department that would look like the old Soviet-era Ministry of the Interior." A second reason, he said, is "that this is a homeland security department it's not designed to be a law-enforcement agency."
"The FBI does more than worry about terrorist attacks," Mr. Card said.
While many in Congress have been skeptical of the administration's claims that the new department will not require additional funding, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that it "ought to be budget-neutral."
There will "clearly be some initial transition costs," he said, "but I think they will be held to a minimum."
Mr. Ridge said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that decisions on where to base the agency will be made in the next few weeks, but he noted that most of the agency's work will be done outside Washington.
"Out of 170,000 men and women who will be part of this agency, about 17,000 of them are in Washington," Mr. Ridge said. "You'll see a significant piece of that agency in Washington. But more significantly, since it has to deal with protecting our borders and working with state and local officials, most of it will remain outside D.C."
Mr. Ridge deflected a question from interviewer Tim Russert on whether he would want to lead the new department.
"As a confidential adviser to the president of the United States, I'm not sure I'll be able to share those communications with you," he said.


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