Opinions mixed on plan to appoint new 'terror czar'

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2004

First of all, let's stop calling it a czar.

Wrong country. Wrong connotation.

But let's do call the proposed new position a Cabinet member.

Probably the most important suggestion from the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's exhaustive and unanimously endorsed study of anti-terrorism efforts was that we need one person in charge of America's 15 intelligence-gathering agencies.

One person to coordinate the spy efforts of the CIA, the FBI and the Defense Department, which controls the majority of the intelligence budget. One woman or man who can sift through the mountains of information collected, make sure the various agencies are sharing and cooperating, and find the terrorist needles in the haystack before they find their targets. ...

He or she would be in charge of the CIA, the FBI and various other agencies or at least the intelligence aspects of their budgets. That person would have budgetary control, the ability to hire and fire certain directors. In other words, the juice to get things done. ...

What good is a national intelligence director who doesn't have the power to make turf-guarding bureaucrats work together? Isn't that what we already had with Richard Clarke?

President Bush should open up his Cabinet, rearrange some of the canned goods, and make room for an intel chief.

York (Pa.) Daily Record

Aug. 8

Election-year politics are fueling plans to install a new terror czar to oversee the nation's intelligence operations. But the hasty efforts to overhaul the way intelligence agencies confront terrorism may produce results the nation comes to regret. ...

We think that, contrary to the call for immediate action, the nation should take some time to critically review the commission's proposals and consider which would actually improve our ability to counter the terrorist threat. And while the commission report outlines glaring failures on the part of our intelligence agencies, we aren't convinced that a complete overhaul and a new bureaucracy are the answer. ...

We do not mean to belittle the importance of dealing with the threat of terrorism or the work of the 9/11 commission. In fact, we think Congress should empower the commission to remain intact and continue working in an advisory capacity as reforms are debated. ...

We fear that a wholesale intelligence shake-up conducted in the heat of a presidential campaign could do more harm than good.

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.

Aug. 6

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