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House adopts 9/11 Commission recommendations
Bill creates position of national intelligence director while drastically increasing funding for cargo screening and port and border security
Dec 8, 2004 -
The House of Representatives adopted comprehensive legislation Tuesday that will substantially overhaul the nation’s intelligence communities while adding to the many reforms that have already been implemented since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, which passed the House by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority Tuesday afternoon, creates a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to serve as the head of the Intelligence Community, serve as principle adviser to the President, and oversee and direct the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and establishes a National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) to achieve seamless coordination across departmental lines against interdisciplinary problems epitomized by terrorism. The NCTC will be the primary Executive Branch organization for counterterrorism intelligence and strategic operational planning.
“The American people called for action and the decisive steps taken by Congress to address these concerns will ultimately lead to a safer and more secure United States for us all,” Rep. Jim Gerlach said. “After many hearings and an open, bipartisan debate the 9/11 Commission made thoughtful recommendations and suggestions for improving the safety net protecting the American people. And I believe that this legislation – coupled with the reforms we’ve already implemented – is a good, common sense solution to those recommendations.”
Additionally, the legislation improves the nation’s security by doing the following:
• Doubles the current number of border patrol officers to 10,000 over the next 5 years;
• Authorizes federal officials to target and track “lone wolf” terrorists who act individually and free of any terrorist organization;
• Increases the difficulty for terrorists to secure financing and improves the tools available to law enforcement to investigate and prosecute money laundering;
• Makes it a crime for an individual to intentionally pull a terrorist hoax or fake the death of a U.S. soldier. Such acts siphon off valuable resources, manpower and equipment away from those trying to respond to real threats;
• Adds a new crime for knowingly receiving military training from a foreign terrorist organization and enables the U.S. to deport any alien who has received such training;
• Requires all drivers’ licenses and birth certificates to bear a set of standard characteristics thereby making it more difficult for terrorists to falsify identification to gain admission and remain in the country to plan and plot terrorist acts;
• Requires all U.S. citizens returning from the Western Hemisphere to present a valid U.S. passport except for those citizens who reside in a border state;
• Prevents potential terrorists from blocking their deportation by citing countries of origin that lack functioning governments;
• Provides the Department of Homeland Security the tools necessary to remove aliens by making visa revocation grounds for removal;
• Expands the definition of “material support” to terrorists to include any act of international or domestic terrorism carried out with the knowledge that the organization is/was a terrorist organization;
• Provides 40,000 new detention beds to prevent potential terrorists from being released onto the streets.
“I’m glad that this important legislation finally passed the House, and I look forward to joining my colleagues during the 109th Congress as we continue to seek ways to protect our nation from terrorists,” Rep. Gerlach said.
The bill passed the House by a 336 to 75 vote margin. The President has expressed support for the bill and said he would sign the legislation once it passes the Senate, a vote that’s expected to happen Wednesday.