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June 13, 2005

Statement of Families of September 11 on the
9/11 Public Discourse Project's Series "Unfinished Agenda"
Session 2: Challenges Facing the DNI
June 13, 2005

Families of September 11 (FOS11) is encouraged to hear a discussion regarding the current challenges facing the Director of National Intelligence, held by the 9/11 Public Discourse Project. After the passage of the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, which created the new position of the DNI, we waited to hear who President Bush would nominate to this very important new position. We have since been relying on Director Negroponte to take the reins of his new position to embrace the full authorities vested in him to re-organize the intelligence community to make it more effective.

With only 7 weeks on the job, it is too early to judge how well Director Negroponte is doing. However, it does appear that there remain those who would like to see him fail, in an effort to protect turf and avoid change. In the last few weeks, we were disappointed to have seen multiple amendments proposed by House leadership that would limit the power of the DNI, less than two months after he was confirmed by the Senate. This type of behavior is dangerous for the safety of the American people. Without the full authorities granted to him in the Intelligence Reform Act, the DNI cannot do his job. If he cannot do his job, the same problems that led to walls, gaps, and failures in our intelligence community will remain.

John Negroponte has the opportunity to revolutionize our intelligence community and make it more effective. He was granted the power to shift personnel and money as he saw fit, taking a system-wide accounting of all 15 intelligence agencies. He must continue to have these authorities, and must start exercising them immediately.