Intelligence Reform Expected

08-02-04 - WHITE HOUSE (AP) - The White House says President Bush has decided to back the Nine Eleven Commission's call for a new intelligence czar. A Rose Garden announcement is scheduled for later Monday morning.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the new director of national intelligence will "have the authority he needs" to coordinate Washington's 15 spy agencies and better wage the war on terror.

However, officials say Bush differs from the commission on one point. He thinks the director and a new counter-terrorism center should be outside the White House hierarchy. One official said placing them inside the Executive Office of the President could undermine the intelligence community's traditional autonomy.

The planned announcement comes as homeland security officials ramp up defenses amid intelligence suggesting a new al-Qaida plot to cripple America's financial institutions.

McClellan says Bush got a briefing on the intelligence Monday and on the counter measures being taken.