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02 April 2005

Bush Discusses Intelligence Report in Radio Address

President says U.S. intelligence community needs "fundamental change"

President Bush discussed the recent report on U.S. intelligence capabilities in his weekly radio address April 2, saying that he shared the conclusion of the commission that “America’s intelligence community needs fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st Century.”

The president noted that his administration has already taken steps consistent with the commission’s recommendations and “will continue to make intelligence reforms that will allow them to identify threats before they fully emerge.”

The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction released a long-awaited report March 31 that was highly critical of the U.S. intelligence community and its failures regarding Iraq and its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. (See related article.)

Bush prefaced his radio address by calling the ailing Pope John Paul II “an inspiration to us all.” The president added that he and first lady Laura Bush, like so many around the world, were “praying for the Holy Father. “

To listen to the president’s address, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050326.a.ram

Following is the full text of the president’s radio address:

(begin text)

Office of the Press Secretary
Saturday, April 2, 2005


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Before I begin today, I would like to say a word about Pope John Paul II. His Holiness is a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom. He is an inspiration to us all. Laura and I join millions of Americans and so many around the world who are praying for the Holy Father.

This week, the members of the independent commission looking into America's intelligence capabilities presented their report. I asked these men and women to give an unvarnished look at our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, and they have delivered. I appreciate their hard work. Their recommendations are thoughtful and extremely significant, and their central conclusion is one that I share: America's intelligence community needs fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century.

My administration has already taken steps consistent with the commission's recommendations. In February, I nominated John Negroponte to be our first Director of National Intelligence. This post was created to help ensure that our intelligence community works as a single, unified enterprise. When members of Congress return to Washington, I urge them to move quickly on his confirmation because he will have a key role in the continued reform and restructuring of our intelligence capabilities.

This week, I also directed Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend to oversee the interagency review of the commission's findings and ensure that concrete action is taken.

The commission's report delivers a sharp critique of the way intelligence has been collected and analyzed against some of the most difficult intelligence targets, like Iraq. To win the war on terror, we will correct what needs to be fixed, and build on what the commission calls, solid intelligence successes. These include the uncovering of Libya's nuclear and missile programs, which led Libya's leader to renounce weapons of mass destruction. In Pakistan, our intelligence helped expose and shut down the world's most dangerous nuclear proliferation network. We need to learn from the successes we've had, and apply the lessons elsewhere.

We also acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices of the men and women in our intelligence community. These talented people are on the front lines in the war on terror. Their work is critical. We must prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass murder that they would use against our people.

The work our intelligence community is doing is also extremely difficult. Every day, dangerous regimes are working to conceal their programs and their possible relationships with terrorists. And the work our intelligence men and women do is, by nature, secret. The American people never hear about many of America's intelligence successes, but I'm aware of them. I'm proud of our efforts of our intelligence workers to defend our country, and the American people should be, as well.

The President and his national security team must have intelligence that is timely and accurate. In its report, the commission points out that America needs to know much more about the weapons programs and intentions of our most dangerous adversaries. The members of the commission have given useful and important guidance that will help transform our intelligence capabilities for the needs of a dangerous new century, and we will continue to give our intelligence professionals the tools they need and the structure they deserve so they can succeed in their essential work.

It is not possible to guarantee perfect security in our vast free nation, but at a time when we're at war and our margin for error is getting smaller, the consequences of underestimating a threat could be tens of thousands of innocent lives. I can assure you that the men and women in our intelligence community are working around the clock and doing everything they can to keep us safe, and my administration will continue to make intelligence reforms that will allow them to identify threats before they fully emerge so we can take action to protect the American people.

Thank you for listening.


(end text)