President Bush yesterday signed the largest overhaul of U.S. intelligence-gathering in more than five decades, aiming to transform a system designed for Cold War threats so it...

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WASHINGTON — President Bush yesterday signed the largest overhaul of U.S. intelligence-gathering in more than five decades, aiming to transform a system designed for Cold War threats so it can deal effectively with the post-Sept. 11 scourge of terrorism.

“Instead of massed armies, we face stateless networks. We face killers who hide in our own cities,” Bush said in a somber ceremony. “To inflict great harm on our country, America’s enemies need to be only right once. Our intelligence and law-enforcement professionals in our government must be right every single time.”

The law creates a national intelligence center and a powerful position of national intelligence director to oversee the nation’s 15 separate intelligence agencies.

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The next step for Bush is to choose someone to fill the new post of director of national intelligence. Potential candidates include CIA Director Porter Goss; Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, head of the National Security Agency; Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and White House homeland-security adviser Fran Townsend.