June 29, 2005

WHouse to accept most WMD report recommendations

By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has accepted 70 of74 recommendations from a presidential commission on weapons ofmass destruction, including creating a new counterproliferationcenter and lumping the FBI counterterrorism and intelligenceoperations into a new unit, sources briefed on Tuesday said.

The WMD commission issued a 600-page report on March 31that sharply criticized U.S. intelligence efforts on Iraq'sweapons of mass destruction as "dead wrong" and maderecommendations on how to improve intelligence collection andinformation sharing at the spy agencies.

The White House on Wednesday plans to make public theresults of a three-month review of the report, and issue anexecutive order aimed at targeting the assets of companiesbelieved to be helping North Korea, Iran and Syria acquiretechnology for use in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

The White House will accept 70 of the 74 commissionrecommendations, three will be studied further and one waschanged from the way it was recommended, the sources said oncondition of anonymity.

U.S. intelligence agencies have come under fire for faultyintelligence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and legislationwas enacted last year to overhaul the system, including thecreation of a director of national intelligence to oversee the15 spy agencies.

The report of The Commission on the IntelligenceCapabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of MassDestruction was the latest in a series of reviews of U.S.intelligence.

The White House will advocate keeping the CIA in charge ofhuman spying operations among the intelligence agencies. Italso supports the creation of a National Security Service atthe FBI to meld its counterterrorism and intelligencefunctions, the sources said.

The CIA has been sharply criticized for prewar judgmentsthat Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. None have beenfound. The Bush administration cited the threat from weapons ofmass destruction as a key justification for invading Iraq inMarch 2003.

The White House had no comment on the WMD report reviewconducted by Bush's homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend.

The WMD commission, led by Judge Laurence Silberman andformer Virginia Democratic Sen. Charles Robb, called for abroad overhaul in the intelligence community to increaseinformation sharing among the 15 agencies and foster dissentingviews.

It recommended that the president establish a NationalCounter Proliferation Center to coordinate intelligence onnuclear, biological and chemical weapons among the 15 spyagencies.

The commission echoed other post-Sept. 11 reviews andreports that said the intelligence agencies must improveinformation sharing with each other, and the panel called fortaking action to end the turf war between the FBI and CIA.