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Homeland sec before 911 { January 31 2001 }

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Panel recommends sweeping national security changes

January 31, 2001
Web posted at: 11:28 a.m. EST (1628 GMT)

From National Security Correspondent David Ensor


One of the panel's main recommendations is for President Bush to create
a new Cabinet-level National Homeland Security Agency to handle prevention,
response and recovery to terrorist incidents.

The bipartisan U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century is
headed by former Sens. Warren Rudman, R-New Hampshire, and Gary Hart,
D-Colorado, and includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia,
among its members. The report was commissioned several years ago
by the Defense Department.

The proposed agency would take over the Border Patrol from Justice, Customs
from Treasury, the Coast Guard from Transportation, the FBI counterterrorism
center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), among others.

While the commission does have strong backing, many of its recommendations
are likely to face stiff opposition due to the magnitude of some of the changes.

On another front, the report argues that the National Security Council at the
White House has too much power and should be strictly limited to giving the
president advice on policy.

"Ever since (former Secretary of State Henry) Kissinger, it has become more and
more operational," said one commission member, "because they don't have any
congressional oversight to speak of so they can do whatever the president wants
them to do -- a la Oliver North."

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