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House, Senate diverge on 9/11 response

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"I don't usually agree with Henry Kissinger on anything, but Congress is rushing this because they want to do something," says Melvin Goodman, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a former CIA and State Department analyst.

"The two leading recommendations of the commission are very harmful," he adds. "The call to put an intelligence czar inside the executive branch shows they don't understand the politicization of intelligence. And centralizing analysis of intelligence shows they don't recognize the importance of redundancy."

The shakeups outlined in both the House and Senate versions are broad, ranging from a new director of national intelligence to new mandates for setting priorities in security spending. In a major departure from current practice, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are backing the commission's recommendation to make risk - not population or size - the basis for security decisions.

"Throughout the government, nothing has been harder for officials ... than to set priorities," the commission concluded. "Homeland security assistance should be based strictly on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities." That means more money for Washington and New York, less for states like Wyoming: "Congress should not use this money as a pork barrel."

Another key issue is the authority a new national intelligence director (NID) will have over budget and personnel decisions, most of which are now made in the Pentagon. The Defense Department currently controls 80 percent of intelligence spending. In the Senate, a turf battle is shaping up between the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, tasked with preparing legislation for the Senate floor, and the Armed Services Committee, which defends Pentagon prerogatives. The House version, and that proposed by the White House, assigns the NID less control over these issues than do either the 9/11 commission or the Senate.

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