WASHINGTON – The largest intelligence operations, including the National Security Agency, CIA and FBI, will be excluded from the proposed domestic security department, the president's chief of staff said Sunday.
The FBI was left out in part because President Bush did not want the new Cabinet-level agency to resemble an "old Soviet-era" creation, Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The FBI is primarily involved in law enforcement, he pointed out, which would not be a responsibility of the proposed Department of Homeland Security.
The department would provide another place "where people can look at the dots to see how they might be connected," Card said on Fox News Sunday. He said it would receive intelligence from the Coast Guard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Rather than gather intelligence about potential terrorist attacks, the department would serve as a clearinghouse, analyzing information from the FBI and the CIA, Card said.
"The FBI does more than worry about terrorist attacks," Card said on ABC's This Week. "And besides, we did not want to create a homeland security department that would look like the old Soviet-era ... ministry of the interior. This is a homeland security department that will secure the homeland."
The government would have had a better chance of putting terrorism intelligence together before Sept. 11 had the new agency been in place, Card said.
Bush has said the new department would not increase the cost of government. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, however, said on CBS' Face the Nation that it may cost more initially, but not over the long term.
Ridge also disclosed that Bush's plan was known only to a handful of White House officials before Bush briefed Cabinet members on it last week.
Those unaware of its details until then included Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, he said.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he thinks the new department should be complemented by a counterterrorism adviser in the White House who would report directly to the president.
Bush has not indicated who would head the new department. Lieberman said Congress, hoping to pass legislation creating the department by Sept. 11, presumes Ridge would be its secretary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.