WASHINGTON -- The House unanimously passed an intelligence bill Wednesday that will place new emphasis on traditional human spy networks that have served as a key to the war on terrorism.
"The events of Sept. 11 are a sad reminder of what happens when we let our intelligence guard down," said Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., a former CIA officer who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "Intelligence is our first line of defense and it must be treated as such, particularly in this war against terrorism."
The bill would increase spending by 8 percent -- higher than the 7 percent President Bush sought. Besides focusing new attention and funding on human spies, it aims to increase the portion of collected data that gets analyzed and turned into useful information.
The voice vote was on final passage of a conference bill worked out by House and Senate negotiators. The Senate still must pass the compromise bill before it can be sent to President Bush for his signature.
It comes as the intelligence community is getting a lot of good attention for its work in assisting the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan.
Goss said none of the progress in that war seen in TV reports and at Pentagon briefings would have been possible without intelligence.
noting that the first combat casualty was an intelligence officer, Johnny Micheal Spann.
"The fact that the first casualty was a CIA officer speaks to the fact that intelligence is in fact in the lead in this war," he said. "There is no argument about that."