U.S. President George W. Bush rewrote Thursday the guidelines defining the authority of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as the leader of the nation's 16 spy agencies.
The changes were part of a long-awaited overhaul of the president's Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era document that establishes the powers and responsibilities of U.S. intelligence services, the White House said.
Most of the revisions were aimed at underscoring the predominant role of the DNI, the office created by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The revamped order specifically places the DNI in charge of setting priorities for the 16 spy agencies as well as issuing guidelines on how intelligence is collected, analyzed and shared --including foreign intelligence, traditionally the domain of the Central Intelligence Agency.
It also gives the DNI a greater voice in the hiring and firing of senior intelligence officials.
Left essentially unchanged is a prohibition against assassinations of foreign leaders, as well as long-standing restrictions on human experimentation, the document states.
It asserts that the intelligence agencies would "maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberty protections."
The original Executive Order 12333, which was signed by President Ronald Regan in 1981, has been revised numerous times, but the new changes are the most sweeping in more than a decade.