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December 07, 2004

Intelligent Reform: Oxymoronic?

Brendan Miniter on the intelligence bill compromise:

There have been many interesting twists and turns as this bill wound its way to this compromise. Not least was the spectacle over the weekend of Democrats--who only weeks ago were claiming that George W. Bush had no popular mandate--rushing to invoke the president's name and cash in on his political capital to get the intelligence bill passed. In the process they tried to strip out the very provisions the White House wrote into the bill. But to understand what happened here and what near calamity it was, consider one of the final sticking points: protecting the chain of command. In the end, Ms. Collins was fighting to insert the intelligence czar somewhere between the president and secretary of defense and his combat commanders in the field. And if not for Mr. Hunter, she might have succeeded.
It's true that Mr. Hunter was instrumental in holding up this legislation. But it is not true that he was a lone wolf. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a letter supporting the House bill. The top officers of each of the four main military branches--Gen. John Jumper, Gen. Michael Hagee, Gen. Peter Schoomaker and Adm. Vern Clark--also stressed the importance of protecting the chain of command in sworn testimony to Congress last month.
What's more, the chain-of-command provision on which Mr. Hunter stood firm actually came from the White House. House members along with administration officials were concerned that the intelligence reforms would sow confusion over who controlled intelligence assets--such as satellites--at key moments in a crisis. Depriving combat commanders in, say, Fallujah access to real-time intelligence could prove disastrous. Further, the Senate wanted to give the intelligence czar "operational authority" over covert missions and the power to move money and personnel around. That could lead to a situation in which military personnel were being pulled out and used without the knowledge of the secretary of defense.
To overcome these problems, earlier this year House members sat down with Condoleezza Rice's deputy (now soon to be national security adviser), Stephen Hadley, and another administration official to hammer out compromise language. The clause they came up with stated that nothing in the bill could be "construed" to interrupt the military chain of command. In October Ms. Rice publicly endorsed that provision. Yet it was that clause that became a major sticking point in House-Senate negotiations. And it was Ms. Collins's acceptance of that clause (reworded) that finally allowed a deal to be struck.

The 911 commission "do something now" hysteria is arguably almost as serious a threat to our national security as our previous state of blissful unconsciousness. Sweeping changes made in haste make us even more vulnerable to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

And of course, all the intelligence reforms in the world will be useless if the White House isn't listening...


Posted by Cassandra at December 7, 2004 08:52 AM

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Comments

I think the use of the word "intelligence" is offensive and discriminatory to stupid people. I think this legislation should be called the bill to reform "Barely Capable of Functioning."

Posted by: Hummer at December 7, 2004 10:19 AM

Like incest, intelligence is always relative.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 7, 2004 10:20 AM

History doens't always repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.

Click on my name for a link to congressional hearings into "THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR".

Numerous hearings, etc.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 7, 2004 12:09 PM

Ha ! I found you, cassandra, just me lurking and stalking!

Posted by: KEG at December 7, 2004 02:03 PM

Mucal invader, is there no end to your oozing?!

Posted by: The Tick at December 7, 2004 05:30 PM

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