Friday, December 03, 2004

The Intelligence Battle

It had looked like the Intelligence bill was going to die a slow painful death. The president's luke warm support, to appease opposition in the House's majority caucus, is being forced by heavy lobbying from members of the 9/11 commission and public concerns.

It is unusual to see the GOP fighting amongst themselves on any issues, let alone one that is evolving into the first test of the President's ability to shape policy.

Reservations are many, the least of which is the reluctance of the various defense agencie’s intelligence ops to be under a newly created Intel Czar. This article explains:
As much as 80 percent of the annual intelligence budget goes to military intelligence. The proposed overhaul would put all 15 government intelligence agencies, including the CIA and military intelligence units, under the new national intelligence director. The legislation also would create a national counterterrorism center to coordinate the government's response to global terrorism.
Bush is pretty clear on where he stands, as he stated in Ottawa this week;
"Let's see if I can say it as plainly as I can. I am for the intelligence bill"
The bill received almost unanimous support in the Senate, 96-2, but remains stalled in the house. Why? A couple of GOP committee chairmen claiming to be looking out for 'us'
(Rep. Duncan ) Hunter (R-CA), reflecting concerns at the Defense Department as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, doesn't want to dilute the Pentagon's control over military intelligence. He's vowed to stand up to presidential pressure, saying he's more concerned about doing the right thing for people such as his son, a Marine lieutenant who's served two tours in Iraq.

(Rep. James ) Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wants the bill to include immigration restrictions and border-security measures.
The bickering is beginning to escalate
"That's the arrogance of the House at the moment," said Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, a Republican moderate who opposes a confrontational strategy. "To me, it's showing incredible lack of leadership on the part of my leadership and the president. ... What we're saying to the Democrats in the House is that they have to do it our way or no way. How are we going to pass tax reform and Social Security reform? ... We have to start building some bridges."
The President has put himself in a precarious situation before his second term even begins. On one hand, if he pushed too hard for passage, he may have to spend some of his 'political capital' that he would rather save for tougher battles ahead, if the bill fails, many may call it a failure in leadership for his inability to 'unite' his own party in protecting our homeland and it's borders.

Either way, it is a lot more intriguing watching them battle for power amongst themselves, then joining forces against the Left.


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