Part of the problem is that this bill is being rushed through in a reaction to circumstances like the Patriot Act was, and you’ve seen the results and unintended consequences of that. The consequences of a half-baked restructuring of American intelligence operations could be much worse.
But that’s nothing.
Because there’s an even bigger problem with the bill.
That problem is George W. Bush.
Because the White House has now stepped into the legislative process and wants to remove all Congressional oversight of the intelligence agencies:
The Senate bill passed with unanimous support from Republicans and with the votes of all but two Democrats. By contrast, the House bill was fashioned by the chamber’s Republican leadership and was approved over the objections of many Democrats.
Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.), a member of the conference committee, said the Senate’s chief negotiators [Republicans] had accepted a House demand stripping out all congressional oversight of the national intelligence director. Rockefeller said that he and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), another committee member, thought such oversight was essential to ensure the proper functioning of the intelligence community.
"All the oversight has been stripped out, and that is just unacceptable," said Rockefeller, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In a separate interview, Levin said that he, too, was concerned.
"There are still a lot of remaining issues," said Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "One of the most important parts of this bill is that we have provisions that ensure the independence and objectivity of intelligence."
The Senate bill, Levin said, strengthened oversight of intelligence activities. "The White House is opposed to congressional oversight and it might be watered down," Levin said, adding that such a revision would make it "very difficult for me" to support the bill.
[White House Intervenes on Behalf of Intelligence Bill LA Times 11/17/04 subscription] (Story links open in new windows)
That’s right, folks.
The White House wants the FBI, CIA, NSA and all the Defense Department intelligence operations to have no accountability.
Think about it.
No checks, no balances. These agencies would be responsible only to the president and the person he names as his security director .
Can you name a time and place in history where we’ve seen this before? [Hint: Blondie was the name of that leader’s dog, not Miss Beazley.]
Is that the America you want?
And especially you Republicans – is this the mandate you gave the president with your vote? Is it still "treasonous" not to support what he wants?
I hope not.
At the very least, contact your House representative – the Republican members of the House are the biggest culprits on this one, although the sneak by the Senate Republican negotiators in contravening the intent of the Senate bill is a close second.
Do it now.
This time, it really matters.
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