9/11 Report: Bi-Partisanship at its Worst?

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There are organizations focusing on intense criticism of the 9/11 Report's process and conclusions. The greatest of these criticisms implies that a bi-partisan (Democrats and Republicans) commission, set as a ground rule, to exempt both Pres.' Clinton and Bush from criticism, blame or responsibility. Given that the President is the Commander in Chief of our military and intel agencies, the Commission has built a protective wall around their respective presidents in this election year. On the opposite side of the debate, praise is being heaped upon the Commission for not delving into partisan criticism and debate over who is responsible for not preventing the 9/11 atrocities from occurring. There is merit to the argument that placing blame anywhere else but on the intel community, would do little to strengthen our nation against future attacks.

Preventing future leadership failures however are lost upon this Commission. One possible outcome of the Commission's Report is a single head of all the intelligence agencies for the purpose of coordination. This intel head would be answerable to the president. Does anyone besides myself see the potential for huge and horrible abuse of power by centralizing domestic and foreign intelligence under one person directly under the President? If the intel head does NOT have the authority or power to fire personnel or otherwise coerce or shape intel results coming up from the community, then I would sleep a bit easier regardless of who is President. But, to grant the intel head the power to shape or coerce via group think or direct manipulation of intelligence is a very, very dangerous proposition.

The power of cover-up, non-congressionally authorized clandestine military missions, complete separation of the President from his decisions based on intelligence in future probes for responsibility, and the potential for violations of our Bill of Rights by the office of the President and the Intelligence communities become very plausible if the new head of the Intel agencies is given the power to selectively filter intel, coerce the reshaping of intel reports, and bury intel reports through his power to fire intel personnel, influence intel agency budgets and funding, and his power to insulate the office of the president from its decisions by becoming the filter through which the President is informed.

Many on the Hill want Congress to come back in special session to hurry up the implementation of the Commission's recommendations. But, with regard to establishing the purview, authorities, and power of the Head of Intelligence, I say, do not rush. The potential consequences of not designing this office carefully which could centralize the most awesome power of the U.S. government into the hands of two persons, the President and the new Head of Intelligence, is unimaginable. Add to it the fact that such power could at the same time insulate the President from any abuses of use of that power, and one has a mandate to openly debate in Congress and thoroughly examine for weaknesses in accountability and responsibility, the parameters of such a newly created position. Safeguards against such abuses should be thought out carefully and implemented before such awesome concentration of power is bestowed.

Democratic lawmaker Sheila Jackson Lee seems to be recognizing this need when she "added that an immediate challenge for members of Congress will be to take a more active role in matters of intelligence and national security."

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on July 24, 2004 3:33 PM.

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