President to Implement Some 9/11 Recommendations

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President Bush announced in a press conference today that he would ask Congress to act (but not in a special session and therefore, not right away) on implementing some of the key proposals in the 9/11 Commission Report. Regardless of his reasons (some will say it was due to Kerry taking the demand to the public), it is commendable that the President appears to be en route to enacting the Report's recommendations to help safeguard Americans against another terrorist attack. However, the President has not outlined any checks and balances on the most awesome power in the world, that of the American Intelligence community and the American Military resting in the hands of the President and his appointed head coordinator of our intelligence agencies.

The President would do well to heed a caution announced on July 24 in a piece entitled 9/11 Report: Bi-Partisanship at its Worst? The potential for political use and cover-up by the executive, regardless of whom holds the office, is immense with the President's proposal to date. The President stated the new head of intelligence will be appointed by the President and be answerable to the President. This arrangement appears to ignore the entire section of the 9/11 Report regarding the very negative effects of "Group Think" instrumental in the intelligence failures prior to 9/11.

If you are hired as the head of intelligence and you report to the President, and the President has an agenda and your intelligence reports run counter to the President's agenda, do you modify, filter, or otherwise massage the intelligence to fit the agenda? Or, do you risk being asked to resign? This is not to say that the President will not contemplate such issues, he may. But as of today, there is no evidence that such considerations are being taken into account. In the absence of such considerations, in the future, this implementation could easily be viewed in hindsight, as a further concentration of executive power in the oval office to implement foreign policy unencumbered and covertly. By covertly, I mean without Congressional review.

Further, if the head of intelligence is to have budgetary control over the various agencies, how easy will it be to use that budgetary power to reward those agencies that produce the desired intelligence, suppress the undesirable intelligence, and thus enhance group think which was reported as so instrumental in intelligence failures prior to 9/11? It is premature to come to any judgments about the content of the President's announcement today. And it remains to be seen what if any debate will take place in the Congress and before the American people before its implementation.

I cautioned in my previous article that we not rush so fast into implementation that we do not carefully consider the need for checks and balances on such concentration of immense power into the hands of two persons. I am pleased that the President has not called for a special session of Congress to rush this implementation. Giving time to Congress until their return to regular session affords the Senators and Representatives time to consider the matter a bit before passing such legislation. For the President's quick response to the Report, and for his willingness not to ram such implementation through at this moment in time, is in my opinion deserving of respect and Kudos, with the caution outlined above.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on August 2, 2004 7:29 PM.

Poll Analysis: Bush still losing ground. was the previous entry in this blog.

Terror Alert: What it really means! is the next entry in this blog.

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