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Friday, December 01, 2006

Democrats to Avoid Key 9/11 Commission Recommendation on Intelligence Oversight

Democratic congressional leaders will not implement a major recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, backtracking on a common campaign pledge of last month’s elections, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, Nov. 13).

The bipartisan commission, formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, urged Congress to reorganize the intelligence oversight and funding roles of its committees. As only intelligence committees are granted access to classified information, they should also have the authority to control the budgets of U.S. intelligence agencies, the commission argued.

“Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important,” the commission wrote in its report. “So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need.”

Many Democratic leaders vowed to implement the commission’s recommendations in full if they were to win control of the U.S. House and Senate. However, now that they are about to assume the leadership, traditional turf politics has intervened, the Post reported. Incoming heads of the Armed Services and Appropriations panels do not want to surrender control of such key budget areas.

“I don’t think that suggestion is going anywhere,” said Representative Bill Young (R-Fla.), currently chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

“That is not going to be their party position,” added Young, an ally of incoming chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.).

The reluctance to make the change drew fire from some commission members.

“The Democrats pledged to implement all the remaining 9/11 reforms, not some of them,” said former representative Timothy Roemer (D-Ind.).

There are “a lot of old bulls in both parties who just don’t want to do it,” said commission Chairman Thomas Kean (Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, Nov. 30).
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