Jim Kouri
Lawmakers oppose 'flawed' intelligence bill
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By Jim Kouri
February 28, 2010

Republican lawmakers, including the top GOP congressman on the House Intelligence Committee, openly opposed what they characterized as "the the flawed, extraordinarily delayed" Fiscal Year 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill. Their opposition stems from the fact that the legislation was not updated to address the two terrorist attacks on the homeland that occurred since it was passed by the committee eight months ago.

The Republicans also forced Democrats to pull their flawed annual intelligence bill over language Democrats inserted that targeted CIA and intelligence community officers by creating a new criminal offense that would apply only to them. The provision was inserted into the bill late Wednesday night, without any consideration by the House Intelligence Committee or consultation with Republicans or the intelligence agencies it would negatively impact.

U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said, "After an eight month delay voting on this intelligence bill, Democrats have refused to update it to reflect the flaws exposed by the Obama administration's mishandling of the Detroit and Fort Hood terrorist attacks."

Hoekstra said, "Instead Democrats tried to update it to target the CIA and intelligence community before beating a hasty retreat in the face of Republican and public opposition. Now on their latest attempt to pass the bill, the same Democrats who pursued the CIA over enhanced interrogations are refusing to hold Congress accountable for its bipartisan role in approving those techniques.

"This is a transparency and accountability moment for Congress, but now that the lights are on, Democrats are nowhere to be found. They are willing to investigate everyone but themselves. Congressional Republicans are willing to be held accountable and stand where we stood — with the intelligence community to help protect America," he added.

House Republicans offered a motion to the bill that asked the CIA Inspector General to conduct an independent review of whether any member of Congress — including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — objected to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, to review the steps that were taken, and to require release of interrogation briefing memos.

The Republican motion also would clarify that the Director of National Intelligence should be in charge of coordinating the interrogation of terrorists and ensure that all actionable intelligence has been collected before a terrorist is given his or her Miranda warnings.

"Our first priority has to be the collection of intelligence when we capture terrorists and enemy combatants," Hoekstra said. "Offering a terrorist the right to remain silent and get a lawyer would seem like the last thing we would want to do. Intelligence is a perishable asset, and while a captured terrorist lawyers up, our forces on the front lines, our allies and our nation will be put at greater risk."

Republican lawmakers have raised a number of substantive questions and issues with the Obama administration's confused and conflicted handling of the attacks, including the flawed decision to Mirandize Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The decision delayed for several weeks the collection of vital intelligence on the al-Qaeda threat emanating from Yemen, and resulted in the Obama administration being forced to cut a deal with a terrorist who attempted to kill more than 300 innocent civilians in order to get information.

Hoekstra went on to say that taken as a whole, the bill has a number of deficiencies and shortcomings that precluded him from supporting it. He highlighted the fact that Republicans, as shown by their public record of support and support for classified resources, have always fought and will continue to fight to give the men and women of America's intelligence community the tools, authorities, and resources they need in order to detect, disrupt and prevent the next attack.

"America's intelligence professionals are risking it all on the frontlines to protect our nation, and they shouldn't have to face unwarranted criminal prosecution to do it," Hoekstra said.

"This bill fails to address a number of major national security issues that have emerged since it was first drafted months ago. For this reason, I and a number of my colleagues could not support this bill. As always, Republicans stand ready to work with Democrats and the president to pass a meaningful intelligence authorization bill that fully supports those we ask to serve at the tip of the spear," stated the veteran congressman.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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