Jim Kouri
June 19, 2012
Congress fighting to salvage U.S. intelligence assets from Obama cuts
By Jim Kouri

The intelligence community and the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees have been working together during the past year, in recognition of the current challenging fiscal environment, to find efficiencies in the United States intelligence community's annual budget, according to U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI). Both Republican and Democrat House members want to avert President Barack Obama's so-called "sequestration plan."

"We have actually done more in certain areas by finding efficiencies in other areas and reducing the overall cost of our 17 agencies," said Rogers, who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Unlike the dangerous across-the-board cuts the Clinton Administration during the 1990's, the current funding cuts were selected to ensure that no important operational intelligence capabilities were impacted, which many believe happened during the Clinton years that contributed to the U.S. being blindsided on September 11, 2001.

"Cutting U.S. intelligence resources will not only impact policymakers and the military, but also federal, state and local law enforcement agencies," said former NYPD Detective Sidney Franes, a former president of the Guardians Association.

"Let me be clear — the Intelligence Community has given until it hurts to produce budget efficiencies, but we did this without adversely affecting the mission, which is critically important," claims Rep. Rogers.

Rogers' committee is attempting to avert sequestration by the Obama White House, which entails across-the-board budget cuts to all defense and homeland security spending including across-the-board reductions in intelligence agencies funding.

"The across-the-board nature of the sequester means that there is very little discretion left to our intelligence agencies about how to apportion these reductions," Rep. Rogers warned

For example, sequestration will cause thousands of intelligence officers and specialized technicians to be laid off, which would include terminating the employment of those intelligence officers and technicians working around the world, and around the clock, to stop terrorists and terrorist plots before they arrive on U.S. shores.

It would deprive first-responders such as police, fire and emergency medical services of strategic and tactical intelligence in order to avert or respond to a terrorist attack by a foreign organization or a homegrown terrorist in communication with a foreign terrorist group.

As far as technological intelligence gathering, the National Security Agency would have to significantly reduce its ability to intercept, translate and analyze terrorist communications about their plans to attack the United States and Western targets. This would significantly reduce the odds of detecting and disrupting those terrorist plots within the homeland as well as protect U.S. interests abroad.

Intelligence resources that provide tactical intelligence to U.S. soldiers and Marines in harm's way in places such as Afghanistan would be significantly reduced.

Also, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) would be forced to cut back the number of satellite images that it analyzes, reducing our odds of detecting significant foreign military activity, such as North Korean preparations for an attack on our troops in South Korea.

"Our intelligence agencies and the important work they do is our first line of defense against the many threats around the world to our national security. Sequestration would be dangerous and irresponsible for many reasons, not the least of which is the threat to those vital intelligence capabilities, and Congress must act to avoid it," warned Rogers.

"The House has put an offer on the table that would avert this disaster. We passed a bill earlier this month with responsible spending reforms that will bring down the debt without endangering our national security. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up this bill without further delay," Rogers noted.

© 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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