Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 04, 2006

It Depends On What Your Definition Of 'All' Is

Did Nancy Pelosi really think the Dems would win the mid-terms?

Consider "100 hours" -- the amount of time she gave herself to implement major reforms. That's not the sort of number one would throw out if you really thought you'd have to stick to it, even if you give the Congress only 5 hours a day to work. How about 1,000 hours? That would be more like it.

And "all" the recommendations of the 9/11 Committee? I heard Hugh mention that Pelosi was possibly backing off that promise already. WaPo reported that tidbit over the weekend and Dem operatives have been hard at work denying that any such back-off is in the works.

Really? Even the recommendations that go against the Dem's grain? Houston Chronicle DC columnist Cragg Hines wrote about this little problem over the weekend:
House Democrats seem to like all of the commission's recommendations except the part that would dramatically alter the way intelligence issues are handled by the House and Senate.

The commission called for sweeping changes, both as to policy and funding.

"So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security that they want and need," the commission said.

The commission's argument boils down to: Intelligence agencies tend not to take congressional authorizers seriously because those legislators do not control the intelligence appropriations process, and appropriators in Congress, overwhelmed by dozens of other competing line-item outlays, spend too little time analyzing intelligence spending.

"Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important," the commission said.

Boy, did they get that right.

Difficult, indeed. If only because changing how Congress handles intelligence issues — policy oversight and funding — involves stepping on some highly sensitive toes. Giving appropriations power over intelligence to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence or even to new appropriations subcommittees means taking that power from the appropriations subcommittees that currently have jurisdiction.

In the case of Pelosi's House Democrats, one set of those toes belongs to Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, in line to become chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handles defense and intelligence spending.

Pelosi could barely fill the House Intelligence Committee chair, and she failed in her efforts to boost Murtha's stature ... and now, implementing this recommendation would require taking even more power from Murtha and placing it in the hands of a man who was obvious low on the list of potential chairs of House Intelligence.

Obviously, Nancy was making promises in the Dem tradition ... big and bold, but who cares, we're not in power anyway. Ooops.

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