Duncan Hunter (R., CA.)and James Sensenbrenner (R. WI.), powerful Repulican committee chairs in the House, are a disgrace to their Party and our nation. They are an especial disgrace to those who perished on 9/11 and to the survivor families. These are the two people who single-handedly destroyed this country’s only chance to make right what went wrong on 9/11 by reforming our nation’s intelligence system to ensure that it won’t happen again (see House Leadership Blocks Vote on Intelligence Bill). With a Senate-House conference committee (on which they sat) prepared to conclude a compromise that each body could approve, these two stepped forward with intractable demands and opposition to the entire negotiated package.
Denny Hastert, that bastion of courage and leadership, caved to his two ranking colleagues and pulled the bill from consideration. Poof! Intelligence reform is dead for this session and perhaps forever. And that’s just the way Hunter, Sensenbrenner and the Pentagon would like it. As for Bush, I’m not sure. I first thought that perhaps Bush too wanted the bill to die but also wanted to be seen as supporting it (hence his last minute phone call to Sensebrenner ostensibly to ask him to back down).
But recent reports say that Bush remains committed to seeing the legislation pass and intends to renew his lobbying of the two Republican holdouts (see Bush Says He’ll Seek to Revive Intelligence Bill House Blocked). We’ll see.
If indeed Bush does support the legislation, then Hunter and Sensenbrenner have incredible balls to stand in the way of a recently re-elected Republican President. I guess they’re sending a shot across the bow of the White House, telling them that the arch-right-wing of the Party in the House plans to proceed with a vigorous agenda in the next Congress. Who knows what nuggets we’ll be seeing from them (shudder!).
Duncan Hunter is known for carrying water for the Pentagon. His southern California district encompasses many military facilities and many constituents are current or retired military personnel. Hunter never met a weapons system he didn’t like. The question is–is Hunter carrying water for Don Rumsfeld himself? Even if Don Rumseld does support this legislation, Hunter would never have gummed up the works unless some key players at the Pentagon egged him on. How could Rumsfeld be supporting the bill while his underlings are sabotaging it? Certainly makes you wonder who’s running who.
Rumsfeld might have just a few concerns about whether Bush will keep him on in the coming term. I’d think an out of control Pentagon wouldn’t look well in Bush’s eyes and this wouldn’t make a terribly good case for keeping Rummy on. Then again, Dick Cheney and Rummy are so hand in glove that Rummy might flip a ballistic missle switch and he’d still stay on.
Just in case anyone was wondering where he stood, Rummy’s PR flack released a statement trumpeting his boss’ support for the bill–well, er, not exactly resounding support:
In an interview Sunday, Larry Di Rita, Mr. Rumsfeld’s chief spokesman, said: “To place the failure of concluding that very complicated matter on one person is not only wrong, but immensely unfair. The secretary expressed strong support for the president’s objectives. These are complicated matters. The fact that it didn’t come together should not be blamed on one individual.”
Is the terribly vague statement that you support the President’s “objectives” the same as saying you support this bill? I don’t think so. But I can’t fully plumb that reptilian brain that runs the Pentagon.
What was Sensenbrenner’s problem? Old Jim doesn’t much like illegal aliens (guess they’ve got a real problem with ’em in his rural-suburban Wisconsin district) and thinks allowing them to get a driver’s license is a ‘license’ to commit terror. That’s right, Sensenbrenner thinks that illegal aliens are such a terrorist threat to this nation that none should be allowed to get driver’s licenses. Mighty interesting theory. Wonder if he’s ever checked out with national security experts whether anyone believes this will have any impact on terror. Jim is a big, powerful guy. He doesn’t need to check out these things. He knows he’s right and by God he’s going to make sure the entire country knows it too. Because he doesn’t want illegal aliens to drive, he’s going to hold up one of the most important pieces of Congressional legislation in recent memory. By God, he’s doing a service to this country and we should all be grateful to this idiot for doing so.