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December 3, 2004
Bush Picks Up Myers' Support For Intelligence Bill

George Bush has decided to make another push to get the intelligence-reform bill through Congress, and he now has new support to undercut objections from GOP House members that have blocked its passage. Joint Chiefs chair General Richard Myers, whose objections have been used to stall the bill from coming to the house floor, announced yesterday that a Congressional conference session addressed all of his concerns and that he now supports its passage:

An Oct. 21 letter written by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has until now been used by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to strengthen opposition to the measure on the ground that it could harm the country's war fighters. ...

"The issue that I commented on, I understand, has been worked satisfactorily in the conference report," Myers said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "That part has been accommodated," he said, adding: "I haven't seen the specific language." ...

Bush will reportedly also attempt in his letter to deal with the opposition of House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who has pressed for the inclusion in the measure of a number of immigration and law enforcement provisions, some of which were opposed by Senate members and were dropped from the compromise bill.

Bush's letter, the administration and congressional sources said, will express support for several of Sensenbrenner's proposals but will say he is pleased that the more controversial issues were dropped for consideration next year.

It would appear that Bush has cut the legs off of Duncan Hunter and probably James Sensenbrenner and will get House speaker Denny Hastert to finally produce the bill for a vote. I believe that the reforms included in this bill will prove damaging to intelligence analysis rather than beneficial, and in the immediate aftermath of the election, I don't see the necessity for rushing it through Congress. The additional bureaucracy it creates will only impede the flow of information to the President and narrow down the options available to him even further than our existing structure does.

However, with Myers withdrawing his objections, I don't see Hunter being able to stand up to an undeniable majority in the House who want to vote on the bill. I expect it to pass Congress in the next week or so and for Bush to sign it into law before Christmas. Congress and the White House, having created this bureaucratic behemoth, will have to watch it carefully to ensure it does not create new breakdowns in intelligence analysis -- or we may find ourselves waiting on another commission report to explain why Washington DC suddenly disappeared in a flash of light.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 3, 2004 6:14 AM

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