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December 9, 2006
Wasn't He On The Intel Committee Already?

Nancy Pelosi has struggled through a headache of her own making ever since tossing Jane Harman out of the House Intelligence Committee chair. She attempted to place Alcee Hastings into the slot, even though Hastings got impeached from the federal bench for corruption in the late 1980s. When her caucus rebelled, she instead selected Silvestre Reyes, who surprised the caucus with his support of an expanded US presence in Iraq. Now, according to CQ's Jeff Stein, Reyes has little understanding of America's explicit enemy in the war on terror:

... Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield? ...

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

Uh, no. AQ is overwhelmingly Sunni, actually more Wahhabi Sunni than anything else. Osama bin Laden and his cohorts don't cotton to Shi'ites; they consider them heretics, as Stein points out. Nor was Reyes' ignorance limited to the composition of al-Qaeda. When Stein asked him about Hezbollah -- which hasn't exactly flown under the radar this year -- he couldn't identify the Iranian proxy terrorists as predominantly Shi'ite.

Has Reyes actually attended intel committee hearings over the last few years? Has he read newspapers? People talk about George Bush being out of touch, but this should send genuine fear into the American electorate. How, Stein asks, can Reyes exercise effective oversight on American intelligence when he has so little understanding of our enemies and of the chief battlegrounds in the war on terror?

The Democrats should seriously reconsider Harman's expulsion. With the nation at war, we need people of expertise in these positions. It has become obvious that Pelosi instead considers these assignments only for their patronage value.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 9, 2006 12:01 PM

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Wasn't He On The Intel Committee Already?Ed Morrissey Nancy Pelosi has struggled through a headache of her own making ever since tossing Jane Harman out of the House Intelligence Committee chair. She attempted to place Alcee Hastings into the slot, [Read More]

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