S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why were they surprised?

Today's big Intelligence Story -- on the revision of Executive Order 1233 -- gets even bigger. It turns out that Congress got by-passed with the revisions and they were hurt and surprised. We are not a bit surprised. And the "Two Mikes," may have a bit of negotiating to do as Mike McConnell-DNI takes over a bit more power from Mike Hayden-CIA. As follow-up to an earlier post, "Bush Orders Intelligence Overhaul" (NYT -- updated the afternoon of 7/31/08). To quote:

The [House Intelligence] Committee believes it has not been consulted or informed about critical intelligence matters. These include the executive order; Israel's bombing of an alleged Syrian nuclear facility last summer; changes in U.S. intelligence on Iran; the administration's warrantless wiretapping program; and the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes.
''This president is making it impossible for Congress to do oversight of the intelligence community,'' the committee's top Republican, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, told The Associated Press. ''The only effective oversight that can be done is out of the executive branch. And this is the fox guarding the chicken coop.''
. . . Even before the executive order was released Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union condemned it.
''We have secret laws governing secret agencies that are engaging in secret spying against Americans, and they're using our own tax dollars to do it. This isn't keeping us safer it's only making all Americans suspects in the eyes of the government,'' said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's legislative office in Washington.
. . . the latest version of Executive Order 12333 gives the national intelligence director new power to oversee those relationships, including how much information and the type of information to be shared with a foreign government; the CIA still will carry out day-to-day contacts. The intelligence director is also gaining oversight of covert operations, an area where the CIA has been the traditional authority.
Exactly how disagreements will be worked out between the two is to be determined. CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees in an e-mail message Thursday that CIA officers on ''the front lines'' will have ''a strong voice'' in working out the new procedures.
Here are a few more Intel Committee walk-out details from "The Crypt" at (7/31/08) "House Republicans walk out of meeting with DNI McConnell." To quote:

A group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, walked out of a meeting with DNI Mike McConnell on Thursday, to protest what they see as a lack of consultation from the administration on intelligence matters.

. . . Earlier in the day, President Bush approved revisions to Executive Order 12333, the order that governs the activities of America’s intelligence agencies. Many members of Congress felt they were note properly consulted throughout the revision process.

. . . Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes agreed with Hoekstra, saying he was "deeply disappointed" that the president did not seek congressional input.

"We were only shown the document after it was complete and on its way to the President for his signature," said Reyes.

“After seven years of a go-it-alone presidency, perhaps I should expect nothing more from this White House. But this order will be binding on future administrations as well. For that reason, we must conduct effective oversight, so that we can advise the next President of whether this order should remain in effect or should be repealed.”

Mike McConnell must really be feeling his oats these days. I have a hunch that the next thrust will be to coopt their adversaries. That is my dark view of this story. I may just be looking for trouble. The headline reads, "DNI McConnell to Intelligence Analysts: Go Talk to Juan Cole." It was written by emptywheel (7/30/08) at Firedoglake. To quote:

In a post on AJ Rossmiller's Still Broken, I pointed out that bloggers probably knew more than Condi Rice leading up to the 2005 Iraqi elections because 1) we were reading Juan Cole, 2) we didn't censor out news we didn't like:

When AJ was asked how he got the 2005 election right, one of the things he pointed to, half-seriously, was the open source work of Juan Cole.
Well, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell just conceded that AJ was right for reading Juan Cole.
In conclusion, I know you all will be so excited to learn that as of June 5, 2008, DNI McConnell is willing to stay on for six months to assist with the presidential transition. Why are we not surprised? To quote from an earlier story.

CNN has learned that the Director of National Intelligence Admiral (retired) Michael McConnell is letting it be known he is willing to stay for up to six months in the next Administration to help facilitate any transition, if a new president wishes him to.

Reference: Executive Order 12333 Amended (pdf 40 pgs).
View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
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