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Congress Let Us Down, Too

Monday, 24 September 2001 12:00 AM

I have detailed how our 'Intelligence Community' failed us in Friday's

But another key component of our governmental apparatus has also

The Founding Fathers – no, I will not use the politically correct term, 'Founders' – saw firsthand the evils inherent in unchecked governmental authority. To a man, they fervently believed that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Thus they set out to craft a new governmental structure that would "check" and "balance" itself.

The Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial were to be three

Specifically, when it comes to intelligence and national security matters there is

The Congress is treated – and allows itself to be treated – like third graders by arrogant, condescending and patronizing CIA and Pentagon representatives. Rather than 'checking' the actions of our Intel community, the Congress fawns and pretends and acts as if they are important players in international matters.

In fact, most members of the House and Senate are so in love with themselves that all they care about is the next TV interview, the next fundraiser and the next cocktail party where people listen with rapt attention to every word – even when the senator or congressman doesn't have a clue what he or she is talking about.

When it comes to their

The problem probably began during the Vietnam War when we had a House of Representatives and a Senate firmly in the hands of liberal Democrats opposed to the war in Vietnam. The CIA and the Pentagon briefed the various intelligence and military committees – and then soon some of this sensitive information amazingly found its way into the Washington Post and New York Times.

Then the Pentagon Papers case radicalized the Nixon White House's conduct of press relations vis a vis the war.

The message was clear: Neither the Congress nor the press could be trusted.

Finally, years later during our 1980s support of the anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua, liberal Democrats in both the House and Senate clearly took classified information supplied during top secret Hill briefings and gave it to America's enemies. No wonder the Intel community has such disdain for Congress!

Out of this deteriorating relationship a new phenomenon emerged: The Congress has

Yes, congressional leaking – even last week Sen. Orin Hatch leaked information from a briefing and infuriated the administration in doing so – has poisoned the relationship between these agencies and the Hill. But without strong congressional probing, pushing, questioning – and critiquing – our system cannot work.

Just look at the past few years. We conservatives love to hammer the Clinton administration for failures in intelligence and for "gutting our military."

But since 1995 it has been the Republicans who controlled the purse strings. We Republicans ran the House and the Senate. And we were complicit in Clinton policies that weakened both the Pentagon and our Intel community.

Why didn't the Republican Congress simply refuse to pass Clinton budgets if they were bad for the military?

Why didn't the Republican Congress threaten to cut the CIA budget if the Hill was unhappy with new recruitment policies that cut back on the effectiveness of HUMINT (human intelligence)?

The Founding Fathers specifically placed all key matters involving the raising of money (taxes) and the spending of it in the hands of the House and the Senate. Thus, the Congress in many ways has

Yet the Clinton administration

No wonder the CIA runs amok! It can get the Hill to increase its funding any time it wants – from either party.

Now, in the wake of our biggest Intel screw-up

Or are they going to abdicate their job of truly overseeing - and punishing where necessary by cutting funds - an agency that is a 'government unto itself.'

Our Founding Fathers would throw up if they saw what our federal government has become today. The British crown was arrogant; today's CIA-led Intel community makes the 18th century British king seem humble!

The Congress needs to get tough and demand why our Intel community failed us so badly.

If the Congress refuses to do this, then they, too, face the possibility that this War on Terrorism could become a national disaster which consumes all politicians who allowed it to happen.

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I have detailed how our 'Intelligence Community' failed us in Friday's But another key component of our governmental apparatus has also The Founding Fathers – no, I will not use the politically correct term, 'Founders' – saw firsthand the evils inherent in...
Monday, 24 September 2001 12:00 AM
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