Friday, December 23, 2005

Leftist Amendments Cripple Surveillance Bill

Amendments added to the Intelligence Authorization Bill by Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) forced Senate Republicans to block a move to pass the bill by unanimous consent. (Washington Post: GOP Blocks Action on Senate Intelligence Authorization Bill). Instead, the bill will now have to wait for action in the January session and will face a tough challenge as long as the two new provisions are included. This marks the first time in 27 years that the bill failed to be extended by the end of the year.

At issue are two last-minute amendments added by the Massachusetts contingent. Kennedy's amendment requires that the Administration turn over to Congress copies of the daily intelligence briefs that President Bush and President Clinton reviewed on Iraq. Such a move infringes on the authority and independence of the Executive Branch and oversteps the authority of congress. As such, any passage of the bill that includes that amendment would setup a confrontation between the two over presidential versus congressional authority. Congress is not privy to the Daily Brief, nor do they have any right to that information.

Also a source of contention is an amendment added by Kerry that would require the Director of the CIA to provide congress with details on secret prisons allegedly housed in Eastern Europe and Asia. Once again, the amendment oversteps the authority of Congress as the Director of the CIA reports directly to the President. Requiring the CIA to provide this type of top secret information regarding their operations abroad undermines the ability of the CIA to engage in the surveillance and intelligence gathering activities necessary for securing American interests both home and abroad.

Neither amendment will make it through congress as written. Even if they are able to squeak by in the Senate, they would most certainly die a rather quick death in the House. More troubling are the moves by the liberal Senators from Massachusetts to erode the ability of our intelligence gathering organizations to safeguard Americans. Still miffed over the methods being employed by the CIA and other intelligence organizations, Kennedy and Kerry would seek to defang our ability to extract information from terror supporters that are currently waging war against the US.

Naturally, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attempted to sensationalize the hold placed on the bill, claiming the move also put a hold on "vital intelligence operations". Ironically, it is precisely the intention of Kennedy and Kerry to cripple such operations, however congressional and intelligence community sources both issued assurances that this would have absolutely no effect on ongoing intelligence gathering efforts. For now, if the left truly wants to see the bill renewed for the 27th straight time, they would be well advised to withdraw the offending amendments. As written, there is simply no way we can tolerate that bill making its way through to passage.


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