It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.Some of those recommendations, of course, are more easily implemented by the executive branch, or at least with executive cooperation. But others are completely within the realm of the legislature, and a majority party could simply and easily implement them.
But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue...Unlike the Bush administration, which only made cosmetic changes to address the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, the Democrats are serious. They might create a panel.
In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation's intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees' gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.Fortunately for America's recipients of taxpayer largesse, legislators of both parties are clear: national security is all well and good to talk about, but we won't ever prostitute our special interests to national security!
The commission was unequivocal about the need. "Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important," the panel wrote. "So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need."The more I learn about our side, the more I understand the terrorists.