Tom Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute argues that Rep. Duncan Hunter is correct in opposing the intelligence reform recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Donnelly agrees with Hunter that
by creating a national intelligence director with tremendously broad powers, [the proposed reform] would sever the link between “national” intelligence assets–mostly satellites, now bought, maintained and operated by the Defense Department–and troops in the field. The 9/11 panel and the bill made a false distinction between national intelligence gathering and tactical military operations. If this distinction were ever true, it was only in the depths of the Cold War, when the eyes of satellites were to focus on Soviet missile silos. Indeed, much of the purpose of military “transformation” has been to destroy the hierarchical structure of intelligence, to make the most sophisticated imagery, intercepts, and other intelligence “products” as readily available to the lowest level of military organization. This is ever more essential in the kind of wars now being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Hunter-Donnelly position makes sense to me, although I’m sure it’s debatable. What strikes me, though, is the absence of such debate. I’ve yet to hear any substantive response to Hunter’s views (or those of Rep. Sensenbrenner) from the 9/11 victims community, the 9/11 Commission, or the Democrats and MSM members who are feigning outrage that the reform bill has not sailed through Congress.
UPDATE: Daniel Aronstein at the Astute Blogger contends that, for the left, the fact that the 9/11 recommendations constitute a consensus is reason enough to enact them:
The Left – and the Old Media they dominate – prefer the 9/11 Commission’s proposals to anything else specifically because the Commission proposals were arrived at by consensus – across party lines. The Left believes that interventions into the status quo must be done ONLY after a consensus is reached across the “values divide” (a divide that can be political – as it is in this case -or cultural or national – as in the case of the UN, for instance). The Left’s belief in (and overvalue) of consensus is based on the fact that their meme is dominated by post-modernism – which denigrates Natural Law and universalism, and valorizes moral relativism. Consensus is ersatz universalism for Leftists. This is also why they think it was okay for the UN not to intervene in Rwanda (and Bosnia and elsewhere) because no consensus could be found. That’s why the Left condemns the Iraq War: because no consensus could be found. Without consensus there is no “right thing to do” for the Left. This is also the basis for the Left’s revulsion of Bush: Bush has a conviction that there are such things as right and wrong, and good and evil. So do Sensenbrenner and Hunter.
An interesting and perhaps well-taken point. Hovever, the left’s belief in consensus is itself plagued by relativism. The left is often able figure out “the right thing to do” in the absence of a consensus, on certain social issues for example. I suspect that the current rush to judgment has something to do with the desire to use the 9/11 Commission to bludgeon Republicans. Bush avoided his beating, so why not use the club against House Republicans and the Defense Department?
Meanwhile, another email raises two good questions. First, since the 9/11 intelligence failure came on the domestic side, and since the military successfully interacted with the intel folks in Afghanistan, “why are messing with the military side of the equation?” Second, “if there was inadequate exposure of alternate views of the intel data, how is that solved by having one person present their view?”