In general, I’m not much of a “process” person, which is one reason why I’d make a lousy bureaucrat. So I have paid very little attention to the bill reorganizing the intelligence community along the lines recommended by the Sept. 11 commission. Given that I didn’t think much of the commission, and have no faith in bureaucratic reorganizations, my only concern was that the proposed changes not make the intelligence situation even worse. That fear seemed to be justified when a number of conservative Republicans in the House came out against the bill.
An agreement was reached yesterday which modified some language in the statute and swung enough additional votes behind the bill so that it apparently will pass within the next few days. Is this good or bad? I’ll defer to my friend (and Congressman) John Kline, who was quoted in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., one of the Armed Services Committee members who opposed the intelligence bill, said the deal reached Monday addresses his concerns about the initial version — that it would have removed the Pentagon from the chain of command over certain types of intelligence.
“I looked at the new language, and it seems to be even better than the language that we had been pushing,” said Kline, a retired Marine colonel. “I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
If John’s happy, I’m happy. Plus, there’s this:
Prominent civil liberties advocates have opposed the overall bill, saying that it grants broad new surveillance and anti-immigration powers to law enforcement agencies that endanger constitutional protections.
I don’t suppose that’s true, but we can always hope. I haven’t found the text of the bill online, but the New York Times has a summary of its provisions. This may be the “anti-immigration powers” that “endanger constitutional protections”:
[The bill] [m]akes receiving military-type training from a designated terrorist group an offense that can result in deportation.
How cruelly repressive can you get?