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    if we're not going to impeach, at least pass an amendment..., 2008-01-30 11:24:48 | Main | "I'm not criticizing President Bush on this because I did the same thing."..., 2008-01-30 20:24:03

    ignorance reform:

    It's hard to take Milt Bearden seriously when he complains that:

    When I first heard that the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques had been videotaped, my first reaction was, “what were they thinking?" Is there simply no adult supervision left in Washington?

    What's he mean? That the adults used to manage better cover-ups? No fool, he clarifies:

    In the last 30 years, the system has worked only when government was split between the White House and Congress—and then only moderately well.

    By which I suppose he means Reagan's "covert" wars in Central America and the Democratic congress' reaction to that which, to put it one way,

    diverted to the usual demands to know who did what, how far up the ladder the blame game can be played, and when will we get to see a perp walk on cable news

    While ignoring or offering uncritical support for Milt Bearden's jihad in Afghanistan, with its illegal heroin trade, never mind the unconsidered consequences. Or, for that matter: Operation Condor's assassination spree across the Western hemisphere; "Team B" analysts' baseless and misleading exaggerations of Soviet power; the debacle of infiltrating UNMOVIC to plot against Saddam or other absurd attempts to overthrow him, etc.. Bearden's suggestion for reform is to have, basically, the various intelligence agencies monitor themselves and have the "power" to complain to the White House:

    One might consider creating a select, non-partisan, independent committee outside Congress to augment the committees in the House and the Senate. Such a committee could be open to the “gang of eight,” and have a retired senior official from each of CIA, FBI, and the State, Defense and Justice Departments. There might also be a sitting federal judge, perhaps appointed by a previous administration.

    In those instances where sensitive intelligence activities are to be briefed to the gangs of four or eight, the committee would also be briefed. It would have standing authority to maintain transcripts of the briefings. If there were disputes over any activity briefed to the committee by the White House, the committee would have the authority to take the issue to the full oversight committees of the House and Senate. It would also have the authority to take the contested issues to the White House. Any variation of this approach could be considered, as long as the result puts us back on course.

    Put failures in charge of overseeing lies about future failure. Swell idea.

    This doesn't really address any fundamental issues about intelligence reform, and I don't see how another oversight committee really could. Some other considerations: vivisecting a mostly redundant and historically malignant DDO; addressing our systemic HUMINT deficiencies - what little capacity we ever had we're undermining with torture and unjustified wiretap noise-machines; using military training programs as asset factories; mechanisms for guaranteeing the independence of analysts; or the only real oversight issue - excessive over-classification and dysfunctional information restrictions. The pretense that the Bush administration's foibles are new and unique, when it's just bungling fanatics sandblasting persistent design flaws into high relief, is cynical in its persistence. Or worse, childlike in its innocence.


:: posted by buermann @ 2008-01-30 19:41:23 CST | link





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