We may have the makings of yet another political maelstrom, but this one could impact outside the beltway. Unlike the early reports about Verizon phone records, there now appears to be a lot more activity than meta-data collection by the intelligence community.
Let’s face it, the nation was due sooner or later for a PATRIOT ACT debate. I do not have enough information at this juncture to make an informed decision about what really happened, if anything. And as I penned last week, the media continues with sensationalist reporting. This is not going to help anyone and will likely expose things that should remain not said. The latest round of disclosures, however, does make me pause and think about what the heck is the government up to? This is not what the PATRIOT ACT was designed to do.
What inquiring minds in this town should be focusing in on are the close to forty members on the House and Senate intelligence committees. After the intelligence committees, look to leadership as well and possibly members of the Homeland Security committees. What did they know about these programs, if anything? If they knew, did anyone one of them voice concerns? Corporate America, you too. Your not off the hook on this one.
If folks find issues, maybe it is time to take a closer look at the ODNI. Of all the post-09.11.01 reforms, the creation of the ODNI was a big mistake and should never have been created. Rather than empower the head of the CIA and provide them those resources, folks in this town do what they do best when there are tough decisions to make, create another agency or sub agency. I could start piling on to DHS, but that is the subject for a separate post.
My primary point with this post is that there are still too many cooks in the intelligence kitchen — on the Hill and in the executive branch — tinkering with these issues. Let’s not give our enemies a sideshow we are going to regret down the road. If the PATRIOT ACT was abused by the agencies, and Congress knew about it, take this opportunity to fix the issue and, at the same time, reform the post-09.11.01 IC structure.
For once in a long (and maybe last) time, I agree with the ACLU.