Letter to the Editor

Intelligence operations need reform

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

To the editor:

The headline "Intelligence reform" on the recent op-ed column by U.S. Sen. Christopher S. Bond is pure irony. Combined with the subhead "One year later, it's a mixed bag," it becomes a metaphor for modern politics.

Bond, who sits on the Select Intelligence Subcommittee, bemoans the chaotic intelligence reorganization his Republican-controlled Congress has cobbled together. Rather than following the 9-11 Commission's recommendations, legislators chose a hodge-podge approach that retained existing organizations and merely added another layer of bureaucracy to crucial intelligence gathering and analysis. Bond criticizes turf wars, yet he voted to set up a system that left those separate authorities in place.

Although it may be one year since Congress acted on intelligence reform, it has been nearly five years since the World Trade Center attacks. Only in an election year has this issue regained vitality.

Bond attempts to shift responsibility by referring to "driving out many ... skilled officers ... in the 1990s." There is plenty of blame, and the current administration must accept its fair share. Porter Goss drove out more senior-level CIA officers than any previous director. The Bush White House disregarded those skilled field officers who warned of terror attacks or disputed pre-Iraq War intelligence.

Bond's statement, "Oversight is the job of the intelligence committees," is the ultimate irony. Congress has abrogated its mandated duties to oversee executive-branch agencies because the president is a Republican. If the Select Intelligence Subcommittee had been diligent, perhaps we wouldn't be in Iraq today.

CHRIS MOORE, Cape Girardeau