Friday, February 15, 2008

Reyes Challenges Bush on Intelligence Bill

The Raw Story, an online publication, reprinted the letter that Representative Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent to President Bush. The letter was sent in response to Bush's demands that the House of Representatives just pass the intelligence bill that cleared the Senate and send it to him for his signature. The letter makes several interesting points.

The first is that there are three ways that the existing FISA law can be used to protect Americans. Representative Reyes gives an example of how the law was used in Germany to disrupt a terrorist plot.

The second is that it is not logical that giving telecommunications companies immunity for something they did years ago will impact on protecting Americans in the future.

The third is that the dangers to America stem from the failures of this Administration to capture terrorists. Here is a quote from the letter regarding this point:

"If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations – including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch."

He ends the letter with a promise that he won't back down to anyone, terrorists or presidents. It is a powerful letter and very well written.

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