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Bush, House To Try Intelligence Reform in December

Old 11-22-04, 10:24 AM
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Bush, House To Try Intelligence Reform in December

CNN:

Impasse over bill based on 9/11 commission findings

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush and Republican congressional leaders are preparing another bid in December to overcome conservative Republican opposition and pass an intelligence community overhaul designed as a response to the September 11 attacks.

"When I get home, I look forward to getting it done," Bush told a news conference Sunday after an economic summit in Santiago, Chile. He promised to work with Republican leaders in Congress who are preparing to return December 6 for another try.

Blocked by resistance from two committee chairmen and conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, lawmakers turned back a last-minute chance Saturday to pass the stalled legislation to create a new national intelligence director and national counterterrorism center.

Based on the September 11 commission recommendations, the overhaul is supposed to help the intelligence community track terrorist threats and was one of the biggest legislative priorities of this year.

Despite Republican control of Congress, Bush hasn't been able enlist enough support House Republicans.

"For us to do the bill in early December, it will take significant involvement by the president and the vice president," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "It will take real focus on their part."

"The president is going to have to stand up to both his own Defense Department and to the hard right," Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Bush did not directly respond to a question about whether his own defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, contributed to the deadlock. Some Democrats and Republicans in Congress said Rumsfeld opposed relinquishing control of Pentagon intelligence spending to a new national intelligence director.

"I was disappointed the bill didn't pass," Bush said. "I thought it was going to pass up to the last minute."

He added that both he and Vice President Dick Cheney talked with key members of the House and "it was clear I wanted the bill passed."

Without passage in December, lawmakers would have to restart the legislative process when the new Congress convenes in January.

"There are congressmen and senators up there that have very, very strong beliefs," Tom Ridge, secretary of Homeland Security, said of the logjam.

"Trying to reconcile all those beliefs in a very short period of time in order to reconfigure an intelligence community that has existed for four or five decades, that's pretty difficult to do," Ridge said Monday on NBC's "Today" show.

Two Republican committee chairmen led the effort to keep the bill from the House floor Saturday. Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter echoed Pentagon concerns that the realignment of intelligence authority could interfere with the military chain of command and endanger troops in the field. Congressman James Sensenbrenner of the House Judiciary Committee demanded that the bill also deal with illegal immigration.

Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have resisted provisions that would reduce their control over 80 percent of the estimated $40 billion annual intelligence budget.

"It's well-known that the secretary of defense wasn't enthusiastic about this loss of budget authority," Sen. John McCain, a Republican, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Remember, most of our fiercest debates in Washington comes down to who controls the money."

Congress did fulfill its last major obligation of the two-year session on Saturday, passing a $388 billion spending bill for most domestic programs during the budget year that began October 1.

But the House must briefly reconvene this week to join the Senate in passing a resolution nullifying a line in the 3,000-page spending bill that gives two committee chairmen and their aides access to personal income tax returns without regard to privacy protections.
_______________

I hope the impasse continues.

The new Congress should look at these proposals with a more careful eye.

Far too often there is a rush to judgment. I fear this has occurred with this issue.
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Old 11-22-04, 11:41 AM
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Was it already settled that the CIA would be able to control its budget?
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Old 12-03-04, 11:02 AM
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Anyone want to summarize?

Intelligence Bill Gets Fresh Bush Support
Letter Urging Passage to Be Sent to Hill

By Walter Pincus and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page A04

President Bush is beginning a last-ditch effort to get intelligence restructuring legislation passed by Congress next week, bolstered by the nation's top military officer, who said yesterday that congressional negotiators had addressed his concerns about the bill and that he is dropping his opposition to it.

Bush is expected to send to congressional leaders today a letter that will emphasize his support for the compromise legislation pending before Congress and ask that the House pass it on Monday, according to congressional and administration sources. In that letter, the sources said, he will deal with the two issues House Republican leaders have cited as obstacles to approval -- protection for war fighters and control of illegal immigration.


These sources said the letter is expected to say that the compromise legislation -- which would establish a director of national intelligence with budget authority over the 15 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community, including three in the Pentagon -- would preserve the current powers of the defense secretary.

An Oct. 21 letter written by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has until now been used by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to strengthen opposition to the measure on the ground that it could harm the country's war fighters.

In his letter, Myers had said that only the House version of the bill would adequately preserve the defense secretary's control over funds for intelligence agencies that provide critical support to combat operations.

"The issue that I commented on, I understand, has been worked satisfactorily in the conference report," Myers said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "That part has been accommodated," he said, adding: "I haven't seen the specific language."

Myers said he did not want to discuss the issue in depth: "This is being worked between the White House and the House and Senate and the conferees, and it's inappropriate for me to comment on that process."

Bush will reportedly also attempt in his letter to deal with the opposition of House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who has pressed for the inclusion in the measure of a number of immigration and law enforcement provisions, some of which were opposed by Senate members and were dropped from the compromise bill.

Bush's letter, the administration and congressional sources said, will express support for several of Sensenbrenner's proposals but will say he is pleased that the more controversial issues were dropped for consideration next year.

The president's letter is not expected to mention the most controversial Sensenbrenner proposal, one that would require special driver's licenses for noncitizens so that they could be readily identified. Under Sensenbrenner's plan, any noncitizen's driver's license would be temporary, expiring at the same time as his or her visa or other temporary document authorizing presence in the United States.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that the president had spoken to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to map out strategy for getting the measure passed next week. Hastert pulled the bill from a House vote before the Thanksgiving recess when opposition led by Hunter and Sensenbrenner made it clear that a majority of House Republicans might vote against the measure if it is brought to the floor.

"Intelligence reform is a high priority for the president," McClellan said, "and he wants Congress to get this done as soon as possible."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and a prime author of the intelligence measure, said on Fox News: "I'm optimistic that the bill will be voted on next week. I am convinced that if it's brought before the full House and the full Senate for a vote . . . it will pass with a strong vote."

After receiving a call yesterday from White House chief political adviser Karl Rove, Collins noted that "the White House is working very hard to convince the speaker that he should bring the bill up, and I'm optimistic that he'll decide to do so."

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said yesterday that the bill "is not perfect, but it is a big improvement on what we have." During an appearance on Fox News, Shelby said both Hunter and Sensenbrenner have legitimate complaints, so the question is whether the White House will "be able to satisfy their concerns between now and next week."

Myers also emphatically defended his handling of the Iraq war during his breakfast with reporters yesterday.

Asked if he has any regrets about the statements he made before the war that he was confident that weapons of mass destruction would be found, he said, "It's not over yet," indicating he thinks it is possible that stockpiles still might be found.

He declined to say whether he had expected, 20 months into the war, to suffer 10,000 U.S. casualties and to send more troops to Iraq. "If you look back, nobody predicted exactly where we'd be, and nobody can," he said. "I'm really proud of what we've done. I'm proud of the way we're doing it."

He said it is possible that the military presence in Iraq could be boosted even above the increase of about 12,000 -- to 150,000 -- announced earlier this week. "It's a continuing process," he said. "If additional troops are needed, they'll be provided."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2004Dec2.html
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Old 12-03-04, 11:28 AM
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A rush to judgment - much more thought is needed before this goes through. It's not going to hurt to hold this over to the next session and conduct real hearings and discuss the problems that a bunch of folks have with the bill.

I wasn't aware that the Senators were even in on the negotiations. I thought Collins said there would be no further negotiations. If that is correct, how could congressional negotiations have eased the reservations held by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

Congress apparently learned its lesson with verbal deals they made with Presidents - mainly Bill Clinton. They're now demanding it in writing. Good for them.

Last edited by classicman2; 12-03-04 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 12-03-04, 11:32 AM
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I agree. Somehow the 911 Commission has become god-like in that people believe all of its recommendations have to be implemented immediately. I don't think that putting another layer of beaurocracy is a good thing.
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Old 12-03-04, 11:39 AM
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Many in the congress including two of the most vocal proponents of this legislation, Sen. Lieberman & Rep. Shays from CT, wanted to adopt the commission's proposal without so much as a hearing.

Of course one of the recommendations (one of the most odious) was to allow the intelligence committees of both houses to have both budgetary & approriation powers - leaving out the safeguards of the appropriation processes in the two chambers. That recommendation was killed in the Senate.
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Old 12-03-04, 03:59 PM
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Originally posted by bhk
I agree. Somehow the 911 Commission has become god-like in that people believe all of its recommendations have to be implemented immediately. I don't think that putting another layer of beaurocracy is a good thing.
Absolutely right bhk. I don't think it was beuracracy that let us down on 9/11. It was a longer term problem of overreliance on sattelite technology and not field agent intelligence. Another leyer of beaurocracy is not going to solve that systemic problem.
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Old 12-03-04, 04:15 PM
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We tried intelligence reform about four weeks ago - unfortunately, the effort failed.

In another note: Holy crap, that first article sucks. Lots of detail about the attempt to enact the overhaul... <i>no detail about what the overhaul entails.</i> We get one crumb about a new intelligence center, and that's it.

It feels... Orwellian. Imagine a bill passing through Congress with its contents sealed and withheld from the public, even after it passes. We might read a lot about the "Smith Act" that the president supports but Congress opposes, and a vague reference toward "improving social demographics," but nothing else. Then one day, we get the news that the Smith Act has passed and is now the Smith Law, though its contents are sealed. That's what this feels like...

- David Stein
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Old 12-03-04, 07:30 PM
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Well it seems as if the White House has changed its tune somewhat. Apparently the administration is no longer supporting the Senate bill wholeheartedly. According to Scott McClellan, press secretary, the White House is insistent upon the DOD retaining the current chain of command for the war fighters - a position favored by Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Apparently there were no members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the conference committee - surprising indeed. It was this committee that has serious reservations about the Senate bill and the change in the chain of command from the DOD to the new intelligence czar as it pertains to battlefield intelligence gathering.

The letter was not sent to the hill. The White House says further negoitations are needed, but hoped it would see final passage early next week.
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Old 12-06-04, 02:41 PM
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Apparently there will be an intelligence 'reform' bill passed this week.

It is reported that Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, has received assurances from the White House that his concerns will about the bill will be addressed.
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Old 12-06-04, 04:00 PM
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Congressman Tom Tancredo (R/CO) had some harsh words to say about Bush concerning immigration reform and the intelligence reform bill on CNN's Inside Politics.

He all but called the president a liar.

He said the president is not really interested in protecting U. S. borders because he's an internationist.

The White House has insisted that immigration reform can be dealt with later in a separate bill. Tancredo said that it would never get the Senate because there were a bunch of wimps (his word) in the senate. He said that if it did, Bush would veto the bill.
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Old 12-08-04, 08:40 AM
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House Passes Intel Reform Bill

WASHINGTON The House overwhelmingly approved an intelligence reform bill Tuesday evening, clearing the way for the law's expected passage in the Senate by Wednesday.

House lawmakers passed the bill 336 to 75. The measure was the product of months of negotiating over language in the bill that was objectionable to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee chairmen.

President Bush has said he would sign the legislation.

The bill seeks to overhaul a national intelligence network that failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, combining under one official control of 15 spy agencies, intensifying aviation and border security and allowing more wiretaps of suspected terrorists.

"We have come a long way toward taking steps that will ensure that we do not see another September 11th," said House Rules chairman David Dreier, R-Calif. Now "we have in place a structure that will ensure that we have the intelligence capability to deal with conflicts on the ground wherever they exist."

The Republican-majority House voted to send the Senate legislation to create a new national intelligence director, establish a counterterrorism center, set priorities for intelligence gathering and tighten U.S. borders. The measure would implement the biggest change to U.S. intelligence gathering and analysis since the creation of the CIA after World War II to deal with the newly emerging Cold War.

The new structure should help the nation's 15 intelligence agencies work together to protect the country from attacks like the ones that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, lawmakers said.

"I have always said that good people need better tools. Here come the tools to help good people succeed," said Rep. Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

The GOP-controlled Senate plans to pass the bill Wednesday and send it to Bush for his signature.

Congressional approval would be a victory for Bush, whose leadership was questioned after House Republicans refused to vote on the bill two weeks ago despite his urging.

"The president was monitoring the debate on C-SPAN in the conference room on Air Force One," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "The president is very pleased with House passage. He knows that this bill will make America safer. ... He greatly looks forward to Senate passage and ultimately to signing the bill into law."

Heavy and persistent lobbying by the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and families of attack victims kept the legislation alive through the summer political conventions, the election and a post-election lame duck session of Congress. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney also pushed hard in recent days.

Bush's support was "important for the future of the president's relations with members of Congress," said Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the lead Senate negotiator.

Families of several Sept. 11 victims held hands and wept as the House passed the legislation. Bill Harvey, a New Yorker whose wife, Sara Manley, was killed at the World Trade Center a month after the couple wed, said the victory was also a sad reminder.

"The vote took 15 minutes, and it was pretty emotional. I thought about her during the 15 minutes of the vote," he said.

The Sept. 11 commission, in its July report, said disharmony among the nation's 15 intelligence agencies contributed to the inability of government officials to stop the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The government failed to recognize the danger posed by Al Qaeda and was ill-prepared to respond to the terrorist threat, the report concluded.

"We are going to create a more aggressive, a more vibrant and a more organized intelligence community that is going to give policy-makers the information that they need to make the appropriate decisions," said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. "It's also going to give and continue to give very, very good information to our war-fighters."

The bill includes a host of anti-terrorism provisions, such as allowing officials to wiretap "lone wolf" terrorists and improving airline baggage screening procedures. It increases the number of full-time border patrol agents by 2,000 per year for five years and imposes new federal standards on information that driver's licenses must contain.

House GOP leaders held up action on the bill for two weeks because Armed Services chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was concerned that the new intelligence director might insert himself into the chain of command between the president and military commanders in the field.

The legislation moved forward after Hunter and the bill's negotiators came to an agreement Monday on language clarifying the president's control.

"The president as well as his team worked with Congressman Hunter as well as all the congressional leaders on making sure that all concerns were addressed," Duffy said.

The compromise language ensures that battlefield commanders will take orders from "the secretary of defense and above him from the president of the United States," Hunter said, and they have "every military asset under his command, including intelligence assets."

Some Republicans, however, still don't like the measure, with 67 voting against final passage. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is upset because it doesn't prohibit states from giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants or change asylum laws to make it more difficult for terrorists to get into the country.

"Good intelligence is useless without good homeland security," Sensenbrenner said Tuesday.

Sensenbrenner and his supporters extracted a promise from GOP leaders that their illegal-immigration provisions would be attached to a separate bill when the new Congress convenes next year.

Other Republicans said they would oppose the whole overhaul bill because they saw it as useless.

"I believe creating a national intelligence director is a huge mistake," said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. "It's another layer of bureaucracy."
_________________

I believe LaHood has got it about right.

Prediction: It won't take the congress 6 months to realize that they've made a 'rush to judgment' and start seriously amending this legislation.

Within a year - the NID post will either no longer exist or it's power will be defanged.
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Old 12-08-04, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Ranger
Was it already settled that the CIA would be able to control its budget?
Well it appears that the budget hasn't changed. The Pentagon still controls the CIA's budget, but we now have another level of Bureaucracy with an Intelligence Czar who reports directly to the President. Think we had some cooked intelligence before? Another layer of politics in the mix should make even more politicizing of intelligence. The more I think about this legislation, the more I'm against it. I applaud the Republicans (and Democrats) who had the guts to vote against this feel good legislation.
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Old 12-08-04, 09:08 AM
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That's exactly what it is - feel good legislation.

The problem with feel good legislation is that sometimes it can do harm.

It's difficult (it actually takes guts) to oppose legislation that's supposed to improve our capability to prevent another 9/11, was unanimously proposed by a bi-partisan commission of stalwart citizens, supported by the 9/11 victims' families, etc.

It has been the 'custom' of this country to make a rush to judgment seemingly after every tragedy - Pearl Harbor and the internment of Japanese Americans, the bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of the federal building at Oklahoma City, etc.
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Old 12-08-04, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Congressman Tom Tancredo (R/CO) had some harsh words to say about Bush concerning immigration reform and the intelligence reform bill on CNN's Inside Politics.
Tancredo kicks major ass. I've been watching him on the floor since 9/11, whenever I can catch him, and I've often entertained the notion of moving to Colorado just to be able to support him. There is no one in the House or Senate half as vocal or half as committed to fighting illegal immigration as this guy is.
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Old 12-08-04, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
but we now have another level of Bureaucracy with an Intelligence Czar who reports directly to the President. Think we had some cooked intelligence before? Another layer of politics in the mix should make even more politicizing of intelligence. The more I think about this legislation, the more I'm against it. I applaud the Republicans (and Democrats) who had the guts to vote against this feel good legislation.
My sentiments exactly.
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Old 12-08-04, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Mutley Hyde
Tancredo kicks major ass. I've been watching him on the floor since 9/11, whenever I can catch him, and I've often entertained the notion of moving to Colorado just to be able to support him. There is no one in the House or Senate half as vocal or half as committed to fighting illegal immigration as this guy is.
That's one thing that was interesting about this bill. A lot of Republicans balked at the bill because they took out the clauses for illegal immigration enforcement. Does anyone know which lawmaker took those provisions out of the bill? Personally, if I supported the other parts of the bill (which I don't), I would have voted for the bill and tried to get the immigration enforcement done in another bill, but that's just me. Always happy to see another example of both parties failing to enforce our immigration laws.
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Old 12-08-04, 10:54 AM
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There's no chance that an immigration reform bill such as a number of Republicans (including the House Judiciary Chairman) want. Why? Because it will be opposed by the administration, the Democrats in the House, and basically all the Senate - including a number a Republicans.
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Old 12-08-04, 12:11 PM
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I've just been watching a speech by Senator Pat Roberts (R/KS) on the floor of the Senate. This man scares the hell out of me. He doesn't want a National Intelligence Director. He doesn't want an Intelligence Czar. He wants an Intelligence god with supreme power over everything, it seems.

He also seems to want an all-powerful intelligence committee. Hmm! I wonder why? Could it have something to do with the fact that he's Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee?
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Old 12-08-04, 06:16 PM
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Well, we do need an intelligence overhaul, and this should be a good thing. We need once centralized intelligence source, not a dozen, where each one is competing with the other, which in turn results in confusion. Look at the FBI, DEA, ATF. These three agencies should be consolidated to one.
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Old 12-09-04, 08:42 AM
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Well, we do need an intelligence overhaul, and this should be a good thing. We need once centralized intelligence source, not a dozen, where each one is competing with the other, which in turn results in confusion. Look at the FBI, DEA, ATF. These three agencies should be consolidated to one.
That's exactly what we don't need, IMO. Competition is what we do need. Competition breeds excellence. We do need more coordination between the different agencies. We don't need one voice telling the President - we need a number of voices (just possibly differing opinions) telling the President.

The bill passed the Senate with only 2 dissenting votes - Byrd & Inhofe. Good for them!
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Old 12-09-04, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
That's exactly what we don't need, IMO. Competition is what we do need. Competition breeds excellence. We do need more coordination between the different agencies. We don't need one voice telling the President - we need a number of voices (just possibly differing opinions) telling the President.
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