Lee P Butler

9-11 Legislation Should Now Be Fixed And Passed In A Truly Bipartisan And Timely Fashion

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9-11 Legislation Should Now Be Fixed And Passed In A Truly Bipartisan And Timely Fashion 
 

11-29-2004

With media elitists and Democrats still in shock and dismay over the election results of November 2, they languished in the resent failure by Congress, spearheaded by Republicans, to pass the 9-11-reform legislation that was reported to have been supported by the President and the Vice President. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, understanding the trouble ahead pulled the bill from being voted on until a later date, possibly in early December.

"It's hard to reform. It's hard to make changes," said Speaker Hastert. What's even harder is trying to fix problems that are created by the passage of a bill and the mandates of that legislation are put into effect. Which is exactly why we have different branches of government that, in theory, will balance each other to create the best legislation possible for the country.

"The president is committed that we do everything possible to build on the intelligence reforms that have already been made," said White House deputy press secretary Claire Buchan. Most of the recommendations of the 9-11 committee that were a large part of the 9-11 legislation have already been put into effect, so it was really just a minor part of the bill that caused the problem among legislators that concern national security.

"The 9/11 reform bill is currently snagged by the Senate's refusal to address three critical issues," Republican Representative from Wisconsin James Sensenbrenner commented on the problem he and Republican Representative form California Duncan Hunter saw with the bill. Sensenbrenner continued, "Should states continue to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens? Should we tighten our asylum system that terrorists exploited to such deadly effect? Have we ensured the military chain of command is not broken in our intelligence restructuring? The military chain of command is a life-or-death issue for our war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting this issue wrong to get a bill could have deadly consequences."

The last part of his statement is the most important part that media elitists who want nothing more in their reporting than to attack Republicans continue to 'leave out' of the story as they 'report' it. The spin on this issue as media elitists have been producing it is not that hard working legislators are trying to get the most effective bill to protect the American people, but that there is (smiles on reporters faces as they say this), turmoil among the Republican ranks now that they have all the power positions in Washington.

In a statement from the Family Steering Committee, they were even more adamant charging, "It is unconscionable that the compromise 9/11 Intelligence reform bill, negotiated with the help of Speaker Hastert's own staff, and quickly approved by Senate conferees, will not go to the House floor for a vote as anticipated. The legislation has been obstructed by the intransigence of two conferees: Representatives Duncan Hunter and James Sensenbrenner."

Intransigence? Funny how John Kerry was lauded for his 'unwillingness' to vote for funding of the troops who were in the theater of battle because he 'questioned how the money would be spent', yet as Sensenbrenner pointed out, "19 hijackers arrived here, they were able to secure 63 validly issued driver's licenses. Using these licenses, they were able to blend in and eventually board U.S. planes. Learning from this, the 9/11 Commission Report - which this legislation is based upon - recommends that the federal government 'set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and other sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft."

Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth stated simply but emphatically, "Border security is homeland security."

Since most of the provisions that the 9-11 commission suggested have already been implemented, it seems that it would be more conscientious to make the rest of the legislation as cogent as possible before final passage, leaving less room for problems later. Specifically, Sensenbrenner addressed this when he said, "I fear that passage of the current bill, which fails to comprehensively address the problems exposed by 9/11, will not do enough to prevent another 9/11."

Representative Hunter's concerns were directed more towards protecting the military, especially the troops in the field of combat. "In my judgment, this bill, without strongly reaffirming the chain of command, would render that area confused to the detriment of our Americans in combat so I will not support it," Hunter said.

This problem could have been avoided altogether, because on October 29 compromise language arrived from Stephen J. Hadley, assistant to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, titled 'Preservation of Authority and Accountability'. It said in part: "Nothing in this title or amendments made by this title shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect ... the authority of the principal officers of the executive department as heads of their respective departments," but was not accepted as part of the legislation because legislators felt it interfered with having one director of intelligence.

So it's acceptable for one group of legislators not to compromise their standards, but another group should, just on the basis that Congress can claim an empty victory of having passed weak and possibly detrimental legislation? Representative Hunter said it best when he asserted, "what we have to do here is exercise our best judgment."

Which finally leads us to the political aspect of this whole ordeal and one of the reasons Speaker Hastert may (or may not) have pulled the bill before the vote. Even if he wasn't utilizing this, it will prove effective later when the next election is in full swing.

If the bill would have gone to the vote and was passed with Republicans in disagreement over the effectiveness of it, forcing them to vote against it, on the campaign trail Democrat strategists would have seized on that vote record to attack those Representatives as having 'voted against protecting America' no matter how justifiable their reasons may have been.

Now, they should fix the problematic parts of the legislation, agree on the compromise and effectively pass necessary legislation without rushing it to a vote that best protects citizens and military personnel and can be announced was done in a truly bipartisan fashion.

Lee P Butler

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