Promises made, promises broken – a retrospective on Pelosi’s 9-11 Commission promises
Well, they promised the most “honest, ethical, and open Congress in history“, which proved to be complete BS post-election after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not only let it be known that she was throwing her full support behind the ethically challenged Rep. John Murtha for House Majority Leader, but that she wanted impeached former federal judge-turned-House Rep. Alcee Hastings to chair the House Intelligence Committee as well. Neither are going to happen, as we now know, but the fact that Pelosi would support either shows the intent and will to completely disregard that campaign promise not even a week after the Democrats won control of Congress.
The latest promise broken that was made prior to the election? The WaPo has the details:
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.
Because plans for implementing the commission’s recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the “first 100 hours” of the Democratic Congress.
“I don’t think that suggestion is going anywhere,” said Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a close ally of the incoming subcommittee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). “That is not going to be their party position.”
It may seem like a minor matter, but members of the commission say Congress’s failure to change itself is anything but inconsequential. In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation’s intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees’ gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels’ defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.
But the commission was unequivocal about the need.
“Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important,” the panel wrote. “So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need.”
Now Democrats are balking, just as Republicans did before them.
Nancy Pelosi, 9/13/2006 in a press release talking about 9-11, and chastizing the Congress for not implementing the 9-11 Commission’s recommendations (emphasis added):
“But as we vote for it, I call upon the Speaker of this House to bring to this floor before we adjourn for the elections, legislation to enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations. We have all the time in the world to do it. Nothing is more important than the safety of the American people. We have no greater responsibility as elected officials than to provide for the public safety and national security of our country. Nothing else matters if we do not protect the American people. Instead, we have ignored those needs. We are cutting the COPS program so that neighborhoods are not safer. We are making matters worse. We have the opportunity to make matters better.
“If we do pass the 9/11 Commission recommendations, only then will we truly be honoring the memory of those who died. Only then will we truly be keeping our promise to their families that we will make America as safe as we can be. I urge the Speaker, once again, to bring the 9/11 Commission recommendations to the floor, to make America safer, to bring some peace to the families of 9/11, and bring to justice those who are responsible for those heinous acts five years ago.”
“The 9/11 Commission’s final report card is an indictment of the continued failure by the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress to meet the security needs of our nation and make Americans safer.
“Four years after the 9/11 attacks, the American people are not as safe as they should be. They have every reason to ask why and demand President Bush and Congressional leaders make safety of the American people their number one priority.
“Democrats continue to support addressing completely all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and will continue to fight for bipartisan solutions that will keep Americans safer.”
Nancy Pelosi, 12/7/2004, on the Congressional oversight recommendation – which is what the WaPo reports Dems are balking at:
“There is one recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that we are not considering today and that is congressional oversight. In addition to the changes in the executive branch, the Commission also recommended changes in the intelligence oversight process in the Congress. Without effective congressional oversight, the reforms put in place by this bill will be less successful in protecting the American people. I look forward to working with Speaker Hastert in a bipartisan way to institute more effective congressional oversight.
“Today, we must move forward. This bill, although not perfect, strengthens the process by which we manage the collection, processing, and dissemination of intelligence. In so doing, it reduces risk to the American people. It honors the work of the 9/11 Commission.
“The Speaker’s announcement today that the 9/11 conference committee will finally meet does little to address concerns that the House Republican leadership has failed to act upon the urgent recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. When the commission released its report nearly three months ago, the commissioners emphasized that we must move rapidly to make our nation safer, or risk terrible consequences if we did not.
“If President Bush truly wants an effective 9/11 bill, he must insist that the 9/11 conference committee act immediately to honor the work of the 9/11 Commission, respect the wishes of the 9/11 families, and make the American people safer. House Democratic conferees look forward to working with other members of the 9/11 conference committee to produce a final bill that will reduce risk for the American people and provide comfort to those who lost so much that day.”
This is the “change” the people who voted for “change” are getting.
Captain Ed is on a similar wavelength:
People should take note of the reforms that the Democrats wish to pursue in this next session of Congress. They want to clear out the Republicans from the levers of power, but offered John Murtha for Majority Leader, along with his pork-barrel extortive politics and the legacy of Abscam. They promised a tough and competent effort on national security, but offered a disgraced and impeached former judge to run the Intelligence Committee. Democrats pledged to take immediate action on all of the Commission’s recommendations, but they will balk at any meaningful reform that limits the power of their master appropriators, including Murtha himself.
In other words, the Democrats plan on using Intelligence budgets the same way that both parties have used them in the past: as a means to perform favors for powerful friends. Those who believed they voted for change in the midterms might find themselves vindicated; it looks like Congress will change for the worse, and in record time at that.
Just for the record, I’m not a big fan of the 9-11 Commission, because I think they whitewashed – in an effort to be “bi-partisan” – a lot of the Clinton administration’s efforts (or lack thereof) on counterterrorism. But the fact that Pelosi and Co. would go on and on for over 2 years about implementing all of the Commissions’ recommendations and then backtrack once she and her cohorts are elected to a majority of Congress is just one more example of how Democrats can talk the talk – but not walk the walk. They said what they needed to to get elected, but obviously don’t have plans to practice all of what they preached.
Hat tip: My friend Cump, who blogs at Amber and Chaos
Update: Here are more links, via Drudge:
“Republicans’ misplaced priorities mean America is not as safe it should be. Democrats have a new direction for the American people — one that will fully implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and make the security of the American people a top priority.”
Now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 10/9/06:
Reid said if Democrats take power, they would work to redeploy troops off the battlefields. Renew efforts to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Fully implement the 9-11 Commission’s recommendations. Rebuild the military, which some estimates show needs a $75 billion investment to bring it back up to pre war levels of readiness.
PM Update 12:32 PM: Tom Maguire notes in the comments section Pelosi’s 100 hour pledge. Via Pelosi’s official site:
In the first 100 hours:
We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.
We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.