Monday, August 09, 2004

Cheney Stopped Reforms


Cheney Stopped Reforms

With President Bush flip-flopping on whether to support the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, a new report from the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists shows that the person who has blocked many similar changes is Dick Cheney. Specifically, FAS documents that in 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney refused to support many of the same intelligence reforms that the 9/11 Commission is proposing now, including the creation of a director of national intelligence. While the President has offered rhetorical support for creating the director position, top Republican Commissioner Slade Gorton said the White House's actual proposal falls far short of what the Commission recommended.

CHENEY OPPOSED CREATION OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: According to FAS, "In a March 1992 letter to Congress, Defense Secretary Cheney "defended the status quo and objected to proposed intelligence reform legislation, particularly the Director of National Intelligence position." Cheney wrote that proposed intelligence reforms proposed by Congress "would seriously impair the effectiveness" of government and specifically opposed empowering a director of national intelligence. He wrote that such a new office would "assign inappropriate authority" to the new director and said intelligence "must remain under the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense" (i.e. himself).

CHENEY ISSUED VETO THREAT: In his letter, Cheney not only voiced opposition to the plan, but threatened to put the full weight of the first Bush administration behind stopping them. He wrote, "I would recommend that the President veto [the measure] if [it] were presented to him in its current form." As FAS notes, "Cheney's unyielding opposition stifled the first initiative for post-Cold War intelligence reform. As a result, we now face many of the same problems, and the same proposed solutions, more than a decade later."