By Josh Rogin Friday, April 1, 2011 – Foreign Policy
Upon taking over as the ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) brought on a new staff director with no direct experience working on intelligence matters.
Martha Scott Poindexter has served on Capitol Hill for over 10 years. She has worked as the Republican staff director on the Agriculture Committee since 2005, and before that as legislative director in Chambliss’s personal office.
Previously, according to her LinkedIn profile, Poindexter was the director of government affairs at Monsanto, the agribusiness giant. She studied nutrition at Salem College and holds a Bachelors degree from the Mississippi State University College of Agriculture.
On Capitol Hill, a senior staffer’s effectiveness is measured several factors: by their subject matter expertise, by their ability to get things done, and by their close personal relationship with the boss.
Phi Beta Iota: Penguin, who has served in the senior political ranks of Republican administrations, is not an intelligence professional and therefore has no way of knowing that the appointment makes perfect sense at multiple levels.
1) The SSCI is a side show with zero relevance to oversight of anything–the US Intelligence Community receives ZERO effective oversight and ignores whatever bleats it might deign to acknowledge.
2) The SSCI is a side show with respect to appropriations and authorizations as well–many years have seen no intelligence “authorization” at all because the SASC owns the intelligence budget–at best, the SSCI is a small bleat extra for pork for the Chairman, and insights helpful to investments by the Members.
3) There isn’t actually any real expertise on the SSCI–clerks trying to oversee executive clerks, all of them focused on spending the taxpayer dollar in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with actually serving the public interest.
4) Finally, apart from the Chairman having every right to appoint whomever he pleases to oversee his fiefdom–even a sideshow can be a fiefdom–there is a certain elegance in having an Aggie as Staff Director–who better to ensure the pork of interest to the Members gets properly monitored (2-5% kickbacks on new initiatives is a lot of money). The lunacy continues.