March 17th, 2010 by Steven Aftergood
One of the simplest, most effective ways to strengthen congressional oversight of intelligence would be for Congress to make increased use of specially cleared investigators from the Government Accountability Office. This is such a straightforward step towards improving oversight that it was even championed by CIA Director Leon Panetta when he was a Congressman.
But the Obama Administration told Congress on Monday that new language to reinforce the GAO’s role in intelligence oversight was among several provisions in the pending FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act that were objectionable to the White House and that might prompt a presidential veto of the bill.
Phi Beta Iota: It’s time Congress got its act together and soundly spanked the Executive by cutting off all funding for any activity not investigated by the General Accountability Office (GAO). Neither the President nor any of his most senior intelligence advisors have what it takes to keep order in their own house. The various Insprector Generals are cultural and intellectual captives of their respective agencies, and even in the aggregate are incapable of independent investigation with complete integrity–plus most of them have no idea what the “true cost” of anything is, and they focus on process, not outputs (or lack of outputs–government specification cost plus contracting is a prescription for LEGAL fraud, waste, and abuse). For the past fifteen years, ever since Newt Gingrich converted Congress into a winner take all prize and destroyed bi-partisanship, Congress has abdicated its Article 1 responsibilities and every Member serving then and since has betrayed the public trust. This is a no-brainer.
It’s time for Congress to find its soul again. Among the first GAO recommendations might be the complete extraction of the secret intelligence budget from the defense budget and from defense “ownership,” the creation of aTitle 60 national intelligence program as some suggest, and within that, the Open Source Agency recommended on pages 23 and 423 of the 9-11 Commission Report but under diplomatic auspices with civil affairs as the military counter-part.
US secret intelligence produces “at best” 4% of what a senior commander needs to know–right now it is “at best” 96% fraud, waste, and abuse, a massive self-licking Potemkin Village whose only seeming purpose is to keep the harem employed and taxpayer funds flowing for the beltway bandits that offer double-dipping opportunities for officers who mean well but have not grown much as a consequence of doing the same thing each year for thirty years in a row . The President has no idea how bad his intelligence advisors are, and this threat of a veto is a sharp measure of his inadequacy as a leader–he is being spoon fed ideological idiocy, and lapping it up.