Senate Conferees Not Falling for Cheap Stunt

The New York Times has an article today asserting that the former staff director for the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, now praises recent compromises acceded by the House conferees in the Intelligence Reform Bill and says they are reasonable and reflect the goals of the 9/11 Commission. One problem. The "former staff director" does not speak for the Commission. He's a lone wolf. And the 9/11 Commissioners do not agree with him.

[the memo] prompted a spokesman for the former members of the Sept. 11 commission to distance the former commissioners from Mr. Zelikow. "He's a private citizen, he's not affiliated with the P.D.P.," said Adam Klein, a spokesman for the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the lobbying group set up by the 10 former members. "The commissioners speak for the commissioners and for this organization. Dr. Zelikow speaks for himself."

Even Zelikow admits this:

Told that his memorandum had been made public, Mr. Zelikow said in an interview that he still believed that the Senate provisions for the authority of a national intelligence director were preferable. "Our view has been all along that the Senate language is preferable," he said. But he said the latest compromise being offered by House Republicans was "extremely forthcoming" and suggested that a final bill might be near. "My analysis was not an official commission analysis," he said. "It was the opinion of former commissioner staffers offered as opinion."

How did the memo find it's way to the Times in the first place? It began as an e-mail to senate staff members and was leaked to the Times by a Republican House Conferee, Duncan Hunter of California.

Sleazy move. By the way, you can view the true feelings of the 9/11 Commission on this turkey of a House bill in this letter by former 9/11 Commission Chair Thomas Keen (pdf).

As ACLU Director Anthony Romero said Tuesday,

"This administration seems determined to increase the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies with nothing more than a token nod to the civil liberties that are an essential part of our free society."

It should be the Senate bill or nothing. More, from the ACLU Tuesday:

The ACLU said that the 9/11 Commission should be applauded for avoiding the easy – and wrong – scapegoat of civil liberties and human rights protections for intelligence failures. According to the Commission, pre 9/11 intelligence failures were, largely, failures of analysis and information-sharing. These failures were not the result of legal restrictions that are designed to protect civil liberties, but instead resulted from a culture and bureaucracy that horded information.

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