National Journal reports (in a subscriber-only bulletin) that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) snuck a $23 million earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center into the intelligence bill the House is considering, to the irritation of fiscal conservatives such as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). What's the National Drug Intelligence Center? Charles Oliver explains:
In 1990, the Bush administration called for the creation of a National Drug Intelligence Center "to consolidate and coordinate all relevant law enforcement information related to drug trafficking and provide a strategic picture of drug smuggling and distribution organizations." But the proposal changed a bit as it made its way through the legislative process. Instead of coordinating information, the new center will duplicate the functions of 19 existing drug-intelligence centers. And instead of setting up shop in the corridors of national power, it is located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, an economically depressed town of 35,000 best known for its floods. Rep. John V. Murtha, Democrat of Johnstown, explains the location this way: "That's where I wanted it." He adds that the move saves taxpayers money, since rents are lower in Johnstown than in Washington.
But it's not true that this low-rent operation has produced nothing of value. It did give us an entertaining 2001 report in which the NDIC was shocked to find people talking about drugs online, and not always in government-approved ways.