Stay the Course, George!


All three network news broadcasts ran panicky pieces Friday about how the Congress went on vacation without immediately implementing the suggestions of the 9/11 Commission. The wittiest was ABC's, which showed about 30 seconds of footage of an empty hallway on Capitol Hill. At times like these, with the media calling on the government to Do Something, it's more likely than ever that we'll see the creation of whole new bureaucracies and job titles.

I'll take the members of Congress at their word that they'll be facing "tough questions" from their constituents when they go "back home," but in cases like this one it's the President who really gets the no more business as usual tongue lashings. So high praise to President Bush for not endorsing the 9/11 Commission's most popular suggestion: the creation of a new cabinet-level Inteligence Tsar or Tsarina. Since I'd doubt the crowd around here needs detailed explanations of why creating a new layer of management is never the solution to a problem in government (or for that matter, R&D, military affairs, professional sports, creative arts, live organ donation, or any other field of human endeavor I can think of), I'll just give props to the Prez for holding firm. (Said props, of course, put me under no obligation; I'm sure Bush will knuckle under once the heat comes on and Kerry turns it into a campaign issue.)

NEXT: Forty Years Ago at the DNC

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  1. "props to the Prez" ?? What's next a shout-out for Cheney? Hollarz for your dawg, Ashcroft?

    Are we to put our hands in the air and wave'em like we just don't care on November 2nd?

  2. What ever the problem, the solution from government is so often the same: "We need more tax money and yet more layers of government to "fix" these problems"

    And the cruel irony here is that, as it usually is, the problem has been found to be caused by government in the first place! Note that the 9/11 commission findings reveal:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.

    The evidence is that the tragedy of 9/11 probably wouldn't have occurred but for our government's intervention in the mid-East, specifically its support of the Israeli government's brutal occupation, which is a terribly unethical thing for our government to be doing with our money anyway.

    The best way to keep us safe from terror is to adopt the wise recommendation that Bush made in his foreign policy debate with Gore in the last election: "A more modest foreign policy". (remember, Gore would have none of it.) Of course, that one wouldn't involve an expansion of the government.

    Take into account the Iraq war, whose principle proponents are the neocons, who have long been advocating an attack on Iraq because, in their opinion, it would be good for Israel, and you have irony of truly tragic proportion that rivals anything Shakespeare could have written.

  3. rick barton for president

  4. heh...


    It's not just the size of government that's the main problem, according to Paul Light. The number of executive titles also contribute to the opacity of government making it difficult for even seasoned Washington observers to figure out who does what to whom. And, if it's difficult for Washington regulars to figure these things out, it's impossible for John Q. Citizen to gain a clue. That's one of the conclusions made by Light in a study recently released by the Brookings Institution (PDF)

  5. You know Rick Barton you annoy me no end... all this gabbler about neo-Cons and Israel.

    So here it is, answer me this are YOU a Libertarian, of any stripe or are you just some "Mak_Nas" sort of person, hanging out griping about the state of the world? I'd like to know, do you care about anything but supposed Neo-Con/Jooish Conspiracy to dominate the Middle East? It's something that I wonder about.

    Mind you I am NOT really a Libertarian, merely a Libertarian Conservative, a little to the right of Boortz or Instapundit. You quote Raimondo and "" which IIRC is the home of "Libertaian Anarchy" or the Rothbardians and I just wondered if you shared any other of their traits besides an odd view of world politics?

  6. So high praise to President Bush for not endorsing the 9/11 Commission's most popular suggestion: the creation of a new cabinet-level Inteligence Tsar or Tsarina.

    Presumably this would be to co-ordinate the domestic intel of the FBI and local law enforcement, with the international intel of the CIA. Er... didn't President Bush already do that by creating the Office of Homeland Security?

    But, why make an Intelligence Czar "cabinet-level"? That would just mean that any nominee for the post would need Senate approval. The selection of the I.C. might be politicized even worse than Atty. General or Supreme Court confirmation hearings have become.

  7. Bureaucrateeze never means what it sounds like, but repeat after me:
    How long has the CIA existed?

    But, echoing Tuning Spork, government is not about getting results beyond the result of getting reelected.
    If getting reelected means closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, so be it.

  8. Rick Barton for President of the Phillipines!

  9. The intelligence community is so incredibly fractured that theres no way that short of a massive overhaul of both the DoD, a reincorporation of a bunch of the independent agencies, and a Department of Homeland Security that has actually found itself some goddamned office space to work under one roof, things are going to be just as chaotic and unconnected as they are today. But as long as you have the bureacratic infighting and everyone wanting to hold onto their little fiefdom, your never going to get anywhere near a unified intelligence community.

  10. Stephen Fetchet,

    What happened? You sound like you've had a bit of a relapse since your last post that you addressed to me, in which you admitted that you had misjudged my thinking. Now Stephen, no one wants to hear about an attorney with short-term memory. 🙂

    Opposition to a harmful interventionist foreign policy does not include opposition to free trade. Free trade is beneficial and works to subvert authoritarian societies as well. But there is no indication that it inspires terrorist attacks, in fact, just the indication is just the opposite.

    The evidence, such as that which I cited from the 9/11 commision report, is that we were attacked specifically for our government's support of the Israeli occupation:

    There is evidence that even trade that al Qaeda finds very objectionable is not sufficient to motivate attacks. The chief exporter of pornography into the Arab world is Scandinavia. The Islamic clerics complain, but of course there were no 9/11 attacks on Sweden or Denmark.

    You said a couple things that I'm not sure if you were being serious about but anyway, I certainly defend the right of all Israelis, including the 15 to 20% Arab population to live in Israel. This is my way of saying that "Israel has the right to exist", but people have rights, not states. (I did not address the "Right of return" issue here)

    Although I am not anti-Zionist; I would like to point out that there is obviously an essential difference between anti-Zionists and Jew-Haters. This is illustrated for instance, by the existance of sects of orthodox Jews who are explicitly are anti-Zionist.

  11. Joe L.,

    Yes, I am a libertarian, but I am ok with the label "libertarian conservative" because as Ronald Reagan observed: "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism".

    I believe that government should be limited to protection against force and fraud. I would prefer that this be done with out taxation.

    I'm not sure that I would ever favor anarcho-capitalism but I would love to get close enough to experiment with it, and I wish those folks luck because we need to move in that direction but are actually moving the opposite way at high speed.

    I care about lots of stuff besides foreign policy issues of the Mid-East. Check out my posts on this thread:

    or just google me up.

  12. Well there needs to be some level of interworking and communication between the various fiefdoms of the intelligence community, either through a kind of committee system like they have now, or an upper level analyst group. The problem at the moment is that by the time analysts see the whole picture, and request follow up investigations etc etc, its often too late to do anything other than watch the inevitable unfold. This wasn't a problem when we had one enemy who did things in large, laborious moves, but is completely and utterly unable to keep up with small, quick terrorist cells.

  13. Rick, you are really refreshing to me, because it's nice to hear someone who isn't an avowed statist-leaning-hard-left democrat saying that all of our foreign problems would go away, if we just withdrew our troops from everywhere they are deployed, banned the export of U.S. cultural trappings like Die Hard movies and MacDonalds, and got ridda the Jeeeews. Um, excuse me, that's an insensitive formation. I meant the Zionists living in Israel and Washington and Brooklyn. Big difference between Jew haters and anti-Zionists - one is perfectly acceptable, the other isn't.

    Radical Islam as embodied in Hezbollah, the Iranian Mullahs, the Wahabbist clerics and the likes of Osama bin Laden, have stated that they only want Sharia rule under a new Caliphate in Islamic lands - such lands being defined as "one Muslim lives there, or once lived there, and the land is thereby claimed for Allah."

    What makes you think that preventing an adventurous foreign policy - which after all includes not just troops but free trade and cultural bleedover - will somehow appease them and make them stop hating our motherloving guts? Or for that matter, forgive us for being the moral degenerate, Israel-loving Jew-harboring non-halal-eating scum that we are?

  14. Evan Williams,
    First, your namesake is well-regarded corn squeezin's, but have you ever sipped Ancient Age? I'm a recent convert.
    Lastly, I had never realized, as you suggest, additional layers of bureaucracy are very similar to more spending on public schools: Always jam tomorrow. Never jam today.

  15. "So high praise to President Bush for not endorsing the 9/11 Commission's most popular suggestion: the creation of a new cabinet-level Inteligence Tsar or Tsarina. Since I'd doubt the crowd around here needs detailed explanations of why creating a new layer of management is never the solution to a problem in government."

    I think the knee-jerk libertoid reaction in this statement is overwhelming critical thought.

    The DCI is currently the head of the CIA and the coordinator between the CIA, DIA, NSA, etc etc etc. There's a reason why the Army doesn't just designate the CO of a regiment to also be the CO of the division - there's an inherent conflict between the goal of maximizing the regiment's effectiveness, and the division's. Yet by Tim's logic, having a seperate divisional HQ just adds another layer of bureaucracy to the unit's operations. I have never heard a military person assess the situation this way.

  16. Awww, man, give 'em a break. You guys are just mad cuz YOU probably won't get the nod for the new "Central Master Ultra Super Commander and Lord of All Intelligence" position.

    See, the reason our various "intelligence gathering" beaurocracies are inefficient failures is simply because they lack yet another big commander. It's not, as we had previsouly suspected, that beaurocracies are inherently inefficient failures. It's just that they need another director to direct the directors. Remember how Homeland Insecurity was supposed to fix it? Oh, Tom Ridge was gonna tie it all together! But no, now we need ANOTHER job position, with ANOTHER salary, to tie together everything that Ridge has tied together with whatever everyone else has tied together.

    Why is it that people just can't bring themselves to admit that beaurocracy is inherently inefficient? Do they honestly think that, by magically creating yet another director position, that the big mass of inefficient agencies will suddenly snap into lockstep? Ugh.

  17. "We need a new Agency. In Intelligence. Something to Centralize and coordinate all the existing agencies." - some bureaucrat in 1946 (?) before the creation of the CIA.

    Those who fail to learn the lessons of history. . .

  18. I'm against it.

  19. I wonder why it hasn't occurred to the journalists who harp on Congress leaving town and not reacting to the 9-11 report, that maybe it would be best if members of Congress actually take the time to thouroughly read the report before reacting to it.

  20. joe-

    I'll grant that adding a carefully-designed new position might very well enhance the functioning of the intelligence community. You do make good points about how the CIA director's duties might conflict right now.

    However, I'll oppose any plan that isn't very carefully conceived and explained. My fear is that this will be like the Department of Homeland Security. Does anybody really know what DHS is for? They just took a bunch of pre-existing agencies and put them under the control of the man who gave us the National Mood Ring. Tom Ridge basically goes on TV now and then to issue cryptic warnings and tell us that they're "taking action." Maybe he's doing more behind the scenes, and maybe it's good that these things remain behind the scenes, but maybe it should have been more carefully explained to us before this huge and expensive new department was created.

    So, I'm skeptical that in the current climate a new Intelligence Czar will have a carefully conceived role. In all likelihood he'll be the public figure put there to show that "Dammit, we're doing SOMETHING!"

    Finally, isn't there already a person in charge of coordinating among the various gov't agencies? I believe his title is "President". The Founders even gave him a back-up person, with the title of "Vice-President."

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