Nancy Pelosi's Intelligence Problem
December 12, 2006
NANCY PELOSI'S INTELLIGENCE PROBLEM
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has an intelligence problem. Her pick for the crucial chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes, turned out not to know basic facts about Al Qaeda, facts that most well-informed newspaper readers would know.
Pelosi picked Reyes because she clashes with the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, LA Congresswoman Jane Harman, who is widely recognized as an intelligence expert. Her alternate pick, Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings, though backed by the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, proved to be untenable on account of his having been one of the few federal judges impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate for malfeasance in office. (Both the House and Senate were controlled by fellow Democrats when it occurred, in 1989, on overwhelming votes.)
Many suggested that Pelosi go back to Harman or go off the committee to find an intelligence chair. But Pelosi disdained Harman for her early, along with most of the country, backing of the Iraq War, even though Harman has become quite critical of the Iraq policy. The two don't get along.
Besides, in the way of internal Democratic politics, if she could not please one constituency, African Americans, she could please another, Latinos. So she went with Reyes, by most accounts an affable fellow and a champion of liberal immigration policies.
I've been reporting that Reyes, a Texas Democrat who was in the Border Patrol for 27 years, is not, shall we say, highly regarded among foreign policy and intelligence experts. A “timeserver” on the committee, as I quoted one intelligence expert on a few occasions.
But it's actually worse than I thought. Reyes proved unable to answer some very basic questions in an interview with Congressional Quarterly. As you will see, he seems to have less basic understanding of key elements of his job than any well-informed newspaper reader would have.
Chairman Reyes does not know the religious makeup of Al Qaeda. Nor does he know the makeup of Hezbollah, which merely fought a war with Israel earlier this year. He actually believed that Al Qaeda includes Sunnis and Shiites, the two fundamental rival sects of Islam. Actually, he thought Al Qaeda is mostly Shiite, which is not only wrong, but horribly wrong. A Shiite would not last long in Al Qaeda. (They're Sunnis, of course, which is why so many of the 9/11 bombers were Saudis. Iran is Shiite, which is why the Saudis say they may intervene when the US withdraws from Iraq.) For someone who has spent years — or “served time,” as my source had it weeks ago as he typed the congressman as a typical political hack — on the House Intelligence Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, to have this level of ignorance is astounding.
“It's hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories,” Reyes said, somewhat plaintively.
Harman may be a brusque at times, and undoubtedly reminded Pelosi on more than a few occasions of her intellectual credentials, but even when she is wrong, she knows what she is talking about. And, unlike Pelosi's first alternative to Harman, Alcee Hastings, she didn't lose a federal judgeship for malfeasance in office.
Then there is the matter of Reyes' views. Pelosi's position has been to back a fairly prompt pullout from Iraq. Hence her failed championing of Congressman John Murtha for House majority leader. Murtha criticized the Iraq Study Group report for keeping a major American presence — albeit not a combat presence — in Iraq.
At a Saturday speech in San Francisco, Pelosi said her first priority would be to bring the troops out of Iraq. But Reyes seems to be going in another direction. It turns out that, although he voted against the Iraq War, he actually now says that he favors sending tens of thousands of additional US troops into Iraq to disarm the various militias. How this is at all coherent with where Pelosi and Murtha are — and ironically, this places Reyes well to the right of the disdained Harman on Iraq — is completely unclear.
Then there is the matter of Reyes and family ties to a major government contractor providing national security services.
Reyes, of course, voted against the 700-mile border fence enacted in the last Congress and signed into law by President Bush. Instead, he backs the “virtual fence” idea. By an odd coincidence, the new House Intelligence Committee chairman's daughter is vice president of contracts for a firm that provides these surveillance services. The firm won a huge government contract that, according to the Washington Post, was poorly performed. Reyes' son also has worked for the firm.
A dreadful situation
Republican Party of Los Angeles County
1901 W. Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, CA 91506
Press and Speaking Inquiries: email@example.com
Copyright © 2000-2013 Republican Party of Los Angeles County. All Rights Reserved.
Paid for and authorized by the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.