Current Events 12/08/04
Well, I was thinking of ways to get back in touch with the ever ongoing campaign, so I figured I'd do an update covering some of today's most recent events. Maybe offer a Libertarian perspective. These updates will be infrequent at best but I'll try to come back once in a while and do them.
Senate Preparing to Pass Intelligence Bill:
As you can probably tell, I am against the passage of this bill. The Sept. 11th commission concluded that disharmony between our 15 or so intelligence agencies impaired our ability to fight off the attacks, so it recommended the formation of new, powerful central bureaucracy to coordinate them. I am skeptical of this approach. For one, fighting decentralized cell-based terrorism is a specific job and only a few departments are actually capable of that, organizing them through a highly visibility central office is not a great idea, politically or pragmatically, however that's more a criticism of the Department of Homeland Security in the whole.
My particular problems and observations with this bill are numerous, so I'll try to sum them up as I go.
Sec. 1001. Director of National Intelligence:
I fail to see the relevance of this office. Seems like another high-paying government position that could otherwise simply be merged within the existing offices. I believe the various intelligence briefings wouldn't overwhelm the President and Congress if they weren't overwhelming themselves with other pointless legislation. A lot of this new office duties is advising the creation of budgets and finances, which sounds to me like this person is going to be playing with money more than he is helping out any national intelligence. Most of the matters of efficiency should be being handled directly within their intelligence agencies, and mainly, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Consultation agents complicate intelligence because they don't DO anything. They don't supervise any particular department, just "all" of them.
Sect. 1011. Civil Liberties Protection Officer:
This new bureaucracy is obviously created with a scope to be potentially oppressive. So they are gonna give a guy a job to be the Civil Liberties Protection Officer! Isn't that an admission that you are gonna create problems with this new agency? Anyways, all this guy gets to do is start "investigations". Boy, I'm glad this guy has a lot of power!
Sec. 1012. Broadening the term National Intelligence:
I prefer to keep terms limited and defined. This allows the President to define "National Intelligence" as it is used throughout this bill, widening the powers he is able to grant to this new intelligence structure. I don't see it as necessary in the least.
Sec. 1013. Department of Defense & CIA Joint Ops:
This provision outlines the cooperation of senior Defense/CIA officials to work together in joint operations. The existence of this part of the bill signifies that they do not already, or that they need to be mandated to do so. I think that if the CIA and Department of Defense can't coordinate without this bill, then their existing policies need to be rewritten, not merged via a new third party.
Sec. 1031. Joint Intelligence Community Council:
See, if you are having the intelligence community gather anyways, why establish the new third leg oversight agency? That they gather to discuss intelligence is the purpose, it needs no catalyst.
Sec. 1061. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board:
This is a sample of some of the core provisions of the bill. FBI "improvements" and extended powers, especially in transportation, are the signature of this bill. I can see nothing really effective or world-changing about it, besides that it is spendy and possibly complicates many key areas of intelligence.
Labor Party Unites with Israel's Ariel Sharon on Withdrawal Plan:
Possibly ending years of dispute, Israel is prone to fully pull out of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, much to the dismay of Palestinians who don't mind having Israeli children, families and police around to throw stones at and car bomb. The Labor Party was the last major group to dispute the move, on the grounds that many Israeli settlements will need to be pulled back, but the sensibility of the plan shined through.
Cynics will criticize Israel for it's viciousness in dealing with uprising Palestinian communities, however that's a different rant for a different time. I can say with Arafat out of the way, Israel might finally be able to get some peace, at least on it's side of the border. The Palestinians won't let it last long, however.
UN Lets Sudan Sit on Human Rights Commission Panel
Sudan, who committed mass genocide in it's western Darfur province, is sitting alongside the US on the UN's human rights commission, getting it's say in what human rights should be. The ever anti-American panels at the UN often let nations like the Sudan join up just in spite of US sensibilities, but we continue to tolerate it. The policy was defended by Kofi Annan, just as was the fraudulent Oil for Food program that paid off his son. We are still members of the UN and our armed forces are it's peacekeeping bite. This recent point of policy criticism is just one of many reasons illustrating why a membership on it's panels and even it's organization is eroding our international diplomacy. How can we get together to talk about human rights when genocidal regimes are allowed on the panel?
Then again, many nations in the UN hold a resentment for the US, and those detractors are quick to point out recent war actions in cynical critique of our objections. And of course the UN is still harping in our ear about our death penalty, as if the French complaining wasn't bad enough... they'd rather boot the US from the panel for having a death penalty for extremely heinous crimes than booting off the Sudanese for killing off tens of thousands in outright ethnic cleansing. To equate the two is absurd, but that's what you get when dealing with the UN.
Well, that's it for current events, it's kinda a slow time right now. I hope to update again with my thoughts in the near future.