There was a fair criticism to make of President Bush on the matter of intelligence. He should have gone about the business of intelligence reform sooner and more aggressively. Sen. Kerry legitimately has made that charge, and had he left it at that, his conduct in the matter could not be gainsaid.
But insisting on legislative passage now, during the full madness of the election season, he has not only shown himself indifferent to wise reform, but has, in fact, increased the risk to the country.
As an experienced Washington player, Sen Kerry knows that to call for the complete reorganization of a vast bureaucracy currently residing throughout the government (Defense, State, Energy, Treasury, CIA, NSA, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, BATF, etc.) is to assure riling the employees and managers of the entire apparatus. The last thing we need between now and the election is to re-inflame battles over defense of turf and career paths for all the men and women on the frontline of our intelligence services.
As we all know, Federal, state and local governments are on high alert during the elections season, and not only because of the Madrid bombing precedent and the recently revealed financial targets in New York and Washington.
Also, intelligence services throughout the West take very seriously bin Laden's taped statement (reported April 26) warning that the coalition partners had until August 15 to withdraw from Iraq or face the consequences. So from mid-August on, we need to be on very high alert. Reportedly, not only Al Qaeda, but assorted other jihadists are said to be planning a wave of terrorist attacks after that deadline in Europe and here.
What a perfectly dreadful moment to throw our entire intelligence apparatus into political convulsions that are inevitably and predictably attendant on a congressional debate over how to re-arrange power and money throughout our intelligence services. John Kerry knew what he was doing -- and he didn't give a damn.
Both candidates are more or less entitled to use harsh language to describe the other chap's shortcomings -- that goes with the territory. But to consciously force legislative action that requires rational policymaking at our least rational legislative moment, and to risk actually distracting (and thereby degrading the effectiveness of) our frontline defenses against possibly imminent terrorist attack is an act of political selfishness that is unforgivable. We can only hope that the event will not occur that would require forgiveness for John Kerry.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.