Last night (or actually about 1:45AM this morning), the House passed a bill to fund our intelligence operations (CIA, NSA etc.). Disturbingly, several earmarks were slipped into this important national security legislation without the knowledge to most members until the very last moment. Altogether, 26 unclassified earmarks were included totaling around $97 million.
The largest beneficiary of these secret earmarks was none other than Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). One of his earmarks directs $23 million to a drug intelligence center in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He got this pork for his district even though both the Government Reform Committee and GAO have criticized the center for being an unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars. The center’s remote location and the fact that there are 19 other operations just like it have caused these oversight panels to publicly oppose its continued operation. Even drug enforcement officials have been quoted as saying the center is basically “a jobs program that Mr. Murtha wanted for his district.”
Three times yesterday, motions were made to take the House into secret session so that we could discuss any such earmarks and whether they have legitimate merit or are just pork. Three times on near party-line votes, these motions were defeated. Also, an amendment was offered to strip just the Murtha earmark and use the money for more human intelligence resources. That too was defeated. Why? Did the Democrat's not want to open up their earmarks for disclosure even to the rest of us in Congress? How much money will not be spent on real intelligence efforts because of secret earmarks? I guess Rep. Murtha and the Democrat's feel bringing home the bacon is more important than prioritizing and properly using our national security funding.