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December 01, 2006

Pelosi names ex-Border Patrolman to head Intel Committee

Oh, wonderful.

I'm keeping an open mind about Congressman Silvestre Reyes. Maybe he's a great guy to head the Intel Committee. He did help lead the fight against Sensenbrenner's draconian immigration bill H.R. 4437.

Yet, I can't help but wonder whether he's a defensive symbolic choice to prove that the Democrats are "serious" about interdicting illegal immigrants and drugs--IMO, the two rock-bottom intelligence priorities in the country today.


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I'd never heard of Reyes before two weeks ago, and know nothing about his politics, so I have no idea if he was a good choice.

It seems pretty clear to me, though, that he was the obvious choice, being apparently the most senior member of the committee whom Pelosi doesn't find totally unacceptable for one reason or another. As such, postulating that his elevation was intended to send any sort of signal at all seems unnecessarily baroque.

I agree with Micah. Reyes may have his flaws, but choosing him pretty clearly seems to have been nothing more than a compromise to avoid both Harman and Hastings.

If he has buy-in from Michael Hayden and John Negroponte, and given the infighting in the committee that the first link alludes to, the signal would seem to be "let's get this bullshit behind us and at least look as if we're getting busy on something worthwhile."

It really bothers me if the only thing we as a country can apply our intelligence agencies and Department of Defense to is an extension of our internal political battle. We seem to be toggling between the GOP trying to make it safe for applying torture and lack of due process, and the left's desire to punish the intelligence and defense community for doing so. This will help to leave us crippled as a nation, though it won't be the only thing doing so.

We need a positive plan of action for our defense. We need to admit that continuing to fight the Cold War, World War II, and/or an imaginary fight against terrorists of the future with weapons of mass destruction, in countries like Iraq that posed absolutely no threat and had no plans or means to attack us, has been idiotic. We then need to decide what exactly to do about domestic surveillance and counterterrorism, if we even have a prayer of thwarting domestic terrorism. And though I want torture in Iraq, or by extraordinary rendition, stopped and stopped immediately, rather than content ourselves with merely having our government check the power of our agencies to do such things, it's not enough to check the power of our intelligence and defense. Oversight means listening as well as telling. We need to identify the real threats to our nation's security. They're out there. If all our two political parties seek to do with the intelligence oversight committees, and with our intelligence community, is to score political points by using them to punish those committees and that community, we'll accomplish nothing. We need to put them to work at something as well.

I suggest we put more analysts to work, and more HUMINT (human intelligence, or spies), to finding out about these almost impenetrable terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, and I suggest our intelligence analysts and defense department think outside of the Cold War box. Economic and financial disruptions from Asia, and Middle East terrorist organizations, seem the most ready threat to our security as a nation.

I know, of course, that no-one here is suggesting that we use our intelligence committees for political infighting, but judging from that first link, that's what our House of Congress has been doing with theirs.

--illegal immigrants and drugs--IMO, the two rock-bottom intelligence priorities in the country today.--

Drugs are a self-inflicted wound, but so long as there is the Canute-like effort to stem the tide, there is a real link between drug and national security/intelligence.

Various terrorist groups--the IRA, FARC (in Colombia), and Hezbollah, have links with the drugs trade and with one another. The drugs link is especially strong with FARC.

Drugs is an important priority for intelligence. It could be lessened by legalization/decriminalization for some, but there is minimal support for that in any quarter, so an important priority it must stay. Unless you're going to warrant to me that the aforementioned groups no longer have an involvement in drugs.


If controlling a country's borders isn't an "intelligence priority", then nothing is.

As a Texan I've been aware of Reyes for years, though don't know his record well. My offhand gut reaction is I think he'd be an okay choice - he has credibility on the border issues but is usually a moderate and a pragmatist. He'd also, I think be Texas' only committee chair, which is quite a change from DeLay, et. al.

As head of the El Paso BP division, Reyes presided over Texas' first border wall effort and it worked out badly - not his fault, just a crappy idea he was ordered to implement. That said, I don't follow Congress much and have zero knowledge of his qualifications or views on non-drug/immigration topics.

Anyway, immigration bills go through the Judiciary Committee, not Intel. Everyone please root for Sheila Jackson Lee to get the Immigration subcommittee post on Judiciary (Conyers will chair the main Judiciary committee). That will matter more on immigration than who gets the intelligence slot, IMO, which anyway will focus more of its attention overseas, even though Lindsay's right a wiser administration would engage it's intel resources on domestic and Latin American organized crime.

I think Reyes actually has a blog, btw, though it looks like staffers probably do it.

Good luck with your speaking gig, Lindsay, and best regards,

I think he's just the available choice who isn't Harman (who Pelosi hates) or Hastings (who was impeached for corruption).

I think the selection of a conservative Democrat from a red state to the only chairmanship in the hands of any Rep. from that state, who also happens to be Hispanic, is well-thought-out. It sends a message to red-state Dems, and Hispanics in majority-Anglo states, that the national party respects them and appreciates their support.

Reyes' background with Border Patrol (which on our southern border is heavily staffed by Hispanics/Latinos) is also a reminder that of the two parties, Dems take seriously the part of national security that is connected to controlling our boundaries--and that we can be most effective when we're not being racist and bashing immigrants.

Which is, as they say, Priceless.

I think he's just the available choice who isn't Harman (who Pelosi hates)[...]

Lemme fix this up a little bit:

I think he's just the avaiable choice who isn't Harman (who swallowed every scrap of bogus intelligence about Iraq put out by the White House, and who rallied to the defense of the President's illegal domestic wiretapping)[...]

Much better than inadvertently perpetuating right-wing smears about how it's just a catfight provoked by Ms. Pelosi.

Oh, and Congressman Reyes voted against the Iraq resolution. So he doesn't just scarf down whatever pigshit the administration (or AIPAC) ladles out.

I'm as progressive as you can your blog Lindsay, but I agree with the Phantom on this one...

Controlling ILLEGAL immigration should be considered a major concern.

You're the Philosophy expert...what happens when you apply the "tragedy of the commons" to America, and a huge migration of peoples at one time, or in a short period of time to a new land? America is great, but resources are not finite, in any terms.

Personally, the greatest mistake "liberals" are making where ILLEGAL immigrants are concerned, is the neglect of the fact that Americans are exploiting these poor people for economic reasons...yes, American businesses..which I do not believe are passing on the savings to the rest of us as they say, but regardless, these people are working in poor conditions, for wages that are low, with no insurance in case of accidents. Please don't suggest a change of law is in order, as these people are breaking "the law" to begin with.

The Mexican government has limited standards when it comes to health, and the CDC worries about rising illnesses that America had brought under control and/or eradicated years ago. Increases in crime rate..with no way of knowing who is entering our country; every other "civilized" country requires some sort of standard, such as will you be an asset to society? Who is entering our country, and what is their background?

It's difficult tackling this subject without questioning a person's motivation, or bias in regards to racism, but it can't be viewed from a big heart either. This is a problem affecting America as a country; it's as simple as considering who picks up the tab when illegal aliens visit the hospital ER and leave a $4,000 bill behind, then moves on.

This is a no-brainer.

*make that "resources are not infinite" apologies.

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