The IC is nervous. But the Defense Intelligence Agency is the most
nervous, because they're within the Secretary of Defense's swinging
distance ... and they're heavily outsourced, and their programs would be
the first on the chopping block.
The House and Senate intelligence committees are keying off the article to try to persuade Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring to the floor the intelligence authorization act, which she's holding up due to disagreements with the White House about oversight.
"The Speaker is working with the White House and her Congressional
colleagues to ensure that Congress has strong, effective oversight of
the intelligence community," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesperson. If the Speaker wants to put in place the bill's reforms before the recess, she is going to have to act quickly.
For their parts, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kit Bond are moving ahead in a bipartisan fashion, having passed the authorization last week. Tomorrow, they'll hold hearings for James Clapper, the nominee to be director of national intelligence and the man who told Dana Priest that only God had cognizance of all of the special access programs created by the intelligence community. You can bet that the Arkin/Priest series will be the centerpiece of questions about Clapper's intent to reform the community. That said, Congress is not in the best of positions here. They helped to create the national security state ... really, since 1942, if you think about it ... and what Congress wants as "reform" might not match up with the desires of those reading the articles. It will be a very, very interesting hearing.
It's a bit meta to observe this, but the counterintelligence community is breathing easier; Priest and Arkin did not write about secret programs, and their database links agencies to capacities, not to specific locations or companies. But these are open secrets; in the Washington, D.C. area, there are literally tour guides who take people to see the secret sites. You cannot walk down the Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City without walking by a dozen agencies doing highly sensitive work.
For the uninitiated, the government is not very creative about hiding its prized assets. The more anodyne a name, the more important its function. The Space Field Activity in Chantilly, VA? Yawn. The Operational Support Activity at the Naval Research Center in Southwest? Zzzz. You get the picture.
It is a cruel irony that the DNI
press office has been stuck responding to the Priest article while DOD gets to give Congress
papers explaining why DNI isn't allowed to even study electronic waste
practices, make a list of linguists so they know who speaks what language ... and
certainly not figure out contractor issues. (See here.)
CALMEZ-VOUS: Democrats are triumphantly distributing a Gallup generic ballot poll that shows a six point lead for their party. It's a blip or it's something. No way to know. Be skeptical until you see several such polls, and remember that these polls really don't matter much until after Labor Day. How hard a bunch of House Democrats work during recess may well determine whether they can win in their districts. BTW: Watch for another major Nevada poll to show Harry Reid with a lead over Sharron Angle.
START END: The final START hearing is tomorrow, featuring Tom D'Agostino of the National Nuclear
Security Administration, Jim Miller, the principal deputy
undersecretary of defense for policy, and Gen. Kevin Chilton of
STRATCOM. Henry Sokolski, writing on National Review, believes that
the treaty's critics need to get on with the serious business of
identifying what amendments, reservations, understandings, and
declarations, if any, they think the Senate should consider. And Senate
supporters of the treaty need to stop dismissing critics' concerns and
blocking access to information that all sides of the debate need to have.
This prescription ought to be a no-brainer; unfortunately, it's nowhere
close to where we are in the current debate.
This is what puzzles committee Democrats, by the way. They assumed there'd be some opposition. But there isn't. I mean, they think the treaty is sound and all and they want it to pass, but they are genuinely confused about Republican intentions.
THE ENERGY SECRETARY IS A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: The Department of Energy holds its clean energy ministerial meeting tomorrow, and The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal will cover it better than anyone else.
BUSINESS BEAT: Our Daniel Indiviglio will process more housing market info this week as the Census Bureau releases Housing Starts and Permit data for June. Today we learned that builders are pretty pessimistic about new residential construction. Later this week we'll get the National Association of Realtors' Existing Home Sales reading for June. None of it will be pretty. On Tuesday, the Banking Committee will hold a hearing on continuing oversight of international cooperation to modernize financial regulation. This is likely to be an important topic, since U.S. firms could be at a competitive disadvantage if other major nations don't develop financial regulations similar to the Dodd-Frank bill. Witnesses from Treasury, the SEC, and the Fed will testify.RECESS GOODIES
: With the swearing in of Robert Byrd's replacement, the Senate is likely to pass an extension of unemployment insurance despite Republican objections that the extension is not paid for. What follows remains under discussion, though they'll then
likely pivot back to the small business jobs bill in the hopes of securing the
final votes needed for passage this week or next. It's a good thing to bring to recess.BRIEFLY
-- From People's Daily in China:
To mark the second anniversary since Taiwan opened its tourism to
mainland residents, residents from the last six provinces of Inner
Mongolia, Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang are now allowed
to visit Taiwan starting on July 18. And as of now, all mainland
tourists can travel to Taiwan, Guangzhou Daily reported today.
-- What's a Continuity of Operations
-- Microsoft's Cormac Herley believes everything
you think you know about cyber crime is wrong.
-- The Judiciary Committee will hold its vote on Elena Kagan next Tuesday.
-- Still no word from West Virginia on the timing of a special election to replace Robert Byrd.
-- On Wednesday, the Finance Committee brings in all three TARP overseers for a hearing on the program.