Like me, many Americans are spending this week buying the last-minute pencils, backpacks and school clothes our kids need as they head back to their classrooms.
As we are busy with this important task, I hope we don't forget about a threat that is looming 3,000 miles away. One year ago this month, the House Intelligence Policy Subcommittee, which I chaired, issued a report warning that "despite its claims to the contrary, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons."
[Note: even for me, it's tough to muster enough snark to properly address that opening line.]
Also included in Mr. Rogers' What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay are tidbits like
According to press reports, Iran could have 8,000 centrifuges by January. And the theocratic government in Tehran has said it plans to construct up to 50,000 centrifuges.
Interesting word choices here: "seeking," "could have," and "plans to". Well, I'm seeking to eat less ice cream. According to press reports, my husband could have booked us a flight to a tropical island. And my teenagers have plans to stay home and clean the garage on Saturday night. Hey, it could happen!
Once the vague scary outline is established, Mr. Rogers goes on to conveniently blame everyone else for this supposedly dire situation. He gives the U.S. intelligence community a couple of spanks for being too lily-livered to deal with the rough-and-tumble of manly politics
Although I have seen some improvements over the last year in intelligence analysis of WMD questions, I am afraid that the aftermath of the Iraq WMD intelligence failures has left some intelligence agencies and analysts reluctant to stick their necks out and draw clear conclusions on controversial subjects. This reluctance is dangerous to America's national security, since it could delay or prevent crucial information from reaching policymakers.
Before 9/11, intelligence analysts lacked much of the information needed to connect the dots. Now, I am afraid they have the dots but are afraid to connect them for the fear of being run out of town for political reasons. [skip]
U.S. intelligence analysts didn't like Congress double-checking its Iran analysis. This was not surprising, since not only did we find some of their assumptions about Iran had little or no justification, we also saw clear indications of reluctance by U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA to draw analytic conclusions on issues they viewed as political hot potatoes.
Ooooookay. We'll skip over the inconvenient point that professional intelligence analysts aren't supposed to let domestic political considerations influence their analyses. Sounds like the intel community has drawn clear conclusions -- they just aren't lining up with Mr. Roger's efforts to promote Bush's Iran plan.
Anyone else for Mr. Rogers to blame? Of COURSE there is!
While Congress wastes time on scoring political points, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and backing terrorists, North Korea continues its nuclear-weapons program, and attacks by radical Islamists are taking place across the globe from London to Islamabad.
It has been a great disappointment that instead of focusing on strong oversight of our policy on Iran, Al Qaeda or Iraq, the House Intelligence Committee throughout this year has focused instead on a National Intelligence Estimate to study climate change, as well as whether or not the attorney general was conscious or unconscious when he made a decision in 2004 and words in the president's 2003 State of the Union address.
Oh, those crazy kids in Congress! Paying attention to things like upholding the Bill of Rights (which is, I believe, the purview of the Judiciary Committee rather than Intelligence) and climate change while the shadowy Iranian threat lurks around the corner. What makes them think they can walk and chew gum at the same time?
Reality check, Mr. Rogers: You have served on the House Intel committee since you got to Congress in 2000. You chaired the subcommittee on Intelligence Policy. The GOP control of Congress ended less than a year ago, so stop pointing fingers and accept some responsibility for the decisions that were made on your watch.
This administration has botched our mission in Afghanistan. This was the one place we needed to be, and though we had started to make positive changes the diversion of troops, funds and supplies to Iraq ruined our chances of making Afghanistan a truly free and functioning country. A Reuters article in this morning's NY Times notes that "Violence has been surging in the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban's removal from power in 2001."
This administration has botched our mission in Iraq. Plenty of people have argued the finer points of this one. Either way, the utter lack of planning and the abundance of spectacularly bad decision-making has ensured that our troops are overcommitted and under-supported as they valiantly fight and die for... politically-motivated goalposts that keep moving.
This administration is ignoring the very real terrorist threat around the world as it chases the next Designated Bad Guy. Guess what? State-sponsored terrorism ain't what it used to be -- it pales in comparison to the growing leagues of home-grown bad guys. Just check a few recent news stories: Three Terror Suspects Arrested in Germany (2 of whom are German citizens), Seven held in Danish terror raids (all of whom were Danish citizens) and a Canadian citizen was arrested for his role in a British bombing conspiracy.
Mr. Rogers neatly ends his fearmongering and finger-pointing with another tug on the ol' heartstrings, saying that "Congress needs to address the Iranian threat. As a parent myself, I don't want my children's future threatened by problems we've left unresolved."
Well, I'm a parent, too and I wholeheartedly concur with that last sentence. Too bad Mr. Rogers and the rest of the cheerleading squad aren't paying attention to the real threats to our futures.