Cheney opposed intelligence reform in 1992

By Stephen W. Stromberg

Published August 5, 2004 7:05PM (EDT)

It should not be a surprise President Bush seemed reluctant to put his weight behind the 9/11 Comission report's recommendations. After all, when the same recommendations came before Congress during the first Bush administraition, it was Bush family friend Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, who shot them down. David Sirota from the Center for American Progress is circulating an article today from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) about a letter Cheney sent to Congress in 1992 arguing against an overarching federal intelligence chief, one of the 9/11 report's most significant proposed reforms. From the FAS piece:

"In a March 1992 letter to Congress, Secretary Cheney defended the status quo and objected to proposed intelligence reform legislation, particularly the DNI position. 'The roles of the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence have evolved in a fashion that meets national, departmental and tactical intelligence needs,' Cheney wrote. The intelligence reform proposals 'would seriously impair the effectiveness of this arrangement by assigning inappropriate authority to the proposed Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who would become the director and manager of internal DoD activities that in the interest of efficiency and effectiveness must remain under the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense,' he wrote.Secretary Cheney successfully torpedoed the initiative with his warning that 'I would recommend that the President veto [the measure] if [it] were presented to him in its current form.'...Cheney's unyielding opposition stifled the first initiative for post-Cold War intelligence reform. As a result, we now face many of the same problems, and the same proposed solutions, more than a decade later."

A decade later, it appears the Bush administration will buckle under political pressure and the country will get a DNI.

Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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