What is it with these top-dog Republicans and breakfast?
We recently pointed out (Bush Beat, August 10) that House Intelligence chair Porter Goss was serving grits in D.C. to hijacker Mohammed Atta‘s bagman just as the planes were smashing into us on 9/11. Now Goss is going to be the new CIA director.
The old CIA director, George Tenet, was sharing omelettes on 9/11 with his mentor, former Oklahoma senator David Boren. Tenet was the staff chief on the Senate Intelligence Committee when Boren headed it.
Now it turns out that when Maine senator Susan Collins, a Republican herself, dared to criticize Don Rumsfeld during hearings about Abu Ghraib, he immediately dropped her from his hallowed list of Pentagon breakfast invitees. (That factoid was reported August 10 by The New York Times‘ Sheryl Gay Stolberg.)
Collins is chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which supposedly oversees IT and homeland security. She made her political bones as a long-time staffer to Senator Bill Cohen, who was the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the late ’80s and later was Clinton‘s secretary of defense. (Come back here to read a bizarre rap from Cohen in ’97 about “phantom moles” and eco-weapons.)
This all means that we’re sure to get to the bottom of the country’s intelligence failures—the top members of the club are investigating themselves.
What’s Rumsfeld worried about? One of the key people Collins is leaning on is America’s favorite Rasputin, Henry Kissinger, the guy who Bush originally named to “probe” 9/11. This is how the Times‘ August 10 story put it:
[Collins] has also been consulting elder statesmen as she wrestles with questions like whether putting the intelligence director inside the White House, as the commission urges, could lead to spying for political gain. One of her first calls was to Henry A. Kissinger, national security adviser to President Richard M. Nixon and then his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger, she said, has “seen a White House where there was abuse.”
Now that guy eats Chile for breakfast. So why would this White House be so antsy about Collins? Stolberg pointed out that New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg complains that Collins has repeatedly refused his pleas to hold hearings on the Halliburton contract scandal.
In the meantime, take your time with your own breakfast. Have another cup of coffee while they “reform” the intelligence establishment.