McCain and Obama differences on intelligence


John McCain and Barack Obama agree that the next president needs to shake up U.S. spy operations. That’s where the similarity ends.

Whoever wins Nov. 4, the next president must overhaul a $47.5 billion intelligence effort, spread through 16 agencies, that’s still struggling seven years after failing to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks and six years after wrongly concluding that Iraq had WMD.

The latest challenge involves revamping a 2004 law that was supposed to repair flaws exposed by 9/11 and Iraq, national security analysts say. The law established a new office led by a director of national intelligence, or DNI, to oversee the CIA and other intelligence operations. So far, the law has added a layer of bureaucracy without giving the director – currently former NSA Director Mike McConnell – enough authority over agencies’ budgets, national security analysts say.

“The DNI is still very much a work in progress, and a lot people are thinking it’s not working,” says Mark Lowenthal, former CIA assistant director for analysis and production. The next president must get it right, because U.S. spies face an array of threats besides terrorists and hostile countries like Iran and North Korea, advisers from both campaigns say.


TSA meets initial passenger aircraft cargo screening goal

From HS Daily Wire:

It’s not everyday that a government agency beats a Congressional deadline, but TSA just has.¬† Congress mandated through the 9/11 law that 50 percent of cargo on passenger carrying aircraft be screened by February 2009 and 100 percent of cargo be screened by August 2010; And now, four months before the first deadline, TSA says it’s¬†currently screening all cargo on more than 90 percent of all passenger carrying aircraft in the U.S.

DHS and Congress at odds over cargo scanning mandate

A war of words has broken out between the House Homeland Security Committee and DHS over the mandate to screen 100 percent of U.S.-bound cargo at foreign ports.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson sent Secretary Michael Chertoff two letters in recent months chastising DHS for not living up to the mandate.

On Oct. 3, Chertoff responded with a five-page letter that made clear that the 100 percent screening mandate outlined in the 9/11 Commission recommendations legislation is extremely problematic, both because of the limitations of technology and complications in dealing with sovereign nations, and will be impossible to implement by the 2012 deadline.