Intel on Intel

Posted November 17, 2004 at 6:14pm

Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) indicated Wednesday that he wants to remain at the helm of that panel.

Roberts said he “had a lengthy talk” with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) about the issue and implied to reporters that he was interested in overseeing any intelligence-agency reforms that Congress may pass this year or next. [IMGCAP(1)]

“If you feel like you’ve cleaned up the stables a bit, you’d like to be there to rebuild the stables,” Roberts said.

Indeed, Roberts presided over a lengthy investigation into the faulty intelligence used by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Roberts, who is also in line to take over the Agriculture Committee, was originally slated to move off Intelligence because of Senate term limits for Members. Those term limits were eliminated earlier this year, meaning Roberts needed to express a preference to Frist.

Meanwhile, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he would resign from the Intelligence panel if Congress did not pass legislation creating a new national intelligence director.

Lott complained that the CIA currently gives him the run-around when he tries to ask them oversight questions. A national intelligence director, he said, would be more answerable to Congress.

“If we’re not going to do real oversight, I’m getting off of Intelligence,” said Lott. “We should be able to ask the NID and get a straighter answer.”

Everybody Together Now. Prompted by newly deployed random traffic checkpoints on Capitol Hill, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has called for monthly security meetings between Congressional and city law enforcement officials.

In a Wednesday letter addressed to Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle and House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood, Norton criticized the new checkpoints, asserting that city officials received no notice about the program, which replaced more than a dozen Capitol Police traffic stops dismantled last week.

“Pop-up checkpoints have ramifications for several agencies of the D.C. government, including emergency services and vehicles. Requiring the city to act almost instantaneously is dangerous and unfair,” Norton wrote.

The Delegate said city and Congressional officials agreed to the monthly meetings, as well as the creation of a citywide security plan, in August but have yet to convene.

The letter comes on the heels of statements Norton made to Roll Call on Nov. 10, when she expressed support for the random traffic stops. “I think random checkpoints are always in order, as long as they are few in number and don’t give the impression that you’re in the battle zone,” she said.

— Emily Pierce and Jennifer Yachnin