Bin Laden Tape Refocuses Attention on Intelligence Reform
30 October 2004
The first videotape to appear in more than one year showing
Osama bin Laden threatening new attacks on the United
States is already causing renewed concern on Capitol Hill.
same time, the videotape has thrown more attention on
the failure so far of congressional negotiators to finalize
to reorganize the U.S. intelligence community.
Among criticisms Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
continues to use against George W. Bush in the race for the
White House is that the president's policies failed to find
Osama bin Laden.
Now, a new videotape of the terrorist leader has refocused
attention on the fact that the al-Qaida figure remains free
and able to at least attempt to influence the U.S. election
and threaten Americans.
In his first public reaction to the videotape on Friday, President
Bush said Americans would not be intimidated or influenced
by an enemy of the United States.
We are at war with these terrorists, and I am confident that
we will prevail," said president Bush.
For his part, Senator Kerry said he would stop at nothing
to hunt down terrorists, and continued to criticize President
Bush on his handling of Iraq and the fight against terrorism.
But efforts to prevail depend on reforming the U.S. intelligence
system, based on recommendations of the independent September
11 Commission. On that point, Congress has yet to send the
president final legislation he can sign.
House and Senate negotiators have all but formally declared
dead efforts to reconcile differences between House and Senate
bills to create a new national director of intelligence, among
the more than 40 major recommendations of the commission.
House Republicans were due to submit another proposal to the
Senate on Friday, including some concessions on controversial
provisions that have held up agreement.
a telephone news conference Friday, all acknowledged hope
is gone for
any compromise before November 2, saying a
post-election session, known as a "lame duck" session
of Congress will have deal with the issue.
Senator Joe Lieberman describes failure to reach a compromise
as "a deep disappointment," but
adds any failure to act after the election would be worse,
leave Americans vulnerable to more terrorism:
"What the September 11th Commission has told us are the
vulnerabilities that allowed the terrorists to strike on September
11, and will allow them to strike again unless we better organize
our intelligence assets and community," he said.
Whether President Bush remains in the White House, or John
Kerry wins on November 2, failure to act after the election
would mean the issue might have to be tackled by the new 109th
Congress next year.
Senator Susan Collins, the Republican who
with Senator Lieberman crafted a bipartisan Senate bill,
does not want that to happen.
"I am pessimistic that if we have to start all over again
next year, that we would be successful," said Senator
Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra, says lawmakers will
continue working to ensure that Congress can consider a final
bill in November:
"The four of us are committed to doing everything we
can, from Tuesday through when the lame duck [session of Congress]
ends, to try to make this bill a reality," he said.
Congress' failure to get a final deal on intelligence reform
was not raised in debates between President Bush and Senator
Kerry, being largely eclipsed in the presidential campaign
by events in Iraq and other issues.
As for the Bin Laden videotape, as of late Friday neither
Republican nor Democratic congressional leaders had issued
written public statements through their offices. But against
the backdrop of inaction on intelligence reform, it's certain
to be causing discomfort on Capitol Hill.