August 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Congress: Intelligence Issues: 911: Hearst News Services: Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on "a part, not the whole."

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Archived Stories: August 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Congress: Intelligence Issues: 911: Hearst News Services: Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on "a part, not the whole."

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-239-147.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.239.147) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 10:44 am: Edit Post

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on "a part, not the whole."

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on a part, not the whole.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on "a part, not the whole."

Congress protecting its turf on terror oversight
Despite calls to pare back their 88 panels, lawmakers 'jealously guard' their jurisdiction
By JUDY HOLLAND
Hearst News Services

WASHINGTON - Recommendations by President Bush and the 9/11 commission that Congress pare back its 88 panels that oversee national security are crashing into what lawmakers hold most dear: turf.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nearly three years ago, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been eager to chime in on the popular hot-button issue of keeping the country safe from terrorists.

Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, created nearly two years ago to hold hearings on 9/11 issues, complained that it hasn't worked well because chairmen of other committees "jealously guard" their jurisdiction and hold competing hearings.

Turner said too many voices actually defeat the purpose of congressional oversight.

"When you are accountable to 88 different committees, you're really accountable to no one," Turner said.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said the overabundance of committees and subcommittees focused on 9/11 issues is confusing because each panel focuses on "a part, not the whole."

But efforts to pare committees back will create a "knock-down, drag-out fight," he said.

"The chairmen have their own little armies," Shays said. "You can almost think of them as Afghan warlords."

Critics said that while Congress is quick to point out flaws in the intelligence community and work out plans to overhaul it, it is slow to address similar problems of its own.

Since the Department of Homeland Security was formed in March 2003, combining 22 agencies concerned with border security, intelligence and emergency response, Congress has called Secretary Tom Ridge 16 times to testify and his top officials have testified 344 times, according his staff. Fifteen hearings on 9/11 matters have been scheduled this month, which is rare in August, traditionally the time for summer recess.

"We've gone too far, we've created too many committees," conceded Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. "It's ridiculous for all these administrators to be up there all the time."

The job of whittling down committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over national security issues will fall to leaders of both chambers, but it is a politically treacherous task likely to alienate powerful members. Election year polls have shown that national security issues could be decisive.

John Feehery, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., defended the status quo, saying the many committees with oversight over national security and counterterrorism "reflects the complexity of the issue."

"It's like having different people look at the same thing in a different way. We will do what we can to consolidate, but also make sure that we're not compromising our oversight ability," Feehery said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., plan to form a working group on the matter in September.

The 9/11 commission report, released last month, said "congressional oversight for intelligence and counterterrorism is now dysfunctional."

President Bush echoed the commission's concern last week, saying "there are too many committees with overlapping jurisdiction, which wastes time and makes it difficult for meaningful oversight and reform."





When this story was prepared, this was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.





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Story Source: Hearst News Services

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Fiji; Congress; Intelligence Issues; 911

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