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Is Roberts' intel committee broken?
Is the Senate Intelligence Committee - under the stewardship of Sen. Pat Roberts - broken?That's the question posed over the weekend by The Washington Post and The New York Times.First, [link] ">The Times:Set up three decades ago with special rules to avoid partisan battles over sensitive national security policies, the Senate Intelligence Committee today rarely manages to do anything on a bipartisan basis. The breakdown, which some attribute to senators' personalities and some to staff members' taste for political combat, is a development that past committee chairmen of both parties call deeply disturbing."Really, politics should stop at the door of that committee," said former Senator Warren B. Rudman, a New Hampshire Republican who served on the committee in the early 1990's. "I don't know whether Roberts is right or (Democratic Sen. Jay) Rockefeller (the committee vice chairman) is right. But I do know that when you lose bipartisan oversight by that committee, you lose something very, very important."The partisan standoff has had practical consequences. Though the committee managed to complete a well-regarded investigation of flawed intelligence on Iraq's weapons, it has been stalled for months over the completion of the second phase of that inquiry, which examines how policy makers used the intelligence.Even as the American news media and European parliaments have produced report after report on the Central Intelligence Agency's handling of terror suspects, the committee has held no hearings on the topic and conducted no formal investigation.This week, in party-line 8-to-7 votes, the committee rejected the Democrats' call for a full committee investigation of the eavesdropping program and adopted a Republican plan for a seven-member subcommittee to conduct oversight.[The Post adds:]_The Senate intelligence committee, once a symbol of bipartisan oversight, is now so torn by partisan warfare that it can barely function in a time of sharp national debate over intelligence matters, according to several analysts, officials and past and current members.Bit by bit, however, the panel's brotherly spirit dissipated. People who have followed it cite several key turning points.In 1997, the GOP-led panel thwarted president Bill Clinton's nominee to be CIA director, Anthony Lake, using stalling tactics that some felt were overtly political. "Washington has gone haywire" in partisanship, Lake fumed. Clinton decried a "cycle of political destruction."__The Iraq war has accelerated the fracturing, with Democrats and some outside groups saying Republicans seemed more eager to control GOP political damage than to conduct independent oversight. In November 2003, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) abruptly canceled the committee's hearing into prewar intelligence on Iraq because of GOP anger over a leaked memo -- written by a Democratic aide -- that suggested a strategy for extending the probe more deeply into the executive branch._In an interview last week, Roberts cited the 2003 leaked memo and the (November) Senate shutdown as evidence that Democrats are at least as culpable as Republicans for the partisan bickering. Democrats, meanwhile, note that the committee still has not completed the inquiry's long-promised second phase.More to come, we're sure.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.] : <a href="http://www.yahoo.com : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/11/AR2006031101029.html : http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed