The Congressionally-directed 9/11 Review Commission released a report titled The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century, in which it is determined that the budget cuts resulting from the Republicans’ sequestration “severely hindered” intelligence and national security improvements.
The Review Commission is comprised of former Attorney General Edwin Meese (currently associated with the very conservative Heritage Foundation, so Republicans can’t blame bias), former Congressman and Ambassador Tim Roemer, and Professor and counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University. They were tasked to conduct a “comprehensive external review of the implementation of the recommendations related to the FBI that were proposed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the 9/11 Commission).”
The 9/11 Committee found, “It is important to note that sequestration in FY14 severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs.”
Here’s the context per the report, my bold:
“The FBI should align its budget structure according to its four main programs: intelligence, counterterrorism and counterintelligence, criminal, and criminal justice services to ensure better transparency on program costs, management of resources, and protection of the intelligence program.”
Review Commission Finding
In direct response, the FBI adjusted its budget structure to meet the objectives of the recommendation and further consolidated all national security and intelligence programs under the NSB in 2005. In 2014, the FBI further re-aligned its intelligence program by creating the new Intelligence Branch (IB). It is important to note that sequestration in FY14 severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs.
This might be expected from the folks who just attempted to sabotage the President’s nuclear negotiations with Iran by colluding behind his back and refused to fully fund the actual Department of Homeland Security for several months because it looked like a juicy hostage to take over their disagreement on an unrelated matter — after all, who wants to die? Republicans figured if they threatened to close down the DHS, President Obama would have to give in. While it never fully shut down, border security, law enforcement and the President’s Secret Service protections were just a few of the areas impacted by the department not being fully funded.
In other words, Republicans came to play and they don’t care who is put at risk. In fact, the more people they put at risk, the better hostage it is for them. Republicans — harming the homeland since they lost the White House.
This is no small thing. No petty, partisan debate. In 2014, the commission was formed to determine if the FBI had what it needed and was implementing changes recommended for national security. Ironically, it was Congress who directed them to do this and Congress that took away the means to implement the changes post 9/11.
Wait. Before Republicans deny that they were and remain the driving force behind sequestration, allow me to refresh memories, because it was televised. Former Republican Representative Eric Cantor admitted that he and Paul Ryan were the driving force behind sequestration.
Former VP candidate and alleged GOP budget hawk Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been championing sequestration as the Holy Grail since 2004. In fact, Representative Ryan bragged on Fox News that Republicans had gotten everything with sequestration and President Obama nothing, “We actually got discretionary caps in law. I’ve been fighting for these spending caps ever since the day I came to Congress. We couldn’t even get these kinds of spending caps in the Bush administration.”
Here’s a montage of Paul Ryan touting sequestration over time (not a one-off), in which he proudly pronounces that conservatives like him have been fighting for statutory spending caps like sequestration for years:
Ryan: What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money.
Sequestration has long been put forth by Republicans as a “solution” to balancing the budget. Most elected officials would probably not want to harm national security in order to cut the budget willy-nilly, but hey. Sequestration isn’t well thought out- it’s slash and dash, meant to drown the baby with the bathwater.
Perhaps now we can see how foolish simple ideas like this are. Government, whether we like it or not, is a complex organism and the people who came before us had reasons for the way they did things. Only the very immature think an idea like slash and dash would work.
The Republican idea has hurt national security and intelligence. This is not news to anyone with a brain, but it is now the verifiable conclusion of the Congressionally-appointed 9/11 Commission.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.