- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

American intelligence agencies are not providing adequate information for Congress to make policy decisions on key foreign-policy areas including Iran and North Korea, according to the top House Republican on the issue.

“We still don’t have the intelligence community overall to give us, as policy-makers, the information that we need to make good decisions in North Korea, Iran and other places,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

When told by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that he was making a “pretty striking indictment” of the intelligence community, Mr. Hoekstra said, “Well, it is.”

Mr. Hoekstra blamed the bureaucratic leadership in the intelligence community for what he said are delays in implementing necessary reforms after September 11 and intelligence failures in Iraq.

“We’ve had problems in standing this up and developing more bureaucracy, and it’s a concern about the leadership in the intelligence community, not the folks who are working this 24/7,” he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and her party’s second-ranking member on the intelligence panel, acknowledged the difficulty of obtaining workable intelligence from Iran and North Korea, but praised the administration for diplomatic progress with both regimes.

“I am very pleased to see the shift in the administration,” she said during her own appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “When Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice came before the Senate Appropriations Committee and talked about this regional summit in which the United States would take part and the G-8 nations, I think that’s exactly the way to go, to bring the light of day and the preponderance of nations into this effort.”

Meanwhile, several leading Democrats said they are building support for a bill that would overturn the original Iraq war resolution. Still, they remain short of the 60 votes necessary to block a Republican filibuster.

“If we can focus on this purpose — keeping American troops out of the middle of a civil war with the understanding that there needs to be a limited mission that remains after that — I believe we can get almost all the Democratic votes, plus we can pick up some Republican votes,” said Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We want to change it, to have a much more narrow focus,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “We have a very broad consensus. We’re hoping to get close to unanimity, like we did on the surge resolution, that requires the president to change that mission.”

However, one leading U.S. commander said the surge was showing progress and could be completed within a year.

“We’re starting to see some progress, but it’s very slow,” Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq, said in an interview with CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“I think that will take some time. I don’t want to put an exact time on it but a minimum of six to nine months.”

Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, told ABC that the various resolutions to force a withdrawal of U.S. forces or the troop “surge” are just represent “Congress trying to micromanage the situation.”

“When the going gets tough, they’re trying to figure out how to get out. And they can’t get their act together on how to defund the troops, so they’re having all these different approaches. … I mean, they can’t get it together.”

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