The mission of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is to conduct its duties in a way that will “ensure the integrity of the intelligence system, our technology, our armed forces, and our government’s decision processes.”
But instead of being an independent voice with the best interests of the intelligence community, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell has allowed the Bush administration to put him in the “unusual role of intelligence community lobbyist.” The LA Times reports:
McConnell’s role as the Bush administration’s point person on espionage legislation is particularly unusual. U.S. intelligence chiefs have periodically been at the center of political storms over botched spy operations or pitched nomination fights. But they have traditionally been expected to remain insulated from policy issues, not to function as administration lobbyists on controversial pieces of legislation.
McConnell has repeatedly put out inaccuracies that do nothing but further the Bush administration’s agenda by fear-mongering. Some examples:
— Last September, McConnell tried to tie the capture of three Islamic militants accused of planning bomb attacks in Germany to the new expanded FISA law. However, one government official revealed that those intercepts were recovered last year under the old law, which required warrants. McConnell was later forced to admit that he had misled lawmakers.
— In an interview last August with the El Paso Times, McConnell claimed that Americans, particularly in Iraq, would “die” simply because of the debate over expanding Bush’s powers to wiretap American citizens without court oversight because terrorists would learn more about U.S. capabilities.
— In February, McConnell sent a letter to Congress stating that the country “is now more vulnerable to terrorist attack and other foreign threats” because lawmakers refused to renew the White House’s version of the Protect America Act, which included immunity for telecoms.
McConnell is not the first independent figure the Bush administration has been accused of turning into a mouthpiece. Last year, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) charged that the White House had been using Gen. David Petraeus as a prop to “purely make political statements.”
In a recent speech at Furman University, McConnell charged that during the recent intelligence debate, some senators said that “we shouldn’t have an Intelligence Community” or that Bush “should be impeached and should go to jail.” Today, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) wrote McConnell a letter accusing him of distorting the debate and calls on him to back up his assertions.