Pentagon, Republicans kill 9/11 commission bill

When you've been living in a military dictatorship for several years, this kind of thing sends a shiver of recognition:

House Republican leaders blocked and appeared to kill a bill Saturday that would have enacted the major recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission, refusing to allow a vote on the legislation despite last-minute pleas from both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to Republican lawmakers for a compromise before Congress adjourned for the year.


The decision to block a vote on the landmark bill, which would have created the job of a cabinet-level national intelligence director to oversee the C.I.A. and the government's other spy agencies, came after what lawmakers from both parties described as a near-rebellion by a core of highly conservative House Republicans aligned with the Pentagon who were emboldened to stand up to their leadership and to the White House.


The bill would have forced the Pentagon, which controls an estimated 80 percent of the government's $40 billion intelligence budget, to cede much of its authority on intelligence issues to a national intelligence director.


"What you are seeing is the forces in favor of the status quo protecting their turf, whether it is Congress or in the bureaucracy," said Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who was the chief Senate author of the failed compromise bill, in what amounted to a slap at her Republican counterparts in the House.


The chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, Thomas H. Kean, a Republican and the former governor of New Jersey, said that the lawmakers who blocked the vote should be held accountable by the public, and he blamed senior Pentagon officials as well.


"I think there's no question that there are people in the Pentagon who want the status quo, and they fought very hard with their allies in Congress for the status quo," Mr. Kean said.