Friday, December 01, 2006

Rush Holt vs. Silvestre Reyes vs. Jane Harman

I think this an issue that is settled, but I think that it needs more scrutiny from the general public, and this reasoning be considered...

Very quickly: Jane Harman is not qualified to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence first and foremost because she was duped by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Hadley and Feith, etc. and she voted for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, in 2002. Both Holt and Reyes voted against it. Further problems with Harman's candidacy for chair, or continued service in the U.S. House, really, have to do with her potential involvement in the AIPAC spy and Cunnigham bribery scandals. Reportedly she is under investigation by the FBI. If she ends up resigning her seat, I think it would be a straightforward thing for Marcy Winograd to win the special election to replace her.

Rush Holt is better qualified to serve the house in an intelligence oversight role, and even if he is not chair, I expect him to continue to be a leader on the real threats posed by abuse of intelligence by the Bush Administration, and real proliferation of nuclear arms and other dangerous weapons and technologies. He called for a Resolution of Inquiry into the Plame leak, which was stalled at the time due to fears that it could compromise Fitzgerald's investigation. Revisiting that now is very appropriate.

So his actions qualify him, but his resume is even better:

Holt graduated with a B.A. in physics from Carleton College in Minnesota and holds an M.S. and a Ph.D in physics from New York University.

Holt served as a faculty member at Swarthmore College from 1980 to 1988 where he taught physics, public policy, and religion courses. During that time, he also worked as a Congressional Science Fellow for U.S. Representative Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania. From 1987 until 1989, Holt headed the Nuclear and Scientific Division of the Office of Strategic Forces at the U.S. Department of State.

From 1989 until his winning congressional campaign in 1998, Holt was the Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton University, the University's largest research facility and the largest center for energy research in New Jersey.[wikipedia]

The major drawback to his appointment as chair of this committee would have come from the fact that he is Quaker, and possibly more hostile to the business interests of the defense industry. The question about Silvestre Reyes is really whether he is too close to some defense contractors. No one questions that his experience as a combat veteran in the Vietnam War and service as a U.S. Border Patrol Agent contribute useful insight into many of the real threats that face our country, but the greatest enemy of the state at this point seems to be the President and his closest advisors. Silvestre Reyes financial dependency on defense contractors might interfere with his ability to see clearly that the solution to the problem in Iraq is not arming Shias vs. Sunnis, or arming the Kurds, but cutting off the flow of weapons into the region until there is stability. If we have some contractual obligation to supply the Iraqi Security Forces with heavy weapons, helicopters of fixed-wing aircraft, we can park that and train them at Peace Prairie with the Texas National Guard, but we can stop flooding the emerging civil war and genocide in Iraq with more and better killing machines.

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