Passing All the 9/11 Reforms

Since his reelection, President Bush has said he intends to spend his "political capital" to get his agenda through Congress.

One item on that agenda in need of a heavy presidential investment is the post-9/11 reforms, outlined by the 9/11 commission last August. Many of those reforms, such as creating a national intelligence "czar," and reorganizing the nation's 15 intelligence agencies, were passed by the House and Senate in the National Intelligence Reform Act, but are stalled in a conference committee on Capitol Hill, due to the objections of Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R) of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) of California, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Sensenbrenner's committee wrote stronger immigration provisions into the House version of the bill - such as a ban on states' issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Mr. Hunter opposes an an intelligence czar having authority over military-intelligence budgets.

Neither political party should avoid enacting measures that crack down on illegal aliens. Driver's licenses have become a de facto national ID that future terrorists could easily abuse, especially if they are immigrants themselves. (The 9/11 hijackers, although in the US legally, used dozens of different driver's licenses).

The 9/11 commission's report recommended the federal government set standards for the issuance of IDs such as drivers' licenses. The president could use his "capital" to persuade key members of Congress to accept that piece of the legislation.

If a bill doesn't pass before Congress goes home for the holidays, the likelihood of the measure getting any attention on Capitol Hill early next year is remote. The president and the Republican leadership should work to clear the logjam as quickly as possible.

After more than three years and numerous studies since 9/11, the US needs intelligence agencies that communicate better rather than faltering again with "groupthink."

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