Saturday, September 3, 2011

Title 60, now more than ever

Washington has been recycling for decades. Government officials and think tank analysts readily recycle their favored but ignored proposals whenever some new development provides a "hook" for publicizing them. The practice usually involves saying that whatever just happened shows we need to adopt their ideas "now more than ever."

Since I am not immune to this disease myself, let me cite the Dana Priest-Bill Arkin article on the Joint Special Operations Command [JSOC] to argue that we need new "Title 60" legislation now more than ever. The article, based on a chapter in the authors' new book form of a Post series last year, points out the government's strong reliance on JSOC for major, risky national security activities -- some of which are like the "covert operations" by the CIA, which are subject to longstanding procedures for presidential approval and congressional notification. But, as the authors point out,

"Under President George W. Bush, JSOC’s operations were rarely briefed to Congress in advance — and usually not afterward, either — because government lawyers considered them to be “traditional military activities” not requiring such notification. President Obama has taken the same legal view, but he has insisted that JSOC’s sensitive missions be briefed to select congressional leaders. "
The absence of a legal regime including Congress for these activities looks like a risky loophole to me, one that has an easy fix.Some members of Congress have talked about "Title 60" legislation extending the current law to include Pentagon-run operations like those of JSOC. None of the committees that might look into this have acted yet. I hope they'll use this latest article to get busy.

No comments:

Post a Comment