UNDUE INFLUENCE….The White House says it opposes the creation of an intelligence czar because President Bush “wants to protect intelligence agencies from any undue influence.”

The chutzpah of these people is just breathtaking, isn’t it? How do they find people willing to say stuff like this with a straight face?

Still, as much as I hate to admit it, I think this anonymous official has a point ? and I think John Kerry is being too hasty in suggesting that we should simply implement 100% of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations ASAP. I continue to fear that the commission was predisposed to finding a bureaucratic solution to a problem that might not be fundamentally one of bureaucracy, and that centralization of responsibility won’t necessarily produce a better intelligence product.

However, one part of their recommendations that I do like is their proposal for more robust congressional oversight of the intelligence community. I don’t know if they got all the details right, and there’s no question that finding the right balance is a tricky task, but independent oversight is a good idea for practically any agency, and especially important for one that by definition works mostly in secret.

Regardless of what we end up with, though, I definitely don’t want Congress rushing to approve the complex legislation required to implement all this. The 9/11 commissioners are doing their best to pressure them into hasty action by manufacturing public panic over the idea that terrorists are “trying to attack us sooner rather than later,” but that’s how we got the PATRIOT Act three years ago. These are long term recommendations, not short term fixes, and I’d prefer a serious and thoughtful debate this time around.