HOUSE INTELLIGENCE UPDATE….In the soap opera that is the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, the latest chatter is that instead of selecting compromise candidate Silvestre Reyes, perhaps Nancy Pelosi should dig even deeper and select compromise-compromise candidate Rush Holt. Over at Ezra’s site, Neil comments:

I have nothing against Reyes, but I’m drawn to Holt by the sort of identity politics that I’m the most susceptible to. He’s the former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, giving rise to “My Congressman is a Rocket Scientist” bumper stickers in his New Jersey district. I have an immediate trust in skilled academics from rigorous fields of study. There’s also the point that he’s a really smart guy.

It would also be cool for Pelosi to make the point that doing your job well ? that is, being right about which countries have WMD and which don’t ? can trump seniority in making you a committee chair.

Holt is a good guy, and his reasons for opposing the war resolution showed good judgment. He’d probably do fine as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

However, if Holt made any firm statements questioning the existence of Iraq’s WMD programs back in 2002, I haven’t been able to find them. He appears to have believed Iraq had an active WMD program as much as anyone, which shouldn’t be a surprise since this belief was shared at the time by virtually every intelligence agency in the world, including the CIA. (Yes, the Bush administration exaggerated the CIA’s finding, but the CIA did clearly report their belief that Iraqi WMD programs were active and dangerous.)

There also seems to be more than a whiff of retribution here against any Democrat who supported the war resolution, and that strikes me as pretty counterproductive. After all, nearly half the Democratic caucus supported the resolution, and we really don’t want to declare every one of these folks persona non grata on all issues related to national security. Karl Rove would have a field day with that, wouldn’t he?

In any case, it sure seems to me that Nancy Pelosi should make a decision about this ASAP, if only to keep idle fingers like mine and Neil’s from chattering about this stuff endlessly. For better or worse, she ought to put this to bed.

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