Who’s in Charge at 1600 Penn. St.?

The 9/11 commission backed anti-terrorism bill tanked today, even though both Bush and Cheney personally intervened on its behalf (so much for all that capital that Bush has been bloviating about). One of the sources of resistance reportedly came from Republicans encouraged by the Defense Department, which doesn’t want to lose control over intellegence (~80% of intellegence spending currently goes through Defense).

Here’s the thing: Rumsfeld helped to quash a bill supposedly backed by the White House and many in both parties. If Rumsfeld really did defy Bush (and this isn’t back-channel sabotage), then Bush has a real problem. He has to get rid of Rumsfeld or else look like he can’t even control his own house. Given Rumsfeld’s disasterous advice, if the president can’t remove him, then how can he negotiate with Congress (or North Korea)?

An aside: according to CBS News, some Republicans are worried about the fallout from failing to pass the anti-terrorism bill if another attack were to happen. The fallout?! What about the victims? Talk about treating national security as a tactical problem…

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