The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is blasting the panel's chairman for refusing to hold hearings on the failures that led to the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day.
Representative Darrell Issa of California asked Tuesday for the hearings to look into what went wrong and the intelligence shortcomings.
But committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat, told Issa today that the Obama administration is already on the case. President Obama said Tuesday that US intelligence should have thwarted the attack, but failed to connect the dots, and is to receive a preliminary report Thursday on the failings.
"I am encouraged that the Obama administration is recognizing that the system should have prevented this attack, and has taken immediate action to correct deficiencies, rather than engage in denial or political bluster," Towns wrote.
Towns also noted that the Sept. 11 commission had recommended that congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security should be consolidated under the House Committee on Homeland Security. Some Republicans have called for the dismissal of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
But Issa's office was not satisfied, noting the committee did hold a hearing on the White House state dinner crashers.
"When two morons decided to breach White House Security, Chairman Towns was one of the first people out of the gate to call for an investigation that included the Oversight Committee," said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella. "Now, when we've had an attempted terrorist attack over American soil, Ed Towns is silent. It's nice to see that coming into 2010 we can expect the same rigorous oversight Chairman Towns spearheaded in 2009. Since 2001, this Committee has held more than 35 hearings on Homeland Security readiness and inner-agency communication - does Ed Towns really think forfeiting our Committee's oversight prerogatives right now is a good idea?"
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.