The Chairman of the House Un-Intelligence Committee

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen former Texas Border Patrol Agent, Rep. Silvestre Reyes to Chair the House Intelligence Committee. The current ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif) but Speaker Pelosi is a little tiffed at Harman so Pelosi decided to oust Harman and attempted to place Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla), the disgraced and impeached former Federal Judge from Florida who was convicted of bribery and perjury in 1988 to chair the Intelligence Committee. Forget the Republicans, even the Democratic Party’s center-left and left of center wings couldn’t buy into having and ex-convict running America’s House Intelligence Committee, so far left San Francisco liberal Peloisi relented and appointed Rep. Reyes. Announcing her choice of Reyes, Speaker Pelosi said,

“When tough questions are required – whether they relate to intelligence shortcomings before the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq, or to the quality of intelligence on Iran and North Korea – he does nor hesitate to ask them.” 

Judging from the following interview with Rep. Reyes conducted by Jeff Stein, the National Security Editor for the Congressional Quarterly, it appears Reyes could use a crash course on al-Qaeda and the Middle East. But then again, maybe Reyes has bought into the left-wing liberal fantasy that President George Bush is the “real” enemy and that radical Islamic facism is just a by-product of Bush’s bumbling invasion of a peaceful soveriegn Iraq. Assuming there is some semblance of truth in that, then a House-led Intelligence committee, oxymoronic in itself, comes as no surprise. As Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal once remarked as a metaphor for the Democratic Party;

“We don’t where to stand or what to stand for, and in fact we’re not good at standing for anything anyway, but at least we know we can’t stand [George Bush.]” 

Here’s Jeff Stein commenting on his interview with Reyes.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly – probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up al Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil…

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said-a little.

“Pocito?! ” He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.”…

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiraling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you – we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

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