House Repub­li­cans crit­i­cize Dems’ shift of spy funds to study cli­mate

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

Se­nior House Repub­li­cans are com­plain­ing about Democrats’ plans to di­vert “scarce” intelligence funds to study global warm­ing.

The House this week will con­sider the Demo­crat-crafted Intelligence Au­tho­riza­tion bill, which in­cludes a pro­vi­sion di­rect­ing an as­sess­ment of the ef­fects that cli­mate change has on na­tional se­cu­rity.

“Our job is to steal se­crets,” said Rep. Peter Hoek­stra of Michi­gan, the rank­ing Repub­li­can on the Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Intelligence.

“There are all kinds of peo­ple an­a­lyz­ing global warm­ing, the Democrats even have a spe­cial com­mit­tee on this,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “There’s no value added by the intelligence com­mu­nity here; they have no spe­cial ex­per­tise, and this takes money and re­sources away from other threats.”

Democrats, who out­num­ber Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee, blocked the mi­nor­ity from strip­ping the warm­ing lan­guage from the bill.

Intelligence panel Chair­man Sil­vestre Reyes, Texas Demo­crat, said the cli­mate-change study is one of sev­eral shifts his party has made to intelligence pol­icy.

“We’re con­cerned that global warm­ing might im­pact our abil­ity to main­tain na­tional se­cu­rity,” he told The Times, de­scrib­ing the idea as “cut­ting edge.”

“We want to get feed­back from the intelligence com­mu­nity to un­der­stand if there are pos­si­ble global is­sues,” Mr. Reyes said, not­ing the change was on the ad­vice of “sev­eral for­mer mil­i­tary com­man­ders.”

The panel voted 11-9 to keep the pro­vi­sion that di­rects a Na­tional Intelligence Es­ti­mate “on the an­tic­i­pated geopo­lit­i­cal ef­fects of global cli­mate change and the im­pli­ca­tions of such ef­fects on the na­tional se­cu­rity of the United States,” ac­cord­ing to a Repub­li­can staffer familiar with the bill.

The study, which so far has an un­de­ter­mined cost, would ex­am­ine the science of cli­mate change, among other things. Few de­tails about its method were avail­able, but the staffer said it would “di­vert al­ready scarce re­sources to study the cli­mate.”

The staffer added that the U.S. al­ready tried us­ing intelligence re­sources for this pur­pose in the 1990s.

“There are other parts of the gov­ern­ment bet­ter suited to do­ing this type of study,” agreed Rep. Dar­rell Issa, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can. “Our gov­ern­ment should not com­mit ex­pen­sive spy satel­lites and hu­man intelligence sources to tar­get some­thing as un­de­fined as the en­vi­ron­ment.”

The Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Di­rec­tor of Cen­tral Intelligence cre­ated the DCI En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter in 1997 to ex­am­ine en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

In 1999, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton an­nounced he was de­clas­si­fy­ing satel­lite images of Antarc­tica cap­tured by the intelligence com­mu­nity un­der an ini­tia­tive to make pub­lic pre­vi­ously clas­si­fied data.

A Clin­ton White House press re­lease out­lines Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore’s role in mak­ing sure that 59 satel­lite images of the Arc­tic were re­leased to “help sci­en­tists bet­ter un­der­stand the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween po­lar ice caps and global warm­ing.”

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