Area's Congressman takes issue with new intelligence bill
Though he was just recently reelected by a landslide last month, Republican U.S. Representative Steve King of Kiron has not had his bellyful of elections yet. King hopes to be in Iraq next month for the first democratic elections in that nation's history.
Congressman King spoke on the Iraqi elections and other topics in an interview with the Pilot-Tribune this week.
"I think it would be tremendously valuable to be there on the ground," King said. "I'd like to be on the ground to see how long the lines are, what the people act like."
King said he is working with the Armed Services Committee to get travel clearance to Iraq for the elections. He remains hopeful about the elections, despite the fact that insurgent violence in November matched May for the highest number of Americans killed in Iraq at 135.
"It's more difficult to move around the country now than it was a year ago," King said. American forces are now transported more by helicopter than by road to avoid being an easy target for terrorists. King said it remains a mystery as to whom the insurgents really are in Iraq.
"Who are the people that are willing to commit suicide," King conjectured. "We can't verify that there are any Iraqis doing that. Every indication is that they are foreign." The could include insurgents from Syria, Jordan, or even Palestine, the Congressman feels.
Once the situation is in hand, though, King said the next step would be democratic elections.
"The next milestone is the elections," King said. "It is a big step toward a free and stable Iraq."
King noted that while in rule Saddam Hussein killed an average of 182 people daily, "We're in the range of 100,000 Iraqis that are alive today that would not be if Saddam were still in power," King said.
King said the U.S. was extremely careful to avoid inflicting any unnecessary collateral civilian casualties. "This war was as carefully targeted as any war in history," King said.
In relation to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, King continues to question what he sees as the ineffectiveness of the recently passed intelligence bill, particularly as it continues to allow terrorists into the country.
King has taken to task the 9-11 Commission's recommendations to put all intelligence agencies under one roof, a measure that was recently approved.
"The success of intelligence has always come from out-of-the-box thinkers," King said. Putting all the intelligence eggs in one basket, said King, "encourages group think" which may not always be the best approach to intelligence gathering. King also has problems with language in the intelligence bill stating that the national intelligence director "will respect and not abrogate" subdirectors.
King countered an accusation by the 9-11 Commission that various intelligence agencies did not share information before terrorists attacked New York and Washington. "It appeared to me that they were victims of their own group think," King said of the 9-11 Commission. "They've never proven their case as to why one more level of bureaucracy would be beneficial."
King said the intelligence bill abandoned a provision that he wanted to allow potential hijackers to be picked up. "We can't do the most obvious thing for some reason because it's not politically correct," King said.
As one example, King called a drivers license "the de facto national identity card" which has become "the de facto key to United States citizenship." King said 10 states have decided to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.
Predictably, King responded very favorably to the outcome of the Nov. 2 general election.
"It was a night that almost all my dreams came true," King said. "It was a big Presidential victory."
King said he hopes the election will open the door to discussion of a national sales tax to replace the income tax. King would also like to see a move to balance the federal budget and appointing and keeping judges sympathetic to the original intent of the Constitution.
"When judges choose to disagree they may write an opinion that's not based on the Constitution at all," King said. He said issues which are indicative of judicial activism and are not Constitutionally based include same-sex marriages and Roe v. Wade.
King said Storm Lake dredging is "one appropriation away from having this funding stream institutionalized." He stressed though the need for people in the Storm Lake area to continue to work for lake dredging funds.
"We all need to work together to keep this thing going," King said. King said the Project Awaysis destination park "Just takes this thing up another step" than lake dredging alone.
King said he had endorsed the concept of dredging Storm Lake in about 1996.
King said Highway 20 four-laning is also getting closer to being a reality.
"Every time we're throwing $2 to $3 million toward Highway 20, the closer it is to getting it built," King said. He said it is very important that local residents who want to see Highway 20 four-laned contact the state Department of Transportation commissioners.
"I think it's our job to see that we shape that consensus in the next year or two," King said. He said that once the final touches are done to Interstate 235 in Des Moines the state DOT will be willing to look at highway projects elsewhere in the state.
Noting that he wants to earmark any Highway 20 money for work west of U.S. Highway 71, King said the two main projects he has pushed for while in office were four-laning U.S. 20 and dredging Storm Lake. "Those are my highest priorities," King said.
King is also highly optimistic about alternative energy development in western Iowa.
"We are ever more an energy export center in western Iowa," King said. He said ethanol and biodiesel also bode well for energy and economic development in the area.