Reyes to lead House intelligence committee
- If I'm not mistaken he will also now be the only
committee chairman from Texas, and I'm pretty sure
he's the first chairman from El Paso we've ever had.
Reyes to lead House intelligence committee (9:33
By Jake Rollow / El Paso Times
Article Launched:12/01/2006 09:25:07 AM MST
Congressman Silvestre Reyes was named chairman of the
House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee this
Tapped by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who became
the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives when
Democrats took control of it in the mid-term
elections, Reyes had been the third-ranking Democrat
in the committee.
"Congressman Silvestre Reyes has impeccable national
security credentials. He has served our country as a
soldier in combat, a senior law enforcement officer on
our southern border, and in Congress as a member of
the Select Intelligence, Armed Services, and Veterans'
Affairs Committees," said Pelosi in a statement
released this morning.
Reyes was first elected in 1996 is also the senior
ranking member of the Subcommittee on Strategic
Forces, which is a part of the Armed Services
Committee. A veteran and retired U.S. Border Patrol
district chief, he has worked on military, immigration
and security issues in Washington, D.C.
Reyes could not immediately be reached for comment.
"He (Reyes) understands how our troops rely on
intelligence to do their jobs and to keep them safe
and how policymakers need reliable and timely
intelligence to make decisions that will advance our
interests worldwide. 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 on intelligence on Iran or
North Korea, he does not hesitate to ask them," Pelosi
The selection of Reyes resolves one of the few
committee chairmanships that was still in question
after Democrats won control of the House of
Representatives last month. It set up an early
challenge for Pelosi, who had sole discretion on the
Pelosi had to navigate a series of candidates -- and
their supporters -- who were vying for the post. In
the end, Pelosi bypassed two more senior intelligence
committee members -- Reps. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and
Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. -- to select Reyes. Harman is
currently the committee's top Democrat, and her term
on the panel expires this year. She could have been
reappointed by Pelosi, but the two are said to have
political differences. In a statement, Harman
congratulated Reyes and noted she has offered him her
"full and enthusiastic support."
Some critics and ethics watchdogs had questioned
whether Hastings was the right person for the post,
which has access to some of the nation s top secrets.
He is Congress' only impeached federal judge. In a
sign of the bitterness that has surrounded the issue,
a Hastings statement this week announcing he would not
get the job closed with: "Sorry, haters, God is not
finished with me yet."
Known as "Silver" to friends, Reyes is a Purple Heart
winner who was drafted into the Army and served during
1966-68 as a helicopter crew chief and gunner. His
service included 13 months in Vietnam.
He rose through the ranks during 26 years of service
in the Border Patrol, leaving as a senior law
enforcement official in Texas in 1995. He won his seat
in Congress the next year.
Under Democratic control, his committee is expected to
increase public oversight of some of the most
difficult issues facing the United States, including
terrorism, Iraq and government surveillance. Given the
committee s inherently secret nature, much of the work
will have to be done behind closed doors.
Reyes is considered less partisan than Hastings, and
signaled that the day after the election when he
praised the selection of former CIA Director Robert
Gates to replace Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Check elpasotimes.com later today for more on this
Jake Rollow may be reached at jrollow@...;
The Associated Press contributed to this report.