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Too Many Anti-Terror Agencies? Top House Budget Writer Says Consolidation May Be Needed

Congress needs to do a thorough review of the many agencies that gather intelligence and monitor and fight terrorists - and may need to consolidate them, the House Republicans’ chief budget writer said Sunday.

“I suspect we’re going to find there’s too many of them,” Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said at a press conference at Spokane Airways. “The military has never been enamored with counterterrorism responsibilities.”

In Spokane to attend a campaign fund-raiser for fellow Republican Rep. George Nethercutt, the House GOP’s budget guru also suggested the nation needs a budget “train wreck.” He blasted national unions that are taking to the television airwaves in the battle over proposed changes in Medicare.

He also heaped scorn on the Clinton administration for mishandling FBI files of potential White House visitors, calling them “bozos,” “nitwits” and the “‘absolute example of Murphy’s Law.”

The so-called filegate shows the dangers of intelligence gathering in a free society, Kasich said. The nation must have a strong internal intelligence operation.

“Reacting is not good enough,” Kasich said. “The FBI is going to have to be strengthened.”

But the government must remain vigilant at protecting the rights of all people, even those on whom it gathers information, he said. It is the “yin and yang” of dealing with terrorism in America’s free society.

Kasich suggested the United States “take a page from the book of the Israelis” in dealing with international terrorists: “There should be no protection, anywhere on earth, for people involved in terrorism.”

Militia groups who feel they must go to war with their government “are off the deep end,” he added.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich has the greatest responsibility for crafting the GOP budget in that chamber. Last year, budget disagreements between House and Senate Republicans and the Clinton White House led to a series of partial shutdowns of the federal government and spending bills not passed until months after the budget year began.

Asked whether Congress would pass a budget and spending bills before the budget year starts Oct. 1, Kasich didn’t sound optimistic.

Most people in Washington, D.C., are intent on “making the trains run on time,” and passing a budget to which both sides agree. He’s not.

“Frankly, I think we need a train wreck,” he said. If President Clinton wants to argue for more spending, Republicans should fight, and “I think we prevail,” he added.

Standing at the microphone with Nethercutt, who is in the middle of his re-election campaign, Kasich criticized ads by the AFL-CIO and other groups that accuse Republicans of cutting Medicare.

The unions have an unfair advantage because they collect money for political activity as part of their members’ dues, he said.

“We have to go out with tin cups and ask people to contribute,” Kasich said shortly before leaving for the $100 per couple fund-raiser at the Manito Country Club.

, DataTimes

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