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Is Bachmann’s slot on Intelligence Committee part of GOP plan to stifle her?

Is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s new post on the House Intelligence Committee an effort by GOP leadership to stifle her inflammatory statements in the media? Slate’s Noreen Malone makes the case, contending that the strategy is not fair to Bachmann who was a workhorse in the 2010 House elections on behalf of the GOP, while the Washington Post posits that Bachmann isn’t likely to enjoy serving on a committee that is at times as secretive as it is boring.

Slate’s Malone argues argues that Bachmann’s spot on the House Intelligence Committee was an effort by GOP leadership to quiet her.

Instead, the steering committee slotted her for the House Intelligence Committee, a rather Machiavellian move: While on paper it’s a prestigious assignment, the committee’s workings are intrinsically hush-hush. As one observer told Politico, “If you’re looking for media and controversy, that’s not the committee to be on.” That’s particularly rough for Bachmann, powered as she is by media attention.

She accepted the intelligence appointment in a particularly Mama Grizzly-esque manner, connecting the distant dots of motherhood and national security on her Facebook page: “As a mother of five biological children and 23 foster children I pledge to do whatever I need to do to keep your family, my family, and the United States safe from harm.” This was the sound of Bachmann scrambling. While terrorists are one of her favorite talking points (she attributes her 2006 election to her commitments to “cutting taxes, building roads and protecting the nation against radical jihadists”), national security isn’t precisely the former tax attorney’s forte.

Jeff Stein, intelligence writer for the Washington Post, expounded on the challenges that service on the committee may pose. He predicted Bachmann may not find the committee all that interesting, but also that Bachmann’s not likely to enjoy the silence that the committee demands of its members.

A senior CIA official who spent a lot of time with the congressional oversight panels before retiring a few years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, however, predicted Bachmann would quickly become bored.

“Most of the members take very little interest since the work is not in the public eye so there is no TV time, there is no money for their constituents and very little opportunity for pork,” he observed, speaking on condition of anonymity because he consults with U.S. national security agencies.

But [David M. Barrett, author of “The CIA and Congress"], noted that some committee members find it intolerable not to go public over things they feel strongly about.

“The best new members do a lot of homework, attend committee meetings, are unafraid to ask questions, but keep quiet in their public remarks,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet on a new member of the intelligence committee who so clearly enjoys the spotlight taking the appropriate low-profile approach to committee service.”

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