The House's interim MIAC study committee (officially know as the Interim Committee on State Intelligence Analysis Oversight, or ICOSIAO, for short) finally met this afternoon in Jefferson City, with none of the fireworks you might have expected in March or April.
The tone of today's hearing was decidedly more reasonable than the over-the-top rhetorical flourishes offered a few months ago. A few months ago, Peter Kinder was demanding investigations and the MO GOP was decrying a "21st Century ‘Enemies List." But now that a few of them have actually taken time to read the report, let go of conspiracy theories about Jay Nixon's desire to imprison all conservatives everywhere, become aware of the Dr. George Tiller's murder, and seen today's news from Washington -- the grandstanding has been ratcheted down a notch.
I found Highway Patrol Superintendent James Keathley's testimony on the challenges of protecting the public while protecting civil liberties to be particularly compelling. For instance, he talked about what goes through his mind as an officer when approaching a vehicle displaying an NRA sticker. (It was a good analogy, given the Modern Militia Movement report's mention of political bumper stickers). An NRA member himself, Keathley explained that such a sticker wouldn't cause him to assume the driver was a criminal -- but it would suggest to him an increased likelihood that the driver had a weapon, including a concealed weapon. It was a short story, but illustrative of how law enforcement folks absorb a lot of information, and must consider everything in context.
One other interesting comment from the tail end of Keathley's testimony: While he could see why the public might have some concerns about the way the report was constructed, it was his opinion that law enforcement personnel reading the report would just assume that the report focused on criminal activity. Nevertheless, they've instituted new rules for reviewing any future publications.
The MIAC committee is still planning to meet three other times this summer.
No word yet on when hearings focused on job creation or affordable health care might be held.