Congress, both Senate and the House, tend to be a bunch of craven cowards prone to pandering rather than leading. That said, I am giving the benefit of the doubt to Senator Diane Feinstein and doubting the purity of the CIA in the battle over getting the “truth” about the CIA interrogation program.
Let’s be clear about some basic facts. Number one–there is no doubt that torture was excused and some CIA officers, along with contractors, engaged in criminal, reprehensible behavior. They justified it because of the “greater good,” but the men (and maybe some women) who participated in this activity committed crimes that we hung Japanese for in the aftermath of World War II.
Number two–we have testimony from CIA officer Glenn Carle in his book, The Interrogator, and from FBI Agent Ali Soufan about these abuses. Nothing hidden here. It is now out in the public. Unfortunately, we have many members of the Bush Administration excusing and justifying the conduct. It is worth noting that the CIA Officers (and the contractors) were carrying out orders of President George W. Bush.
The fundamental issue here is whether or not Congress has a right to know the truth.
The following passage from a report in Wednesday’s LA Times gets to the heart of the matter:
In January this year, concerned of a possible security breach, the CIA searched logs of the computers used by the Senate investigators and confirmed they had obtained the internal study.
Eatinger referred the case to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges. The CIA’s inspector general separately asked the Justice Department to review the CIA’s conduct in the case to see whether it warranted further investigation.
In a stinging critique Tuesday, Feinstein said the CIA search and Eatinger’s referral may have violated the Constitution, a federal computer fraud statute and a prohibition against CIA domestic surveillance.
Despite his newfound notoriety, Eatinger may be the CIA’s acting general counsel for some time. President Obama’s nominee for permanent CIA general counsel, Caroline Krass, has been held up in the Senate because of the dispute between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Here is the key issue–the CIA had an internal report that was unvarnished and harsh and had withheld it from Congress. Staff members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee discovered this internal report and took a copy. I side with Feinstein in this. Congress has every right to that report.
If this was a case of protecting the identities of foreign intelligence assets then I could understand the CIA’s insistence on protecting such information. But I do not think that is what is going on here. This is cover your ass territory. The CIA behaved in a reprehensible manner and excused their behavior because they were carrying out the orders of a President. But, if you recall the Nuremberg Trials, we condemned Nazis for “just following orders” because they engaged in criminal, unspeakable behavior.
I do not doubt there is a gross dosage of hypocrisy on the part of the Senate. Diane Feinstein certainly knew of this activity when it was occurring and did nothing to stop it. That she now has religion is a little late. Nonetheless, the issue is whether or not the CIA is accountable to the laws of this land and, more importantly, to the laws of God.
As I noted in my previous piece on this subject, John Brennan has a vested interest in covering up the misdeeds of that period. While he was not a key decision make in those matters, he was a tacit participant. I do not believe the CIA has a right to withhold and/or hide this information from the Congress.
More importantly is the conduct of Barack Obama. As President, per Feinstein, he is refusing to turn over information to the Congress. Feinstein said the documents were withheld at the direction of the “White House.” Last time I checked, Obama is supposed to be in charge. What is he hiding?
What do you think?