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CIA vs. Congress

We haven’t heard an awful lot about that Truth Commission since Nancy Pelosi’s zombiesque presser, in which she accused the CIA of lying to her. But that doesn’t mean Congress hasn’t been busy on the subject of CIA interrogations. As the Wall Street Journal tells us, shocking as it may be, Congress is engaged in some genuine hypocrisy:

Democrats recently marked up the 2010 intelligence bill, and Republican Pete Hoekstra offered an amendment in committee to require the CIA to make public an unclassified version of its records on Congressional briefings. It also would have required the CIA to disclose the information gleaned from those interrogations.

Transparency is good in and of itself and might also avoid these “misunderstandings,” right? Uh, no. The Democrats blocked Hoekstra’s amendment. But that’s not all:

Chairman Silvestre Reyes’s Intelligence Democrats passed a new requirement that the CIA videotape all detainee interrogations. This is a sop to the anti-antiterror left, which wants heads to roll because the CIA destroyed tapes of the interrogations of the likes of terrorist Abu Zubaydah. CIA clandestine chief Jose Rodriguez ordered those tapes destroyed precisely because he worried they might leak and compromise U.S. methods. Republicans offered an amendment to strip the videotape provision but lost on another partisan vote.

So the rule is simple: Congress is never accountable, but the CIA is always subject to second-guessing. The Journal wonders what CIA chief Leon Panetta thinks about all this. Good question.

If we wanted to create an atmosphere in which our intelligence agents are attuned to political rather than national-security considerations and survive by doing and saying as little as possible, it would be hard to do “better” than this administration has in its first six months.



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