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The Crusade Against the CIA

The Wall Street Journal editors illuminate the latest episode of Congressional mendacity regarding our intelligence community. It seems as though Nancy Pelosi has drummed up support from her House Intelligence Committee Chairman in her crusade to brand the CIA as a pack of “liars”:

As political spectacles go, one would be hard pressed to find anything as ridiculous as the Washington Romper Room now starring Congressional Democrats and the CIA. If only the consequences weren’t potentially so damaging for national security.

The latest episode comes courtesy of Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. In a letter leaked to the press on Wednesday, he claims the agency “misled” Congress about its activities after 9/11.  . . Mr. Panetta must feel burned. After the Pelosi blow-up, he has tried to repair relations with his own party’s Congressional leaders, and last month he reached out to the Intelligence Committee. On June 24, in a classified hearing, Mr. Panetta produced so-called new information about CIA counterterrorism efforts in the months after the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. We’re told that he informed the Members that the agency had considered, then abandoned, a major covert antiterror program. (Our sources wouldn’t say what it was.) Bush-era CIA officials didn’t tell Congress because it never got off the ground. But this is the “at least one case” Mr. Reyes claims his committee was “lied to” about in the Bush years.

As the Journal editors explain, this is the same crowd that wants to expand intelligence briefings beyond the “Gang of Eight.” Well, the ball is now in Panetta’s court. Does he allow the slander of his agency to continue or does he call out Congressional Democrats for their deceit and destructive behavior?

There was at one point a faint hope that with majority power would come greater maturity and more responsible behavior from liberals in Congress regarding matters of national security. That change for the better has yet to materialize. But Panetta, and ultimately the president, will be held accountable for the damage done to our intelligence community, should these shenanigans continue.

The president has one of those not-at-all false choices he is so fond of denigrating: does he become complicit in the liberal lawmakers’ apparent mission to see just how much damage one Congress can do to our intelligence community? Or does he, as he did (in a half-hearted sort of way) on the detainee-abuse photos, stand up to the netroot base and defend those who defend all of us? The country (which has clearly taken the CIA’s side in the Pelosi fight), and specifically the professionals in the CIA and other intelligence agencies, will be watching intently.


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