As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reyes Goes After Intelligence Oversight

House Intelligence Committee chair Silvestre Reyes will seek an investigation into the CIA's hiding of operations from the Congress:

After careful consideration and consultation with the Ranking Minority Member and other members of the Committee, I am announcing an official Committee investigation into possible violations of federal law, including the National Security Act of 1974.

“This investigation will focus on the core issues of how the congressional intelligence committees and Congress are kept fully and currently informed. To this end, the investigation will examine several issues, including the program discussed during [CIA] Director [Leon] Panetta’s June 24th notification and whether there was any official decision or direction to withold information from the Committee.

Note "including the program discussed." The alleged assassination squad should be seen as the latest example of the CIA acting without oversight, not the only one. The National Security Act is pretty clear about oversight responsibilities of intelligence operations, and it's been abused time and again. The Obama Administration doesn't want to change the "Gang of Eight" style of briefing, but Democrats are seeking more transparency for their members. Marcy Wheeler notes this as well:

First, Reyes says he consulted with Crazy Pete Hoekstra. I look forward to seeing how Crazy Pete spins this.

That'll be particularly interesting given the scope here. The investigation will include the reported assassination squad. But the core issue is more general--how CIA informs Congress. Which means that, in fact, this should also include whether or not CIA fullly briefed Pelosi and Goss on torture back in 2002.

Finally, the investigation will examine whether there was any "direction" to withhold information from Congress. I do hope they look at the question generally, as well as in the context of the reported assassination squad, because I suspect we'd see a pattern of Cheney instructing the Counterterrorism folks to lie to or withhold information from Congress.

The big question here is how far up the ladder they'll reach. But it's time to end the broken system of intelligence oversight and start again, and this investigation can be a catalyst.

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