From the Department of Unintentional Humor

For unintentional humor, you can’t do much better than CIA Director John Brennan’s statement before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday:

First, my CIA colleagues and I believe strongly in the necessity of effective, strong and bipartisan congressional oversight.

Why does that strike me as funny? To the best of my knowledge that CIA withheld documents, withdrew documents, and has repeatedly lied to the committee is not under dispute. How in the heck does he think that the Senate can perform its oversight duties under those circumstances?

The only real dispute in this whole sorry affair is why hasn’t the Senate reined in the CIA long since? I think it’s fear. Fear of the CIA. Fear of the unknown. Fear of their constituents.

Update

In substantiation of my claim see here:

WASHINGTON — The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

The significance of the materials couldn’t be learned. But the administration’s refusal to turn them over or to agree to any compromise raises questions about what they would reveal about the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons.

The dispute indicates that the White House is more involved than it has acknowledged in the unprecedented power struggle between the committee and the CIA, which has triggered charges that the agency searched the panel’s computers without authorization and has led to requests to the Justice Department for criminal investigations of CIA personnel and Senate aides.

Mr. Brennan might reasonably have said “We can’t show you the documents you’ve requested because the president won’t let us” but I don’t see how he says what he has with a straight face.

2 comments… add one

  • PD Shaw

    I like this quote from Sen. Feinstein: “our staff did just what the CIA personnel would have done had they reviewed the document.”

    Its a tacit admission of Senate wrongdoing in removing the documents, but also can be read as the Senate setting the bar for only the highest standards.

  • ...

    I would like to amend my stated wishes from yesterday: one can only wish that all three sides, the White House, the Senate, and the CIA lose.

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