Thursday, July 9, 2009


Republicans may deny the reality of CIA dishonesty in one form or another--it is their new modus vivendi--but Panetta has had to resort to the Clintonesque dodge, It depends on what you mean by "is." His admission that it is not the policy or practice of the CIA to mislead Congress is a covert admission that misleading Congress occurs as a matter of fact on occasion--or has in the past. No doubt, Panetta wants to protect his turf and his troops. But he ought to be able to support good agents and analysts without supporting the others. He ought to be able to deal with a "few bad apples," deal with them, and move on. Meanwhile, the agency has plainly gone rogue in the past eight years and needs Congressional oversight. That oversight cannot be provided by only the eight leaders in the House and Senate; they cannot discuss, much less prevent, CIA operations. Obama's threat to veto a bill with a provision for wider disclosure in Congress (to all members of House and Senate intelligence committees) is a measure of his retreat from "transparency" and of the likelihood of future abuses. The best approach: cut the CIA budget by funding only programs fully known to these committees.

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