Did the C.I.A. Lie to Congress?

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Several of our readers have been complaining—and probably rightly so—about the number of posts dedicated to Sarah Palin, Michael Jackson and Mark Sanford, because more important issues were being ignored.

Well, I can hardly think of a more important issue than our Central Intelligence Agency lying to our legislators.

That is exactly what some Democrats are claiming.

According to the New York Times this morning, in : “Democrats Say C.I.A. Deceived Congress“:

In a June 26 letter to Mr. Panetta discussing his testimony, Democrats said that the agency had “misled members” of Congress for eight years about the classified matters, which the letter did not disclose. “This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods,” said the letter, made public late Wednesday by Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, one of the signers.

And, in a letter from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, to the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, Mr. Reyes reportedly said that the committee “has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to.”

In “Panetta Acknowledged CIA Misled On Interrogation Policy: Dem Lawmakers,” The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein is more direct:

CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers in a recent briefing that the intelligence agency he heads misled Congress on “significant actions” for a “number of years,” a group of Democrats revealed on Wednesday.

Stein’ article includes a photocopy of the June 26 letter written to Panetta by seven Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee. In it, the CIA chief is urged to “publicly correct” an earlier statement he made in which he insisted that it was not agency policy to mislead Congress.

The letter concludes with the words:

Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week. This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.

Perhaps, this somewhat more important news will finally get us off the Palin, Jackson, Sanford merry-go-round.

  

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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19 Comments

  1. I'd trust TMZ before the HuffPost.

    My first impression is that CIA did not lie and members of Congress are trying to cover up what they really knew about our torture programs.

  2. The CIA… the masters at deception…. mislead Congress? Never! <sarcasm>

  3. I would like to believe that the CIA wouldn't lie. But no one – no one – is above suspicion. Of course, that goes for the Congressmembers, too.

  4. I have long believed that Leon Panetta is one of the finest gentlemen on this planet.

    IF congress new about the torture programs then the CIA certainly new. So which CIA chief do we prosecute? The one that did the crime and is now a private citizen or the one now that is merely trying to protect and rebuild our agency?

    If the CIA did these things then I believe the former President knew it and lead people to believe as much in his speeches. Again which President do we persecute? The President that perpetuated the crime and now is gone or the new President trying to rebuild after all the damage has been done? Maybe there is also a Vice President involved? Others?

    However, if TRUTH means truly damaging our agency, or, getting our people killed, etc., so that Nancy Pelosi can save face because she can’t watch her big mouth, then screw Nancy Pelosi.

    I choose to listen to Leon Panetta in this circumstance. His only possible motive must be honorable.

  5. Either the CIA lied before when it was reporting on the torture regime, or it's lying now when it says they lied before.

    Think about it :-)

  6. Well, according to the Times, Panetta said the CIA lied about one thing…no disclosure on what that was about. Panetta also said that the CIA mislead on other issues.

    Question is what….

    Dems refuse to investigate.

    That leads me to believe that they were told a lot more than what they want to admit too.

  7. Good comments, it all depends on exactly what the CIA, then and now, lied about it, and what the President(s) knew, and when….

    I should have made that point

    But, I have to agree, I trust Mr. Panetta's judgment more than any recent CIA Director's

    Dorian

  8. Did the CIA mislead Congress, quite likely. Is Pelosi and Co. misleading the American people about what they did know, just as likely.

  9. If the issue is lying to a Congressional committee, I hope that the Democratic members at least attempted to ask Republicans to be part of this letter writing. I assume Republican members of Congress get just as upset as Democratic ones do about these issues. Without this step, the letter has already become a partisan issue and we may never know.

  10. Republican members of the intel committees are probably staying out of this due to their party's desire to try and paint this as much as possible as a “Pelosi is a liar” issue, regardless of the truth of the matter. I think the current CIA briefing system is broken and needs to be expanded beyond the small committee leadership heads that currently are the only recipients of the information. At least expand it to include all intel committee members, which would expand the number of congressmen that would be needed to pull off a total CYA coverup, should such a thing really occur. Currently the small Gang of Eight are the only ones who have knowledge of a lot of CIA activities which they are prohibited from discussing.

  11. lurxst–

    What you suggest would destroy our intelligence gathering agency, which is already damaged by this partisan bickering.

  12. How can this be other than grandstanding by “the group of Democrats”?

    Since the facts of the charge cannot be made public, what practical good of the nation is served to make the letter public?

    If these were people actually intent on righting a wrong, they would handle the matter to conclusion behind closed doors as opposed to merely seeking to swiftboat in the press ahead of time.

  13. The ci lying a started lying about 15 minutes after it was created and has never told the truth since. What scares me is that someday they might tell the truth when it was critical to my survival, because I would never believe anything that anyone associated with this mob of uncontrolled Ivy League thugs says.

    What happened to the head rapist in Algeria? Did they put him in charge of the womens section of one of their unacknowledged “black prisons” that everyone in the world except the MSM in the US knows about. That would be par for the course of their “honor.”

  14. BigOil ran the CIA throughout the entire Bushco regime. Why hasn't the name “Cheney” come up yet? BigOil wanted in Iraq to sieze the resource there. Simple as pie. Malignant capitalism lied to Congress, that's who should be held responsible. Trace the breadcrumbs and find the masterminds. Pretty simple stuff. Didn't Cheney comission a secret branch of the CIA that met in some cloistered halls? What were the names in that group? Those are the guys you want.

  15. co, that's lame. 4500 American military are dead and tens of thousands crippled in our war in Iraq, not to mention a bunch of Iraqi civilians. If we want to avoid lies endangering American lives, wasting money, trashing our reputation and causing Congress to make bad decisions, there must be consequences, and serious ones, for lying to Congress. The idea that we're safer if we don't investigate is just ignorant.

    I think conservatives are surprisingly credulous of CIA considering their distrust of government in most other matters. Remember that for all the billions spent during the cold war, and with all the patriotic defenses of CIA, just like you hear today, we had NO secrets. The guy with ultimate clearance, Aldrich Ames, sold every secret we had to the Russians. We're fools to forgot this, and fools not to keep a VERY close watch on everyone involved. Not investigating dishonesty in the CIA is deadly.

  16. From this morning's NYT:

    “Republicans largely played down Mr. Panetta’s disclosure, saying the failure to brief the committees was unfortunate but not a major lapse because the program in question never got beyond the planning stage.

    “If they’d done this thing and hadn’t told us about it, I’d be screaming from the tallest building in Washington,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “But it was on-again, off-again and never happened.”

    Ms. Eshoo strongly disagreed with that assessment. She said that whatever the status of the program over the eight years of the Bush administration, the failure to brief Congress may have violated the law requiring that Congress be kept informed of intelligence activities.

    “The whole committee was stunned” by what Mr. Panetta disclosed at the June 24 briefing, Ms. Eshoo said. “I think this is as serious as it gets.”

    Ms. Eshoo said she would urge the entire committee to investigate the matter.“We have to know who ordered the program, where did the money come from and who gave the order not to inform Congress,” she said.”

  17. Why are only a few Democrats howling about this?

    Is this a redirected Bush-Cheney-hating psychosis?

    If true, was it also classified info improperly released?

    Notice that the public (rightly) isn't currently Alarmed (D).

  18. From todays's Washington Post:

    “The program remains classified, and those knowledgeable about it would describe it only vaguely yesterday. Several current and former administration officials called it an “on-again, off-again” attempt to create a new intelligence capability and said it was related to the collection of information on suspected terrorists that was instituted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Congressional Republicans said no briefing about the program was required because it was not a major tool used against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They accused Democrats of using the matter to divert attention away from Pelosi's accusation that CIA officials intentionally misled her in 2002 about the agency's interrogations of suspected terrorists.

    Current and former administration officials familiar with the program said it was not directly related to previously disclosed high-priority programs such as detainee interrogations or the warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil. It was a intelligence-collection activity run by the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, officials said. It was not a covert action, which by law would have required a presidential finding and a report to Congress.

    “This characterization of something that began in 2001 and continued uninterrupted for eight years is just wrong. Honest men would question that characterization. It was more off and on,” said a former top Bush administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the issue. “

  19. Who knew the C.I.A. was ever 100 percent forthcoming with their plans? Whether or not Cheney had influence on the group on this occasion seems very politicized. It’s my opinion it’s S.O.P. for the C.I.A. http://www.newsy.com/videos/state_secrets_chene

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