Panetta: CIA Lied to Congress

While the details are disputed, it appears that the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Leon Panetta went to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence late last month and confessed that the CIA had misled them, given them incomplete briefings, and (at least once) affirmatively lied to the committee during the Bush years.

This is no surprise. The Bush administration didn't believe in congressional oversight or the rule of law. It's a positive development that Panetta investigated the record and came clean with a promise to not repeat the mistakes in this administration. I hope we will learn some of the specifics of those deceptions, but that is not what concerns me here. What concerns me is the administration's response to this development.

The House Intelligence Committee has been working on legislation to address one of the key problems that arose during the Bush era. The law allows the administration to limit briefings to the so-called Gang of Eight (the Speaker/Minority Leader of the House, the Majority/Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Chairs/Ranking Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees). It was as Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that Jay Rockefeller was informed about key aspects of the NSA program. Rockefeller was concerned about the legality of the program but prohibited from even consulting a lawyer. He wrote a letter to Dick Cheney and put a copy in a secure safe. It was as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee that Nancy Pelosi was informed about OLC rulings that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. She, too, was prohibited from sharing that information with anyone, including other members of the committee.


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