Feinstein: CIA Concealment Outside Of The Law, Should Never, Ever Happen Again

John Amato: Nancy Pelosi is once again vindicated by the actions of the CIA and Dick Cheney. Darth Vader continually opens his mouth to defend his ho
up

John Amato:

Nancy Pelosi is once again vindicated by the actions of the CIA and Dick Cheney. Darth Vader continually opens his mouth to defend his horrific actions, but as more information leaks out it's quite obvious that he had no regard for the rule of law or the Constitution. The new breaking story is that Cheney told the CIA to keep their mouths shut and not inform Congress of what they were up to. This should be reviewed to see if he broke the law.

Normally this would be a shocking revelation under any other administration, but with Bush and Cheney---this is the norm.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney directed the CIA eight years ago not to inform Congress about a nascent counterterrorism program that CIA Director Leon Panetta terminated in June, officials with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

Subsequent CIA directors did not inform Congress because the intelligence-gathering effort had not developed to the point that they believed merited a congressional briefing, said a former intelligence official and another government official familiar with Panetta's June 24 briefing to the House and Senate Intelligence committees.

Panetta did not agree. Upon learning of the program June 23 from within the CIA, Panetta terminated it and the next day called an emergency meeting with the House and Senate Intelligence committees to inform them of the program and that it was canceled.

From Fox News Sunday, Dianne Feinstein and John Cornyn are asked about the recent revelation that the CIA was asked by the Bush administration not to reveal one of their programs to members of Congress.

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think this is a problem, obviously. This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock, when we had been hit in a way we’d never contemplated, where we had massive loss of life, where there was a major effort to be able to respond and -- but this -- see, I don’t -- I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.

Feinstein feels the concealment may have broken the law and has no problems with Attorney Gen. Holder appointing an independent I.G. to investigate the Bush administrations interrogation methods. Cornyn's response is predictable.

WALLACE: In our final moments, I want to turn to another subject, and this involves your role, Senator Feinstein, as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

CIA director Panetta briefed you recently on an 8-year-old program that he had stopped but that Congress had never been told about. Now there are reports that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA not to tell Congress about it.

One, should Congress have been told about this program, which apparently was never fully implemented? And what do you make of the vice president’s apparent role in telling the CIA not to brief Congress?

FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes, Congress should have been told. We should have been briefed before the commencement of this kind of sensitive program.

Director Panetta did brief us two weeks ago -- I believe it was on the 24th of June -- said he had just learned about the program, described it to us, indicated that he had canceled it and, as had been reported, did tell us that he was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to the Congress. This is...

WALLACE: And what do you think of that?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think this is a problem, obviously. This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock, when we had been hit in a way we’d never contemplated, where we had massive loss of life, where there was a major effort to be able to respond and -- but this -- see, I don’t -- I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.

And I think that if the Intelligence Committees had been briefed, they could have watched the program. They could have asked for regular reports on the program. They could have made judgments about the program as it went along. That was not the case because we were kept in the dark. That’s something that should never, ever happen again.

WALLACE: Senator Cornyn, your reaction to the decision not to tell Congress and the vice president’s apparent role telling the CIA not to tell Congress.

CORNYN: Well, Chris, this, of course, comes on the heels of a statement -- unproven, by the way -- of Speaker Pelosi that the CIA had lied to her about enhanced interrogation techniques, and this looks to me suspiciously like an attempt to provide political cover to her and others.

I agree with Senator Feinstein -- the CIA should brief the Congress. Congress should exercise responsible oversight. But to trot out the vice president and say he’s the one that’s at fault -- this is -- unfortunately sounds like a new theme where they still want to blame the Bush-Cheney administration for the economy and for other things that, frankly, are in the -- squarely within the...

FEINSTEIN: Well...

CORNYN: ... control of...

WALLACE: Finally, if I may...

CORNYN: ... this administration.

WALLACE: ... because we are running out of time, and I have one other issue I want to discuss with you -- and along those lines, there’s another story in the paper today, Senator Cornyn, that Attorney General Holder is leaning towards appointing a criminal prosecutor to investigate whether or not CIA personnel tortured terror detainees after 9/11. Good idea?

CORNYN: So after the Obama administration leaves, the subsequent administration will conduct a grand jury to determine whether the president or any person in this administration should be indicted and prosecuted.

This is a terrible trend. And I hope that the attorney general listens to the president, who says, “We need to look forward, not backward.” This is high-risk stuff, because if we chill the ability or the willingness of our intelligence operatives and others to get information that’s necessary to protect America, there could be disastrous consequences.

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, you get the last word.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don’t know whether Senator Cornyn has read those inspector general reports, but I have, and they are chilling. And I understand why the attorney general is where he is. I read the Newsweek story. I know no more about it than that.

I don’t know whether he will choose to investigate, but that’s certainly his independent option, and...

WALLACE: Would you -- would you favor a criminal investigation of CIA personnel and how they treated these terror detainees?

FEINSTEIN: As you know, the Intelligence Committee has hired staff, has an investigation under way, is going through each one of the high-value detainees, their interrogation, their detention, their treatment, the techniques that were used on them, in what combination, over what period of time.

And that material hopefully will be before us within the next six to eight months, and we will be able to consider it, make findings, recommendations, and the committee will also consider whether to release it publicly.

I think this is an independent I.G. I would hope they would let us do our report. But he’s going to do what he’s going to do.

WALLACE: Senators, we’re going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you both so much for joining us and, among other things, previewing those confirmation hearings. We’ll all be watching tomorrow.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

CORNYN: Thank you.

WALLACE: Thank you.

About Heather

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.