Figuring out how to right the constitutional imbalance between the branches of government, as exposed by this CIA assault on Congress, is very complicated. But doing something about lying isn’t. You need to hold people accountable for it.
Senator Mark Udall also wants Brennan gone:
Udall’s statement is noteworthy in particular because he is fighting one of the most competitive Senate races this year. The first-term senator is neck-and-neck with Rep. Cory Gardner in a campaign that may determine control of the Senate in 2015. While the Rocky Mountain State’s electorate is certainly more libertarian-leaning than the mean and Udall has long been a vocal civil libertarian, it’s still noteworthy that a candidate in a swing state is taking such a firm stance on this issue. It shows the sea change in American political attitudes around surveillance and the general conduct of the war on terror over the past decade as both parties have become more dovish and more skeptical of the intelligence community.
Benjamin Wittes, who is generally supportive of government surveillance, chews out the CIA:
Improper access to oversight committee computers? Filing a crimes report lacking factual support—apparently misleading the lawyer who filed it in the process? Improperly accessing committee staff email? And then talking to investigators about the whole business in a fashion less than truthful? It’s an ugly picture, utterly unlike the recent NSA scandals in apparently involving all sorts of violations of the rules. And it will have repercussions, as it no doubt should.
Friedersdorf thinks Brennan knows too much to get canned (which only increases the necessity of doing it):
Perhaps Obama has always believed and continues to believe that Brennan is doing a heckuva job. But just as secret torture acted as a cancer in the U.S. government, encompassing acts so barbaric and criminal that, even recently, the CIA spied on a Senate subcommittee investigating the subject, America’s semi-secret policy of semi-targeted killing rendered everyone involved complicit in activities sufficiently dubious that all desire their secrecy. Would you fire a guy who knows as much about your most morally fraught acts as Brennan knows about who Obama has killed in secret? Yeah, me neither. This isn’t the biggest cost of presidents who hide arguably illegal actions by declaring them state secrets. But it is certainly one of the costs.
Corn wonders why Brennan lied:
Why did he put out a false cover story? Was he bamboozled by his own squad? Was he trying to stonewall?
Drum is underwhelmed by the Senate’s response:
If this affair had persuaded a few senators that maybe our intelligence chiefs are less than totally honest about what they do, it might have done some good. But it doesn’t seem to have done that. With only a few exceptions, they’re outraged when the CIA spies on them, but that’s about it.
Noah Rothman expects a major conflict:
The outrage over the CIA’s claimed abuse of authority was bipartisan. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the allegations against the spy agency “dangerous to a democracy.” “Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” Graham said at the time. “I’m going to get briefed on it. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA, if it’s true.” War, it would seem, is imminent.
I wouldn’t hold my breath. But I’m hoping.
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