• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

CIA Lying to Congress?

The CIA has been lying to Congress about somethingoranother for years now, sources tell NYT.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, has told the House Intelligence Committee in closed-door testimony that the C.I.A. concealed “significant actions” from Congress from 2001 until late last month, seven Democratic committee members said.

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.

In an interview, Mr. Holt declined to reveal the nature of the C.I.A.’s alleged deceptions,. But he said, “We wouldn’t be doing this over a trivial matter.”

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, referred to Mr. Panetta’s disclosure in a letter to the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, Congressional Quarterly reported on Wednesday. Mr. Reyes wrote that the committee “has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to.”

Via Twitter, Teresa Kopek is asking me to speculate on the subject matter but, honestly, I haven’t a clue. Presumably, given that waterboarding ended years ago under the Bush administration and has been decried by the Obama administration, it’s not about interrogation techniques.  Otherwise, though, who knows?

And, in the remarkably long series of ways in which Obama is like Bush, we have this entry:

In a related development, President Obama threatened to veto the pending Intelligence Authorization Bill if it included a provision that would allow information about covert actions to be given to the entire House and Senate Intelligence Committees, rather than the so-called Gang of Eight — the Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses of Congress and the two Intelligence Committees.

Obama, like Bush, is right.  You can’t conduct intelligence activities without safeguarding the most sensitive secrets.  One could argue for sharing beyond committee chairmen and ranking members, certainly, but there’s no logical rationale that a member of, say, the agriculture committee has a need to know.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    One possible, but somewhat boring, story would be fraud or embezzelement. Those cargo planes with pallets of money going into Iraq were crazy.

    A bombshell would be assasinations. Strangely we’d probably react differently to traditional snipers than to the ongoing UAVs and rockets.

    Who gets to pull the UAV trigger on some guy’s house probably does need some oversight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Teresa Kopec says:

    What concerns me is that a Congresswoman on the committee said this morning on MSNBC that PANETTA did not know about the program until this month.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. odograph says:

    Something out of Cheney’s office? That would match everyone’s mental map.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. DC Loser says:

    It must be super duper secret if the director wasn’t privy to it until this month.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Herb says:

    Man, I remember back in May when Nancy Pelosi was saying the CIA lied to Congress. A lot of folks jumped her case.

    Seems they owe the Speaker an apology…

    Just speculating here, but if the deception came from 2001…then it probably didn’t have anything to do with waterboarding, considering Congress wasn’t briefed on that until 2002.

    Perhaps it was something about 9-11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. […] with the latest Democrat talking point. “Driving Republicans To Distraction,” and this nugget is delicious: In a related development, President Obama threatened to veto the pending Intelligence […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. DL says:

    I fail to see the insult when congress people are the most apt liars in existence. In reality, they are professionals at it.
    Besides at least half believe in relative truth (truth that moves around depending upon one’s needs) and couldn’t identify a lie if they wanted to, other than to call the opposition or critics, liars, as does Panetta.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Wayne says:

    Pelosi claim the CIA did not brief her or her staff on water boarding and harsh interrogation techniques when there is documentation and witnesses that claim otherwise. No apology needed for Pelosi. I open to investigating her accusation which she back off from.

    Withholding information is not the same as lying. If you don’t volunteer information or simply refuse to answer a question you are not lying. Guarding secrets in the nature of the CIA. Politicians are masterful at not answering questions. Maybe it because we they do they tend to lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Wayne says:

    Also how about all of Obama’s lies including having an open administration? I won’t even use the liberal standard for lying where someone says something and it turns out to not be true as a lie. Using that standard Obama saying that unemployment rate won’t pass 8.5% would be a lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. The Strategic MC says:

    Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, referred to Mr. Panetta’s disclosure in a letter to the committee’s ranking Republican…

    Silvestre Reyes, doesn’t he owe his Chairmanship to the machinations of Speaker Pelosi? And wouldn’t Pelosi be more than just a little eager to lose the stigma of dishonesty that she collected during her dust-up with the CIA over EIT?

    Hmmm…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Eric Florack says:

    In the end, the “CIA IS LYING” meme is to protect Pelosi and her recent run in with the CIA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. floyd says:

    ” Democrats said that the agency had “misled members” of Congress for eight years.”

    Somebody sure as h&ll did,on every subject, and for a lot more than than the popular term of “eight years”. that they claim that they were innocently hoodwinked.
    We all know that they are as wise as serpents and as gentle as ……well……Serpents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Herb says:

    Geez, Wayne…can’t these things be discussed without injecting the talk-radio counter-factuals into it?

    Pelosi claim the CIA did not brief her or her staff on water boarding and harsh interrogation techniques when there is documentation and witnesses that claim otherwise. No apology needed for Pelosi. I open to investigating her accusation which she back off from.

    Look, I’m not going to defend Pelosi, but I will defend common sense.

    If Nancy Pelosi says she was never briefed on waterboarding, okay…that’s a lie. Bad Nancy.

    This, however, does not absolve the CIA of the lies that Panetta has now admitted to, nor does it make them automatic truth-tellers.

    It’s possible – in fact, it’s likely – that both Nancy Pelosi and the CIA suffer equally from liar-liar-pants-on-fire disease.

    As for this: “Withholding information is not the same as lying. If you don’t volunteer information or simply refuse to answer a question you are not lying.”

    Um…this is an overly technical, morally suspect argument.

    Wouldn’t you feel deceived if you found out that a sexual partner withheld the information that he/she had a venereal disease. They didn’t lie to you, per se…they just didn’t tell you about the crabs. “So sorry. I didn’t lie. I just withheld that information!”

    Yeah right, bud.

    And while I agree that “Guarding secrets in the nature of the CIA,” I don’t think the CIA’s guarding secrets from the people’s representatives in Congress is all that defensible. Who works for who here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. […] CIA Lying to Congress? - Outside The Beltway | OTB […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Wayne says:

    “Look, I’m not going to defend Pelosi,”

    Herb

    Go back and read your first comment which included “Seems they owe the Speaker an apology…”

    There is a difference between withholding information, deception and outright lying. Trying to pretend they are one and the same is dishonest. If you lie under oath in a trial, you are breaking the law. Not volunteering information or a lawyer letting you get away with deceptive language is not. Your VD case is an example of withholding information and is wrong but is not a lie.

    Congress has often leak classified\secret\top secret information in the past that endanger those in the field and they rotate in and out of congress and committees frequently. Not wanting to volunteer information to them would seem wise to me.

    Of course there is a risk of breaking laws put in place by congress but sometime doing what is right is more important than following the law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Wayne says:

    “Who works for who here?”

    They all work for us the citizens and both Congress and CIA keep secrets from us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. tom p says:

    In a related development, President Obama threatened to veto the pending Intelligence Authorization Bill if it included a provision that would allow information about covert actions to be given to the entire House and Senate Intelligence Committees, rather than the so-called Gang of Eight — the Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses of Congress and the two Intelligence Committees.

    Ummmmmm….

    Obama, like Bush, is right. You can’t conduct intelligence activities without safeguarding the most sensitive secrets. One could argue for sharing beyond committee chairmen and ranking members, certainly,

    Obama, like Bush is NOT right. The members of the intelligence commitees are vetted and (I would hope) given full clearance to see and hear all. If not, we have a bigger problem than “the CIA lied”. (They did? I am shocked, SHOCKED I tell you….)

    Also:

    There is a difference between withholding information, deception and outright lying. Trying to pretend they are one and the same is dishonest.

    You are correct Wayne, in the most technical sense, but “A deceit by any other name is still a lie.”

    Congress has often leak classified\secret\top secret information in the past that endanger those in the field and they rotate in and out of congress and committees frequently. Not wanting to volunteer information to them would seem wise to me.

    By that logic, the CIA should withhold information from everyone in gov’t (see Cheney v Valarie Plame).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Herb says:

    Wayne, If I mounted a defense of Nancy Pelosi in my first comment, it was the weakest defense known to mankind. It was a meaningless little quip.

    Condensing my point to something defensible, let me just say this:

    If we were debating whether the government can and should keep secrets from us citizens, then we lost that argument back when my Grandma was a little girl. Yes, they can…and they should! (Especially when they’re talking about launch codes or social security numbers.)

    If we debating whether the government should keep secrets from itself, say the CIA keeping secrets from Congress, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. That defeats the whole purpose of checks and balances. What about accountability?

    Another question, would other government agencies be justified in lying to Congress? Pick the one you hate the most. The IRS. The ATF. The DEA. Whatever. You’d be cool with them deceiving the members of Congress in a closed door briefing? Really? Man…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Wayne says:

    “in the most technical sense, but “A deceit by any other name is still a lie.””

    There is a great deal of difference between withholding information and lying. It is a hell a lot more than a “technical sense”. That is like saying murder and state execution is the same except in the most technical sense.

    How about this why don’t you post your social security number, bank accounts, credit card with the three numbers in back and PIN numbers. By your logic, if you don’t you are lying. Give me a break.

    Herb
    Yes it is a hard balance act to keep a check and balance system and protecting sensitive and often dangerous material. CIA is probably one of the worst about being too secretive. Many personnel from the DOD can attest to that.That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be secretive at all just that being secretive can be overdone.

    If any of the three IRS\DEA\ATF was investigating a member of congress or a close known associate of said congressman, then it would be appropriate to withhold that information especially any details that could get an agent killed. Actually any such request should be reply with something similar to “any request for ongoing investigation needs to filed through the appropriate committee”. However in real life many will answer the Congressman directly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. markm says:

    Man, I remember back in May when Nancy Pelosi was saying the CIA lied to Congress. A lot of folks jumped her case.

    Seems they owe the Speaker an apology…

    It’s two different things if the latest thing is a thing..that is the Pelosi rub with the CIA in May and the new “thing” are seperate. She was specifically talking about the breifing on EIT’s in 2002 to which Panetta said the CIA didn’t lie or mislead congress. That was then and this new “thing” is either a doozer or ground cover for Pelosi (which I would bet money on). If it’s the latter I don’t think it’ll play out well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. G.A.Phillips says:

    They all work for us the citizens and both Congress and CIA keep secrets from us.

    It’s a good thing when it’s TOP SECRET,……WT*!!!!!!!! is in one the several stimulus packages, not so much……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Neo says:

    More sauce for the goose …

    CIA and congressional officials have refused to describe the nature of the covert program, but insisted it is not connected to the CIA’s use of controversial “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. markm says:

    it is not connected to the CIA’s use of controversial “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

    HUZZAH!.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. It’s more than a little obvious that Panetta got orders from Team Obama to cover for Queen Nancy’s BS-spree… but their are other centers of power at Langley that won’t stand for this rubbish.

    Pelosi was every bit as informed on the decision to us EITs as were the GOP… but is now lying about it in an attempt to appease the antiwar left and fulfill specious campaign posturing.

    And apparently Pelosi and Obama forgot something: the CIA KILLS people… it’s in their job description. Did these two really think that these killers were going to just meekly take-one-for-the-team… when the team captain is a lying, incompetent, arrogant nebbish who has basically told them they need to kiss his ring? -please

    Obama really kicked an ant hill with his ill-advised and politically motivated release of Bush Administration memos regarding EITs.

    Let’s have a hearing and get it all out there, shall we? Then watch the rats scatter who attacked Bush for protecting the country from terrorist attack… but who clearly knew what was going on five years before we heard a peep out of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. markm says:

    this new “thing” is either a doozer or ground cover for Pelosi (which I would bet money on)

    It’s more than a little obvious that Panetta got orders from Team Obama to cover for Queen Nancy’s BS-spree

    IF…if this is purely ground cover for Pelosi, this will blow up in their faces. Having said that, there is a story out there where it’s plausible it’s both a lack of clarity by the CIA which is being used to muddy the waters for Pelosi:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090711/ap_on_go_co/us_domestic_surveillance

    This fits the timeline of the “new” CIA lying thingy…..but, it’s not the doozer I thought it would be if this is it. “Too few”….if X congress members knew of the scope of the surveillance and that wasn’t enough, does X+5 members knowing the scope of the surveillance make it all better????.

    I’m sticking with my “SEEEEEE, the CIA lies ALL the time, toljaso” theory to cover for Pelosi. And, being the Pelosi imbroglio hasn’t died, I’d also wager there is some meat at Langley that says she did in fact know more than she has let on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Jqjfkhkd says:

    MFiFkr

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0