Reprinted from Reader Supported News
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper recently fought off Congressional attempts to require the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to disclose more information than currently called for on the promotions and firings of high-ranking employees, despite earlier promises to do so.
A bill in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence would have required the DNI to "regularly provide names of those being promoted to top positions and disclose any significant and credible information to suggest that the individual is unfit or unqualified." Clapper opposed that language, according to the Washington Post.
Clapper reportedly objected to the bill because of the "bureaucratic workload" that it would have generated. But the Post added that other sources said that U.S. "spy chiefs chafed at the idea of subjecting their top officials to such congressional scrutiny" and threatened that some candidates could drop out of contention for senior positions because of the reporting requirement.
As a result, the bill that passed called for the DNI to provide only "the information the Director determines appropriate." The original language had been written and submitted by the CIA's biggest cheerleader and apologist on Capitol Hill, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Feinstein lauded the final legislation and said that it would ensure that oversight committee members would "know the names of senior intelligence community leaders." She added that the language is a "good first step." Wow. Senate overseers will now know the names of the people they're supposed to oversee.
Feinstein, who actually showed some courage when she took on CIA director John Brennan over the CIA spying on Senate staff members and over the Senate Torture Report, should be ashamed of herself. At least, she should be embarrassed that the DNI humiliated her by essentially telling her to go fly a kite.
Feinstein knows exactly what the CIA's personnel problems are. She's even spoken about them in the Intelligence Committee. These problems include the fact that "numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems -- including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others -- that should have called into question their suitability to participate in the CIA's detention and interrogation problem," according to Senate Intelligence Committee investigators.
In fact, in the Senate Torture Report, committee investigators wrote that "CIA Headquarters managers seem to be selecting either problem, underperforming officers, new, totally inexperienced officers, or whomever seems to be willing and able to deploy at any given time." Qualifications have nothing to do with promotion or assignment. Indeed, the old adage that those officers who could get on their knees in front of the director fast enough would be the first to be promoted appears true.
Certainly, no intelligence service would want problem, underperforming, or inexperienced officers running things. But what about officers who beat their wives? What about officers who sexually harass subordinates? What about officers who play fast and loose with their accounting and who spend taxpayer money on prostitutes for themselves and their sources? All of these things happen. I know because I worked for some of these "leaders."
Not all blame for this sorry state of affairs rests with the CIA. I also blame the oversight committees. The CIA has proven over the decades that it needs adult supervision. Otherwise, CIA officers and leaders will seek to get away with whatever is possible, without thought to legality, ethics, or the wisdom of doing what they're doing. Congress has to stand up.
Former oversight committee chairmen who had the guts to stand up to the CIA are gone. Frank Church is dead. Pat Moynihan is dead. It's time for Congressional leaders to put their foot down on DNI and CIA intransigence and lead.
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