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November 10, 2005
Will The DoJ Probe The CIA For CYA?

A joint call for Congressional investigations into a rash of recent CIA leaks by Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist may get pre-empted by a criminal probe at the Department of Justice, Jonathan Allen reports for The Hill today:

Rank-and-file members of the House and Senate intelligence committees said they were in the dark yesterday about the timing and logistics of a possible joint investigation into alleged leaks from the Central Intelligence Agency, and there were strong indications that congressional action could be preempted by a potential Justice Department probe. ...

The Washington Post reported last week that the CIA has been operating secret prison camps in foreign countries to interrogate detainees. Many lawmakers said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of such black sites.

At least two lawmakers, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that the intelligence panels should defer to the Justice Department, which is determining whether to launch a criminal investigation into the matter, according to the Associated Press.

A House source familiar with discussions of the proposed congressional probe said he had been told that the Justice Department would be the primary agent for an investigation.

A Justice investigation would create considerably more pressure on the CIA. First and foremost, the FBI would certainly take over the investigation. The FBI's traditional rivalry with the CIA might be just what's needed in rooting out the increasingly transparent effort by some within the agency to undermine the elected government through selected and contextless release of classified information on ongoing operations. Also, the Justice Department will not prove as hesitant to use subpoena power to compel witnesses into court and force them to testify under oath.

As an added benefit, it will remove the incentive for some politicians in Congress to grandstand this into a political circus instead of solving a longstanding cancer in the midst of our intelligence service. The Niger dodge pulled off by Joe Wilson and his wife Jane Bond Valerie Plame only gives a taste of the capability for mischief that an entrenched bureaucracy can create, and apparently does create now, for an administration whose policies don't kowtow to their world view.

Blowing sensitive missions during wartime like the detention facilities and the airline cover can easily cost lives of valuable agents, not to mention the loss of critical information regarding enemy capability and movements. Overt acts that release such information are felonies and require vigorous prosecution, once the perpetrators are identified. It certainly provides a better use of prosecutorial time than an investigation to determine the person who leaked the status of a CIA employee who staged her husband's political credentials so that he could seriously misrepresent the little intelligence the CIA had bothered to gather in the wake of British analysis of Saddam Hussein's efforts to find uranium.

The recent rash of leaks intends on throwing the spotlight off of the CIA's effort with Wilson to derail Bush and turn Plame's husband into a CIA proxy for the 2004 election. Instead, the leakers just found out how much hardball the Bush administration might play to preserve the notion of executive control of foreign policy and protect the American electoral system from government interference.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers, and thanks Glenn for the compliment on the headline ....

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 10, 2005 6:51 AM

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The Captain is too kind. Such acts are treason. [Read More]

Tracked on November 10, 2005 12:59 PM


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