Friday, May 15, 2009

Lieberman, Bond & Boehner - Incredibly Gullible or Simply Dishonest?

April Fools Joke 1932 - Woman milking a cow with an elephant's head

Spencer Ackerman has a post up on his blog about his view of the CIA's veracity in the Nancy Pelosi briefing story that is spot on. 

More evidence needs to be introduced before concluding that the CIA lied to Pelosi. But no additional evidence needs to be introduced to conclude that it wouldn't.

I have to laugh at people like Joe Lieberman and John Boehner who seriously expect us to believe that the CIA would never lie. They are either incredibly gullible or they are simply dishonest. 

"No, on that specific point I totally disagree," Lieberman told MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell. "Over the 20 years I've been here, I've been briefed constantly by the CIA, and I'd say they've told me the truth as they see it."

Boehner defended the agency’s record and said it was “hard” for him to imagine “anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress.”

Thankfully Lawrence O'Donnell remembered this little tidbit from 1994 where Patrick Moynihan reminded everyone about how the CIA lied to Barry Goldwater in 1984 and then ran a disinformation campaign against him and just like with Pelosi (CIA log released May 8 while Pelosi was in Jordan) they started their disinformation campaign while he was out of the country and unable to immediately defend himself.

Below is part of the 1994 Senate transcript that includes where Moynihan details the CIA's campaign of lies against Barry Goldwater in 1984 and where we also see some interesting comments from Moynihan referencing our current Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates

Note: In the Ackerman post referenced above, one of the people commenting, cbl2, also clues us in to this priceless little tidbit about this same time period:

oh, and just for fun: Addington was an assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1981 to 1984

The Transcript


Mr. MOYNIHAN. Madam President, it is with no pleasure I rise on this occasion. Rather, I rise with a sense of responsibility to the committee and to the body, to recount experiences of another time in which the intelligence community has been very much less than candid and open with respect to matters that the Intelligence Committee should have been informed about.

There has been some discussion in recent days concerning the failure of the intelligence community to notify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the new headquarters of the National Reconnaissance Office. This is not new. This is not the first time such a thing has happened, nor will it be, I fear, the last such incident, while the existing culture--if I could use that large word--of the intelligence community, of the national security state, of the secrecy system, stays in place.

I served for 8 years on the Intelligence Committee. I joined it the first year after it was created. And in those 8 years I was very closely associated with Barry Goldwater, a man revered in this institution not least because he was incapable of lying. For 4 years I was the vice chairman of the committee and he was chairman and we spent a very great deal of time together. At that time there was an understanding, which I am sure exists today, that there are some matters which, if the chairman and vice chairman are notified about, it can be considered that the Senate has been informed. Unfortunately, this is an Agency which has lied to Congress before. Egregiously.

Perhaps the most extraordinary example was the concerted campaign launched in the spring of 1984 when it emerged that the Central Intelligence Agency had mined harbors in Nicaragua--arguably a violation of international law and treaty, but inarguably a significant anticipated action. As I recall the language of the statute, `the committee will be informed of significant anticipated activities.' We were not.

The world knew about the mining of the harbors immediately--it was the intention that the world should know. But that our Government had done this, was not known.

In the spring, the Wall Street Journal reported that this had been an action of the Agency--Mr. David Rogers, specifically. Barry Goldwater was outraged. He had not been told of something as important as the mining of the Nicaraguan harbors, and he so stated. Whereupon the Agency began what Robert R. Simmons, the former staff director of the committee, said `can only be described as a domestic disinformation campaign against the U.S. Congress in which they alleged that the intelligence committees had been fully briefed on the harbor mining program.' The attack on Chairman Goldwater was vicious.

They went to the New York Times--which was concerned about this--and told the Times that, no, Senator Goldwater was informed. It is simply that Senator Goldwater is not as keen as he may once have been; that he does not remember everything that happens; that, in effect, senility had set in. And the Times--given the seriousness of the charge and the manifest sincerity with which they were told by Agency officials, regretfully, reported that the Senator has begun to lose it. Repeatedly the Agency claimed that he was told, he just cannot recall having been told. It was a lie, an audacious lie, about a revered Member of this body. And faced with it, and the proposition that it was not going to be retracted, I--then acting chairman in Senator Goldwater's absence--announced I would resign in protest.

When the announcement appeared--it was Easter time and Senator Goldwater was in the Far East--it caused something of a ruckus. And, in time, the then-director, Mr. William J. Casey, came to the committee, we then met up on the 4th floor of the Capitol here, and apologized. He acknowledged the committee had not been adequately informed.

Part of the disinformation operation involved an address given at the Naval Academy--the Naval Academy, I say to Senator Warner--where we teach standards of truthfulness. Mr. McFarland, then National Security Adviser to the President, went to the Naval Academy and told the cadets that Senator Goldwater and the committee had been informed--lied to the cadets.

Subsequently, Mr. McFarland testified before the Iran-Contra Committees on May 12, 1987--we are now more than 3 years from then.

In many ways, Iran-Contra arose out of the mining of the harbors, money was cut off, and so forth.

Here is an exchange between Senator Sarbanes and Mr. McFarland who, I want to say, has made clear he wished he had never done any of those things.

Reading from transcript:

Mr. Sarbanes. Did you know about the mining of the Nicaraguan harbor?

Mr. McFarland. Yes, sir.

Mr. Sarbanes. Did you think that should have been consulted with the Intelligence Committees?

Mr. McFarland. Yes, sir.

Mr. Sarbanes: It wasn't done.

Mr. McFarland: No, sir.

But the disinformation campaign almost prevailed and never really got resolved.

Following that episode, Director Casey signed the agreements negotiated with the Intelligence Committees which came to be known as the Casey accords. They were specifically designed to see that something like the mining of the harbors never happened again without the committee being informed. Not that the President could not do what he ordered done, but the committee would be informed.

One was signed while Mr. Goldwater and I were chairman and ranking member, and another one was signed a year later. Whereupon the Agency proceeded to lie to the committees again. During all of this period, the Iran-Contra episode took place and the committee was never involved. Indeed, a second agreement was made the following year which confirmed how well it was working, but it was never informed.

Madam President, I discussed this disinformation matter with Mr. Gates when he was under consideration for the post of--Madam President, may I have 2 additional minutes, if I may ask Senator DeConcini?

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Boxer). Does the Senator yield 2 minutes?

[Page: S11385]

Mr. DeCONCINII yield up to 5 minutes and I ask the time come off the pending amendment.

Mr. MOYNIHAN. Madam President, I will not take that much time.

At the time Mr. Gates was being considered for the Director of the Agency, I raised with him specifically the question of the disinformation campaign directed against Senator Goldwater, and he undertook to look into this and to clear up the record, which now all agree Mr. Casey and Mr. McFarland had lied about Barry Goldwater.

Mr. Gates did not do a thing. He was there, I recall, for 4 years and never lifted a finger to say the Agency had done what it ought never have done and what it ought not do again.

If I can say, Dean Acheson saw all this coming. In his book, `Present at the Creation,' he wrote:

I had the gravest foreboding about this organization and warned the President that * * * neither he, the National Security Council, nor anyone else would be in a position to know what (the CIA) was doing or to control it.

It is a simple thought that secrecy corrupts. It corrupts analysis. Two years before the Berlin Wall came down, the CIA formally estimated the per capita gross domestic product in East Germany to be higher than West Germany. In his memoir, George P. Shultz, Secretary of State, recalls in 1986 when then President Reagan and he were thinking that perhaps they might have some success with Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gates, then the Director of Intelligence, informed him, Mr. Secretary, `the Soviet Union is a despotism that works.'

You can reach out and touch the day that the Soviet Union would collapse but, no, secrecy inhibits the correction of error. The error simply gets compounded and extended, and it leads to events such as misleading the Congress. It has done so in the past and will do so in the future, so long as it continues.

The secrecy system is still in place. You may know that we have an Information Security Oversight Office which counts the annual creation of secrets. Its most recent report shows that last year, 6,408,688 secrets were created. Can you imagine that we know there were 6,408,688 secrets created last year, a 1-percent increase in the first year of the Clinton administration?

This will go on until we do something about it, addressing it directly. We have created a Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, which is even now in the process of being assembled. I understand Mr. Hamilton in the House has agreed to be on the Commission and I have done so on the Senate side. Other Members of Congress and private citizens will be appointed. The mission of the Commission is of singular importance to the Republic. It is no less than examining ways to reclaim the liberties of the people. I welcome the proposal by the Senator from Virginia for a review of current intelligence needs. I ask to be made a cosponsor.

Update: Like Lieberman and Boehner evidently Kit Bond is also a card carrying member of the "gullible/dishonest" club. Here is video from Countdown where Bond also insists that the CIA doesn't lie. I've updated my headlineon this post to reflect the addition of the newest member of this elite club.

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Update 2: James Fallows at the Atlantic says that because  Senator Bob Graham, who has a reputation for honesty,  also says that the CIA never briefed him on waterboarding it shifts the burden of proof to the CIA.

So if he says he never got the briefing, he didn't. And if the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf challenges him, they are stupid and incompetent as well as being untrustworthy. This doesn't prove that the accounts of briefing Pelosi are also inaccurate. But it shifts the burden of proof. 

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