Thanks again to Judy….the plot thickens continually doesn’t it?-A.M.

House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer--pictured here at a February 2013 press conference--were among those who voted down a bill yesterday that would have reined in the NSA. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Staff
March 20th, 2014
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Over the past few months, one thing we keep hearing over and over again from defenders of the intelligence community is that everything is under control and “legal” because Congress has powerful oversight. We’ve shown, repeatedly, how that’s something of a joke. The intelligence community has lied repeatedly, has withheld documents and is generally nonresponsive to oversight attempts by Congress. And, with the reports that the CIA spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, we also find out that for all the bluster and talk of oversight, folks in Congress are actually scared by the intelligence community.

In response to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s speech last week calling out the CIA for spying on her staffers, Rep. Nancy Pelosi was asked to comment and gave what might be the most revealing comments to date as to why Congress is so scared of the CIA:

“I salute Sen. Feinstein,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference of the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I’ll tell you, you take on the intelligence community, you’re a person of courage, and she does not do that lightly. Not without evidence, and when I say evidence, documentation of what it is that she is putting forth.”

Pelosi added that she has always fought for checks and balances on CIA activity and its interactions with Congress: “You don’t fight it without a price because they come after you and they don’t always tell the truth.

A few months back, the ACLU had posted something questioning whether or not the intelligence community might be blackmailing Congress. And, quite frequently when we write about the intelligence community, we see suggestions in the comments that certain politicians probably cover for the NSA and CIA because they know what those agencies ”have on them.” I’ve always dismissed those kinds of claims as being a bit far-fetched, even if they have plenty of historical precedent. So far, there’s certainly been no direct evidence of that happening.

And yet… Pelosi’s comments certainly seem to hint at even more nefarious activity by the intelligence community against politicians who dare to actually do the job of oversight. The point of that ACLU post linked above is that, even if it’s not happening, the fact that we can’t definitively rule it out is a serious problem for democracy. And just the fact that some of the most powerful members of Congress, who are theoretically in charge of oversight, are now publicly admitting that they’re scared of how the CIA fights back when they take them on, suggests that the intelligence community really is rotten to the core. And Congressional oversight, as it stands today, is clearly not able to deal with the issue by itself.