Tag Archives: Senate Intelligence Committee

Comey sets the table

James Comey’s testimony before a U.S. Senate committee is going to send even more shockwaves through the nation’s capital.

The former FBI director is going to tell the Intelligence Committee that Donald J. Trump pressured him repeatedly to back off an investigation into whether Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had done something wrong while conferring with Russian government officials.

Oh, but wait. Now comes the president’s lawyer who says Trump feels “vindicated” because Comey supposedly told the president he wasn’t under “investigation” personally.

Is that vindication? We’ll have to await the Q&A from senators.

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/336848-comeys-dramatic-account-rocks-washington

Americans are going to hear Comey say he was “concerned” about the president’s repeated pressure. Will we hear the ex-FBI boss declare that he believes there was an attempt to obstruct justice? Don’t hold your breath. My hunch is that such a determination will have to come from special counsel Robert Mueller — Comey’s old friend and former colleague. Mueller has taken the lead on investigation this Russia matter and whether there was “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian hackers who were seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

I do not believe that Comey’s testimony will “vindicate” the president. Nor will it convict him. It is likely to keep the post at full boil while the special counsel and his team do their work to uncover the truth.

Let’s call it James Comey Day

I guess some of the TV news networks think Thursday is going to be a big day.

At least one of them, CBS News, is planning to pre-empt its daytime programming to broadcast the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing featuring former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey is going to speak publicly about his firing by Donald J. Trump, as well as the conversations the two men had prior to Comey’s dismissal.

Hey, it’s a big deal, man!

Comey was heading up an FBI investigation into allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian government agents and hackers who were seeking to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Then he got canned. Just like that! 

Vice President Pence said the dismissal had “nothing to do” with the Russia probe. Then the president told NBC News that, yep, he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing.”

So, let’s ask former top federal cop what went down, shall we?

Let us also determine which man to believe: a meticulous note-taker such as Comey or a serial liar such as the man who fired him.

Get the popcorn and the soda ready.

Comey set to return to center stage

I understand James Comey is a good lawyer.

He knows the consequences of committing perjury. He understands that when he takes an oath he is bound to tell the whole truth.

The former FBI director, whom Donald J. Trump fired just the other day, is heading to Capitol Hill in a few days to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Reports now are surfacing that Comey is going to tell senators that the president sought to meddle in an investigation Comey was leading. Trump is the focus of the investigation, which now has been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. Comey said the FBI was examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump denies collusion. He has told TV networks and other media that he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing” and Comey’s investigation into the actions of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also reportedly blabbed as much to Russian dignitaries who were visiting him in the Oval Office; the Russians have denied that Trump said discussed Comey.

Hmmm.

Comey on the stand

Now we’ll get to hear from the former FBI director himself. I’m quite certain that senators — particularly those on the Democratic side of the dais — are going to get right to the heart of the Big Question.

Did the president of the United States — in your opinion — obstruct justice by asking the FBI director to shut down his probe of Flynn and the campaign’s Russia connection?

Be sure you tell us the whole truth, Mr. Comey.

Maybe the Senate panel can hold it together

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner have something in common.

They are the chairman and ranking Democratic member, respectively, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is in the midst of a probe into whether Russian spooks colluded with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to influence the 2016 election.

But their commonality? It rests in the dysfunction occurring with the House Intelligence Committee. Chairman Devin Nunes is under increasing fire over allegations that he has compromised himself because of his coziness with the president.

The House panel has been high-centered over the controversy. Meanwhile, Sens. Burr and Warner pledge to remain cooperative and to ensure that their committee proceeds with all deliberate speed to get the facts out.

Many of their fellow Americans — including yours truly — are hoping that they can uphold their pledge.

My own belief is that there needs to be a special prosecutor to do the job that Congress seems incapable of doing, which is to scour the evidence completely to learn whether there was any collusion.

However, I am ready to accept Burr and Warner making a solemn promise to keep their investigation on track.

Rest assured, senators. A lot of us out here are going to hold your feet to the fire.

Trump relies on talking heads for his wiretap allegation?

Donald J. Trump is in command of the world’s most impressive intelligence-gathering network.

He is commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine.

Does he rely on those immense tools to inform him of the “fact,” as he put it, that Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign offices at Trump Tower?

Oh, no. He relied on talking heads, such as Fox News’s Bret Baier and Sean Hannity; he also has relied on news stories in the “failing” New York Times that “talked about wiretaps.”

With that, the president of the United States launched his Twitter tirade alleging that the former president broke the law.

In the meantime, Senate and House intelligence committee leaders — both Democrat and Republican — say they have “no evidence” of any wiretapping occurring at Trump Tower. Ditto, said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It ain’t there. The president now wants us to believe yet another lie?

Major attack possible in U.S.? Do ya think?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says now is the time for “vigilance” after the massacre at the offices of a Paris satirical magazine.

Well, what do you know? The former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is demonstrating an impressive command of the obvious.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/229145-dem-senator-major-attack-in-the-realm-of-possibility

Feinstein, a California Democrat, is trying to alert Americans to the possibility of a “major” terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I would argue that we’ve been on high alert ever since 9/11. And we should be on alert, possibly for as long as terrorists exist in the world.

The shootout at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has stunned the world. Twelve people died in the melee. Three of the assassins were killed by French commandos; a fourth remains on the lam.

The Paris mayhem has brought to the fore once again that terrorists will do whatever it takes to strike fear in the world. We’ve known this all along, even before 9/11.

But we let our guard down and on that Tuesday morning 13 years ago we paid a terrible price.

I appreciate Sen. Feinstein’s word of extreme caution.

However, I hope she’s preaching to the proverbial choir.  We damn sure ought to be on high alert already.

Rectal feedings were 'necessary'?

Someone will have to explain to me how the practice of “rectal feeding” becomes a medical necessity.

Yet it’s a practice that Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove defended this morning on Fox News Sunday.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/14/karl-rove-torture_n_6322774.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

The term was revealed in that Senate Intelligence Committee report on the treatment of terror suspects by the Bush administration immediately after the 9/11 attacks. One of the revelations is the practice of “rectal feeding,” which Rove said this morning was a “medical necessity.” The report issued by the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic members said otherwise.

Maybe I don’t get out much, but this practice is new to me.

As I understand it, the procedure involves pureeing food and then inserting it into individuals’ rectum. This is how suspects are, um, fed by their captors. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s apparently quite a painful process. It inflicts misery on those receiving these food injections.

If the suspect is refusing to eat as a form of protest, aren’t there other ways to “feed” them? Sedation, perhaps, and an intravenous line inserted into their arm would seem to do the trick.

The Senate report suggests the procedure was meant to torture the suspects and to get them to reveal battle plans or other “actionable intelligence” to which our military and spooks could respond.

It seems to me that rectal feeding goes a good bit beyond what is acceptable.

Leave it, though, to Karl Rove to defend, as necessary, a practice that is ay beyond disgusting.

 

It's Cheney who's 'full of crap'

Richard Bruce Cheney doesn’t believe, apparently, in the same America many millions of others do.

Oh sure. Many millions of other Americans support the former vice president’s world view. I respect that. I just happen to fundamentally disagree with Cheney. No surprise there, right?

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/cheney-slams-senate-torture-report-says-practices-were-effective?CID=sm_FB

It’s that report on torture that’s got Cheney all wadded up.

The report released by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats asserts that the United States employed illegal interrogation techniques on alleged terrorists taken captive immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Cheney’s view — as if anyone expected otherwise — is to say the “enhanced interrogation techniques” produced “actionable intelligence” that protected Americans from further attacks.

The report says otherwise.

I also am going to climb aboard the same wagon as a bona fide American war hero, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, who speaks from personal experience in expressing his support for what the Intelligence Committee Democrats say about torture techniques. McCain’s view of those “EITs” is formed by his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He said that captives will say anything to stop the pain and that the information they give to the enemy is more bogus than believable.

Cheney continues to defend tactics that are not in keeping with the values we hold dear in this country. Yes, we’re at war with some loathsome organizations that employ equally loathsome tactics on the people they capture. Does that mean we should sink to that level of barbarism? No.

It means we employ our own sophisticated interrogation techniques to glean information.

And no, no one is saying we should kiss the captives on the cheek, as some have suggested.

What the Senate panel is saying, as I understand it, is that the United States must be true to its claim of being better than the enemy we’re seeking to destroy.

 

 

 

McCain knows — and hates — torture

In the name of all that is sane and sensible, if only the rest of America would listen to John McCain when he talks about torture.

The Arizona Republican knows what torture is and what it does. He speaks from intense and deeply moving personal experience.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/09/john-mccain-says-cia-tort_n_6295986.html

And that is why he needs to be heeded when he condemns the practice of torturing suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, as detailed in a Senate Intelligence Committee summary report.

McCain is the only member of the U.S. Senate who’s been tortured by the enemy with whom we were at war. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. So when this man speaks of torture, he knows of which he speaks.

At issue is whether the techniques employed on those suspected terrorists produced “actionable intelligence” in the war against international terrorism. McCain believes such interrogation techniques drive captives to say anything to avoid being tortured.

“I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence,” McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor. “I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.

“Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored,” McCain said.

The Republican has been fairly surly and gruff in his criticism of President Obama, who beat him in the 2008 race for the presidency. But the president vowed to erase these interrogation techniques from our country’s policy manual. To that end, McCain has endorsed his former foe’s initiative.

The torture tactics used on the terror suspects well could have been counterproductive as we’ve continued to search for and eliminate terrorist leaders.

What’s more, as McCain has noted, they run counter to the belief that “even captured enemies” must be protected from barbaric treatment.

A presidential pardon may be in order

The beans are spilled. The cat’s out of the bag. The CIA just might have broken some laws when it detained suspected terrorists and subjected them to torture techniques immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

The spy agency says otherwise, that it broke no laws.

U.S. Senate Democrats on the Intelligence Committee insist that the torture techniques were real and allege that they broke U.S. law.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/opinion/the-senate-report-on-the-cias-torture-and-lies.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

The New York Times editorial board refers to the findings in the just-released Senate summary of the “enhanced interrogation” as a sign of “depravity” that defies comprehension.

The thought has occurred to me. Perhaps it’s not an original thought, but I’ll toss it out there anyway.

Given that there’s really no serious need to prosecute anyone for alleged criminal activity, perhaps a presidential pardon would be in order.

Go ahead and snicker. This is a serious suggestion, even absent any formal criminal charges being filed against the principals involved — namely President Bush, then-CIA director George Tenet, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hey, President Ford pardoned his immediate predecessor in the White House, Richard Nixon, for crimes he may have committed while covering up the Watergate burglary. That was the right call in 1974. A similar pardon just might be the right call now.

Let’s have the debate over whether the suspected terrorists were tortured illegally. Both sides will vent. Both will have their say.

There well might be an inclination in some circles to prosecute those in charge at the time. Others will be declare that there’s no need now to punish those who might have committed a crime.

That’s where President Obama can step in.

He’s got the power to issue summary pardons. This well could be the time to act.