A leading US senator has said that President Obama knew of an “unprecedented action” taken by the CIA against the Senate intelligence committee, which has apparently prompted an inspector general’s inquiry at Langley.
The subtle reference in a Tuesday letter from Senator Mark Udall to Obama, seeking to enlist the president’s help in declassifying a 6,300-page inquiry by the committee into torture carried out by CIA interrogators after 9/11, threatens to plunge the White House into a battle between the agency and its Senate overseers.
McClatchy and the New York Times reported Wednesday that the CIA had secretly monitored computers used by committee staffers preparing the inquiry report, which is said to be scathing not only about the brutality and ineffectiveness of the agency’s interrogation techniques but deception by the CIA to Congress and policymakers about it. The CIA sharply disputes the committee’s findings.
Udall, a Colorado Democrat and one of the CIA’s leading pursuers on the committee, appeared to reference that surreptitious spying on Congress, which Udall said undermined democratic principles.
“As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight powers and for our democracy,” Udall wrote to Obama on Tuesday.
Preston expects Udall to walk the bold part back soon, perhaps saying he was misinterpreted or taken out of context. But, I wonder. Udall is in an increasingly difficult reelection bid in Colorado, and “standing tall” against abuses of power by an unpopular president might be what his campaign needs.
That aside, if Obama really knew about –and thus at least tacitly approved– espionage by the CIA against a co-equal branch of the government, that raises huge issues, not just of statutory violations, but a constitutional crisis, too.
If it’s as bad as it looks at first glance –If– the House would have to consider impeachment.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)