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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 16, 2014

 
The oversight charade

by digby

This is why "oversight" is never going to be an adequate check on secret state power:
[T]he communications between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the White House on issues from Iraq, to the Bergdahl swap and the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are a hot topic to Feinstein’s committee colleagues. Extensive interviews with 10 members of her panel in both parties revealed a flawed process that will require leaps of faith by both sides to repair.

Senior Intelligence Committee member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) guffawed when asked whether the administration’s information pipeline to the committee is broken.
“It’s nonexistent,” he said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the relationship is at an all time nadir. And Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) called the latest misstep on Bergdahl’s transfer “either outrageous, outrageous arrogance or total incompetence.”

“The majority of us are together on this. … I think it’s the White House’s move” on picking up the pieces, Coats said.
Sounds bad, right? But then you have to recognize that the administration's obsession with stopping leaks --- something that most of the committee shares when it's leak they don't approve of --- is at the heart of it:
If he had gotten notice, Chambliss said he would have gone public in opposition — just as he did two years ago when rumors of the release of Taliban fighters from Guantanamo rippled through Washington.

“I’d have raised holy Hell,” he said. “Absolutely. I did last time and I would again.”
You have to give the administration points for consistency, anyway. They really do believe that preventing leaks is worth sacrificing normal constitutional processes for. The Senators, on the other hand, are not quite so reliable. They leak and then they decry leaking, depending on the president and the issue and their own concerns.  The only kind of leaking the administration will stand for are the official leaks to their official stenographers. They don't see the oversight responsibilities as any more of a necessity than the freedom of the press. And I think they are probably no different than any other administration in this --- since the creation of the Deep State after WWII (and the permanent boogeymen who are always trying to kill us in our beds) at least.

"Oversight" will never be enough.  The free press and protections for whistleblowers have to be part of the mix if we expect to keep the government from going off the deep end with their police and military power. It would be very nice if we had a neater and less adversarial way to do this, but we don't.  Like our imperfect justice system and democracy itself, it just happens to be the best we can do.

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