Deny The DNI

By digby

What in the hell are the Democrats going to do about DNI Michael McConnell? I understand that spooks, by nature and profession, are liars, but this fellow is not supposed to be political, and we are ostensibly in a democracy in which government employees --- all government employees --- work for the people. They are not allowed to lie to the people's representatives, even if they think it's for our own good.

McConnell's position is supposed to be non-partisan and apolitical. And yet he is known to have consciously misled the congress, threatened them with "being responsible for American deaths" if they don't do what he says and, it's quite clear, strategized the FISA bill abortion last August with the White house, which is a big no-no. It's a bad idea to trust anyone with the kind of power this man wields without strenuous oversight. It's political malpractice to trust a man this manipulative and dishonest. He is a problem.

Here's the latest example of his blatant (and disturbingly sloppy, which explains why our intelligence agencies can't find water if they fall out of a boat) misleading of the congress:

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress last week that a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured south of Baghdad.

But new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours and was caused primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.


McConnell has been criticized by Democrats for selectively disclosing classified information and for claiming that "some Americans are going to die" because of public debate over surveillance laws. Earlier this month, McConnell retracted Senate testimony that the new intelligence legislation had helped lead to the capture of terrorism suspects in Germany.

Many Democrats and civil liberties advocates have complained that McConnell and other administration officials exaggerated or misrepresented the Iraq wiretapping episode to score political points, largely by playing down how bureaucratic problems contributed to the delay.

"The idea that this incident has something to do with these soldiers getting killed is just outrageous," said Michael German, a former FBI counterterrorism agent who now works as policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "This is all internal bureaucracy. It has nothing to do with the law."

It really was below the belt. McConnell owes the country an apology for that implication:

Administration officials began highlighting the Iraqi case as a problem in classified briefings with lawmakers over the summer, officials said. McConnell elaborated on the episode on Sept. 20 when he testified before the House intelligence committee. He said that it took "in the neighborhood of 12 hours" to obtain the emergency surveillance order.

"So we had U.S. soldiers who were captured in Iraq by insurgents, and for the 12 hours immediately following their captures, you weren't able to listen to their communications," asked Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M). "Is that correct?"

"That's correct," McConnell answered.

Except, that is a lie:

In fact, the timeline released this week shows that officials in Washington did not begin seeking the warrant until 10 a.m. on May 15 -- more than 86 hours after the three soldiers from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division were reported captured. Authorities had already received approvals for other wiretaps in the case, the timeline shows.

Maj. Webster M. Wright III, public affairs officer for the 10th Mountain Division, said in an e-mail that he was unaware of the wiretap discussions that occurred in Washington.

"We were given everything at the tactical level that we asked for, to include extra troops, intel assets, aviation, CID investigators, analysts and [human intelligence] specialists," Wright said.

This is why all this "trust us, we're keeping the boogeyman rom killing you in your bed" is so dangerous. Michael McConnell has repeatedly lied to congress. You can't trust liars. If they needed this power for legitimate reasons they would have no reason to make up scenarios to justify it. They can always go behind closed doors and share classified information with the people's representatives who are authorized to receive it. Indeed, we expect them to o it. The only conclusion you can come to is that they are using this power for nefarious reasons.

Michael McConnell has given interviews that call his judgment into question. He is a proven liar. He has shown himself to be a tool of the Bush Administration. What in the world is this man doing in charge of some of the most delicate intelligence functions in the government? He had a reputation for rectitude before took the job. but he either became tainted by the Cheney/Addington paranoid vision or he was highly overrated. Either way, the congress should never take his word for anything. There's something very wrong with him.