Holt Calls for Next Church Committee on CIA

By
Monday, July 27, 2009 at 6:00 am
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) (rushholt.com)

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) (rushholt.com)

After years of examining CIA operations of dubious legality, an important member of the House intelligence committee is exploring an option that many in the intelligence community view with apprehension: a comprehensive investigation of all intelligence-community operations over years and perhaps even decades. The model is the famous Church and Pike committees of the 1970s, which exposed widespread CIA lawlessness; created the modern legal and congressional oversight structures for intelligence; and cleaved the history of the CIA into before- and after- periods.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), a progressive who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and chairs a special oversight panel that helps write the intelligence budget, has been increasingly comfortable talking about a new “Church committee.” He floated the idea in an interview with TWI on July 14, again to the Newark Star-Ledger the next day, and even attempted to discuss the Church committee’s precedents for congressional oversight with Lou Dobbs on CNN on July 20.

“I’d like to see something on the scope of the Church committee,” Holt told TWI in a Friday phone interview. The congressman said that it had been a  “few decades” since Congress took a comprehensive inquiry into the intelligence community’s impact on “the relationship between the individual and her or his government, as well as the role that the U.S. plays in other countries around the world, outside of declared military activities.”

Holt said he did not have a concrete proposal prepared for the creation of such an investigation, and was at the stage of seeing what colleagues and members of the intelligence community made of such a move. “There’s agreement with the idea,” he said. “An awful lot of people have not really thought about how many unanswered questions there are or unresolved issues there are out there about how we do intelligence in the United States.”

He declined to name any members of congress with whom he has discussed such an investigation, but said they were members of the House intelligence committee and the oversight panel he chairs. “Are we close to commissioning a study in the way I’m conceiving it? No, not yet,” he said. A House Republican aide, who requested anonymity, was unaware of Holt’s early feelers, raising questions about whether Holt’s envisioned inquiry would have Republican support. And a spokesman for Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the House intelligence committee chairman, did not return a request for comment.

Many in the intelligence world and on the right view the committee investigations led by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Rep. Otis Pike (D-N.Y.) as representing an apex of progressive congressional attempts to geld the intelligence community. Empaneled in response to a New York Times article by Seymour Hersh in 1974 reporting widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens, the investigations unearthed other abuses, such as repeated CIA assassination attempts on foreign heads of state. It resulted in the passage of laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent warrantless domestic surveillance and the creation of standing committees in Congress to oversee intelligence activities. Some conservatives view the investigations as an example of congressional overreach. “I think they undermined our capabilities in some respects,” former Vice President Dick Cheney told his biographer, Stephen F. Hayes.

Holt said that he is “not talking about upsetting the applecart, I’m talking about analyzing the full applecart” of intelligence activities. He rejects the idea that such a comprehensive investigation necessarily entails eroding U.S. intelligence capabilities. “Is giving your kid a test in school an inhibition on his free learning?” Hold said. “Sure, there are some people who are happy to let intelligence agencies go about their business unexamined. But I think most people when they think about it will say that you will get better intelligence if the intelligence agencies don’t operate in an unexamined fashion.”

But over the past several years, the intelligence committees and official commissions have peered into intelligence matters repeatedly. In 2002 and 2003, an unprecedented joint House-Senate intelligence committee investigation looked into intelligence work on al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks, work that the 9/11 Commission took as a point of departure. A panel created by the Bush administration examined intelligence work on weapons of mass destruction. The Senate intelligence committee, from 2004 to 2007, undertook a multi-tiered look at intelligence failures preceding the invasion of Iraq. At the moment, the Senate intelligence committee is conducting a study into the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after 9/11, and the House intelligence committee on which Holt serves is examining recent revelations of a shuttered CIA program believed to be tied to strengthening assassinations capabilities.

Holt said that such inquiries still left a host of unexamined activities. “There’s a lot to look at, [and] not just who told what to whom, or the treatment of detainees or [renditions], or interrogation, or domestic surveillance or national security letters or on and on and on,” he said. “Church looked at everything since the OSS,” referring to the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era predecessor of the CIA. “The recommendations of the Church committee, in large part, have been eroded, ignored or violated since then. The world situation has evolved, and the technologies, methodology and organizations of the intelligence community have evolved, [and] also the look back then, in a sense, has been forgotten by some.”

Representatives from the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not return messages seeking comment.

Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said that in some respects it was surprising that no one had proposed a Church committee-like investigation. “It’s the shoe that has not dropped yet,” Aftergood said. “The Church committee was established following a series of revelations of disturbing intelligence community activities. To a remarkable extent the series of events precipitating the Church committee has been replicated in recent months and years. The famous December 1974 Seymour Hersh front-page story in The New York Times talking about domestic surveillance [presaged] the December 2005 [James Risen and Eric Lichtblau] story in The New York Times about domestic surveillance.”

Aftergood said that a new Church committee was “overdue,” and disputed the characterization of the 1970s congressional investigations as weakening U.S. intelligence. “While to some people in the intelligence business the name of Frank Church is a dirty word, it’s also true that the structures that emerged from the Church committee benefited intelligence by introducing stability and predictability into intelligence policy,” Aftergood said. “The idea that this was a disaster or an assault on intelligence is shortsighted to the point of misunderstanding. The Church committee yielded the framework that the U.S. intelligence community needed to grow and to regain at least in some measure the confidence of the public and the rest of the government.”

Along those lines, Holt said that he’s heard representatives of the intelligence community say, in “breathtaking honesty and self-awareness,” that a thorough investigation might enable them to better do their jobs. “In a representative democracy, there is a very important role for the legislative branch to help the CIA and the intelligence community determine and understand their proper role and give them the tools and the latitude to carry out” lawful intelligence activities.

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Comments

22 Comments

The Government Will Soon Regulate Our Snacking and Nap Times, Because Democrats Are a Bunch of Communist Pansies; Why Do Democrats Hate Our Freedoms? « Cuter Than Jesus
Pingback posted July 27, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

[...] • Rep. Rush Holt (D – N.J.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is calling for a comprehensive investigation of all intelligence-community operations over years and perhaps even decades, modeled after the famous Church and Pike committees of the 1970s, which exposed widespread CIA lawlessness. That sounds rather significant and ambitious. Let’s assume this is a result of the recent discovery that the CIA was planning to launch an Al Qaeda assassination squad without Congressional approval, and not a diversion from a corruption investigation into Rep. Holt’s activities in New Jersey. [Washington Independent] [...]


Other News and Resources | Secrecy News
Pingback posted July 27, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

[...] agency activities and operations on the scale of the 1976 Church Committee investigation.  See “Holt Calls for Next Church Committee on CIA” by Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent, July 27, [...]


lawrenceturner
Comment posted July 27, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

When the CIA was founded, originally as the Office of Strategic Services, wealthy individuals were approached and asked to spy for America. They were asked to do so because they traveled and socialized with the wealthy individuals of other countries. From the very beginning the CIA has been more concerned with the welfare of an elite wealthy class which reflected the biases of that class. The CIA never has been concerned with individuals and has only been concerned with not getting caught breaking the law. The CIA should be abolished as the information that has leaked out over the years has painted a picture of a rogue operation beholden to a wealthy elite concerned only with corporate profits.


Swami_Binkinanda
Comment posted July 27, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

Long past due.


N.J. Congressman Calls for Next Church Committee Investigation of CIA Criminal Activities « Therearenosunglasses’s Weblog
Pingback posted July 28, 2009 @ 11:34 am

[...] Holt Calls for Next Church Committee on CIA [...]


scollins
Comment posted July 29, 2009 @ 12:20 am

IT IS BY FAR WAY WORSE THAN THAT…

CHECK OUT THIS PETITION CREATED BY THE BILL OF RIGHTS DEFENSE COMMITTEE:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/498/t/3535…

IN IT ARE FACTS ABOUT MOST WANTED TERRORISTS CAPTURED IN AMERICA AS A RESULT OF THE 5/26/2004 PRESS CONFERENCE HELD BY THEN U.S.A.G. JOHN ASHCROFT & F.B.I. DIRECTOR ROBERT MUELLER…

HERE IS THAT LINK:

http://www.fbi.gov/page2/may04/bolo052604.htm

THOSE IN CONTROL DELIBERATELY DECIDED 2 COVER-UP THESE CAPTURES AS WELL AS NOT PAYING THE CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED REWARDS THEY BOASTED ABOUT AS IS PRESCRIBED IN THE 14TH AMENDMENT SECTION 4 TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AS WELL AS PUBLIC LAW 98-533…

SINCE THIS IS NOW A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD & CONGRESS' INABILITY 2 THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE THESE FACTS ABOUT SERIOUS U.S. LAWS BEING VIOLATED ='s “THEY ARE ALL ACCOMPLISHES AFTER THE FACTS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL U.S. LAWS…

I BECAME A ENEMY OF THE STATE 4 SUPPOSEDLY DOING WHAT THEY ASKED OF ALL AMERICANS CITIZENS 2 DO IN THAT PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS 2 HELP AUTHORIES CATCH THESE PEOPLE PRONTO…

SO KNOWING WHAT REALLY HAPPENED 2 ME AS WELL AS 1 OF THEM THEY EVENTUALLY DUMPED IN SOMALIA — DID THEY REALLY WANT THESE PEOPLE CAUGHT OR DID THEY REALLY WANT THEM 2 PULL OFF ANOTHER TERRORISTIC ATTACK SO THAT THE CONSTITUTION / BILL OF RIGHTS & THE RULE OF LAW WOULD HAVE EXISTED NO MORE HAD I NOT DID WHAT I DID & STOPPED A IMMINENT UP-COMING ATTACK FROM COMING INTO FRUITION…

WE WILL ALL KNOW THE ACTUAL TRUTH 1 DAY SOON ENOUGH & ALL THOSE INVOLVED WILL SUFFER ETERNAL DAMNATION 4 THEIR TREASON…


Congressman calls for new church committee on CIA « The Lift – Legal Issues in the Fight against Terrorism
Pingback posted July 29, 2009 @ 5:20 am

[...] for intelligence; and cleaved the history of the CIA into before- and after- periods. The Washington Independent has [...]


johnhkennedy
Comment posted July 29, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

A new Church Committee is fine if it doesn't cover up the truth and doesn't get in the way of prosecution of those in the Bush Administration who violated Federal Laws including Torture.

Prosecute all those that tortured in our name, then go after all the other Federal Crimes and violations of our Constitution committed by Bush and Cheney.

If House Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Conyers
does not soon start hearings in his Committee
on the crimes of the Bush Administration

WE Must ALL Call For His Resignation.

SIGN THE PETITIONS
Demanding
both a Commission of Inquiry
and a Special Prosecutor
For All Their Crimes
at ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

http://ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

We must hang in there…
or our own children or grandchildren may in future decades
be tortured and imprisoned without cause because of our failure


Digital :: CityBlog :: Las Vegas CityLife Blogs
Pingback posted July 31, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

[...] on Intelligence but better known as the last Democrat still able to find his balls – wants to bring back today. This entry was posted on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 5:04 pm and is filed under CityBlog. You can [...]


John_Allman
Comment posted August 1, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

For any inquirt to be of value in this day-and-age, the terms of reference have to be broad enough to cover not just the CIA, but any of the family of “three letter agencies” (TLAs). They need to be broad enough to allow targets of Organised Stalking and/or Electronic Harassment to testify. They need to cover outsourced black ops commisioned by TLA staff, and even private sector black ops to which TLA or law enforcement staff turn a blind eye, or which they use official secrecy privileges to help keep deniable, or which enjoy public sector funding, including the indirect funding of placing orders for weapons that have been developed with the benefit of non-consensual human-subject experimentation.

John
Q. Who wrote this?
A. See http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnallmanuk


Congressional Commission to Examine CIA Crimes? | nFiniteEcho.com
Pingback posted August 1, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

[...] don’t know all the particulars as yet of the Holt proposal. Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent quotes the congressman in an 7/27 article that Rep. Holt “did not have a concrete proposal [...]


CIA Tests DoJ Priorities | America Watches Obama
Pingback posted September 4, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

[...] Assuming that Holder does make the right decision, I’m not above speculating on just who leaked the information in question. The source is almost certainly a Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, given the fact that no one knew of this program’s existence until Leon Panetta appeared before that committee and revealed details of the program in June. The top candidate there would have to be Jan Schakowsky, the Illinois Democrat whose made the persecution of Blackwater into her own pet cause. Schakowsky has been a key source for Jeremy Scahill, who wrote Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, a full-throttle hit job of the government contractor. Also in the running is Rush Holt, who recently declared “I’d like to see something on the scope of the Church committee.” [...]


loverevolver4
Comment posted January 28, 2010 @ 9:57 am

My viewpoint is the christian church should perhaps not get involved in CIA matters because of ramifications and possible damages in the general public’s perception of the church. But sometime needs to be done, we can’t rely on the government to care enough to be willing to expose CIA controversies…


London Kentucky
Comment posted February 1, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

excellent post, keep it up! I will be checking back often :)


London Kentucky
Comment posted February 1, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

excellent post, keep it up! I will be checking back often :)


adidas online
Comment posted June 2, 2010 @ 6:33 am

Thanks for this interesting post,i like it.


Discount Louis Vuitton
Comment posted August 23, 2010 @ 2:21 am

They need to cover outsourced black ops commisioned by TLA staff,


unhappyvictim
Comment posted October 12, 2010 @ 2:06 am

Someone needs to step up to the plate. I'm a victim of multigenerational non consensual experimentation but apparently the reserved the worst and most overt harassment for me. Also, those of us who are victims of experimentation in the form of overt harassment and the use of something “electromagnetic” are shuffled off into the “organized stalking” camp where we could become paranoid and start believing things that have *nothing to do with this experimentation.*

For me this is about human engineering, social engineering, trauma conditioning, cult tactics, something like *neuroimaging* with the use of something electromagnetic and stress conditioning. It's disgusting, unethical and should be both fully exposed and outlawed. I know that the humiliation of any medical or psychology professions may feel when they are exposed to be the unethical criminals that they are will be nothing compared to the extreme pain that I and my family members have undergone.

Enough is enough. We don't need apologies 50 years down the road – we need this to stop now, we need reparations and we need exposure of the situation and guarantees that our children won't have to go through the *ellish life we have had.


Idaho Potatoe
Comment posted October 23, 2010 @ 7:55 am

Frank Church actually helped me on a political matter involving the 1980 Olympic boycott. I also was a former athlete and school record holder. I believe I was experiment on in the Air Force and had permanent damage done to my health when I was in there many years ago. After being injured in the Air Force I could never run competitively again. I gave detailed info to my Congressmen and on several occasions and they did very little. We do need a knew investigation into our national security apparatus. But we all know they would spend too much money and cover up what needs to be exposed the most.


Matthew
Comment posted November 6, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

Excellent post. I know, because I am also a victim of multi-generational, nonconsensual human experimentation, and I've documented some of my experiences here: http://www.brussellsprout.blogspot.com


4874689
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

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3975678
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

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