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Silvestre Reyes Wants Obama to Keep McConnell, Hayden « The Washington Independent

Just when I figured no one was seriously proposing President-elect Obama keep Michael Hayden at the CIA, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence goes one better. Chris Strohm reports for CongressDaily:

The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat said Tuesday he has recommended that President-elect Barack Obama keep the country’s current national intelligence director and CIA chief in place for some time to ensure continuity in U.S. intelligence programs during the transition to a new administration.

Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said he also recommended to Obama’s transition team that some parts of the CIA’s controversial alternative interrogation program should be allowed to continue. He declined to say what he specifically recommended, however.

Thanks to reader MM for pointing this out to me. Reyes is saying McConnell and Hayden should stay on for a short period of time “for continuity.” Why? McConnell has a history of lying to Congress about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Hayden is a self-described architect of a very clearly illegal surveillance effort. The intelligence community will have innumerable career professionals remaining on board to transit between administrations. Leadership is in place to set a tone — and clearly this is a tone Reyes is fine with.

Reyes also makes clear that he’s pretty soft on torture:

“We don’t want to be known for torturing people. At the same time we don’t want to limit our ability to get information that’s vital and critical to our national security,” he added. “That’s where the new administration is going to have to decide what those parameters are, what those limitations are.”

How charming. The chairman of the House intelligence committee just framed the debate as between effective torture and ineffective compliance with the law. Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the actual debate on torture knows how clearly fallacious this is. And yet this is the man in charge of one of the two oversight committees for the intelligence community. Maybe it shouldn’t just be those leaders who lose their jobs.

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