Who Wields The Power In Obama’s Intelligence Community? « The Washington Independent
Remember how I wondered on Friday if soon-to-be-White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan and CIA Deputy Director Steve Kappes would be the the real power brokers in President-elect Barack Obama’s intelligence community, despite the announced appointments of Adm. Dennis Blair (Ret.) as director of national intelligence and Leon Panetta as CIA director?
Mark Hosenball of Newsweek, one of the best intelligence reporters there is, has more in this week’s issue about an additional twist in that emerging drama, one that gets at something Daphne blogged yesterday. Progressives in Congress see Panetta as an ally for congressional inquiries into torture:
Officials familiar with the views of Obama’s team insist there’s no massive probe coming. But a senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Oregon’s Ron Wyden, told NEWSWEEK he will push to declassify top-secret CIA interrogation files outlining how the agency came to use methods such as waterboarding; what its legal authorizations were for doing so; and what (if any) evidence exists to demonstrate that such techniques actually worked.
Former acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, you may want to lawyer up.
Wyden’s proposal is something short of a full-fledged congressional probe into torture. But here’s another thing worth considering. Clearly Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the incoming chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, is close with Kappes. Kappes is highly esteemed by the National Clandestine Service — the CIA operatives who’d prefer not to spend the next however-many years under investigation for torture. (Not that this makes Kappes a torturer; this is just the lay of the land as best as I can perceive it.) Will Kappes reach out to Feinstein to block or slow-walk a probe? What does Feinstein seek to do with her committee when it comes to investigating the torture regime of the past seven years? I’ve put the question to her staff.