Speaking to Newark Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) goes to the absolute last place the CIA wants to go:
Holt said he believes the investigation, which he also called a review, should be as intense and comprehensive as the probe conducted more than 30 years ago — in the wake of the Watergate scandal — by a special committee headed by U.S. Sen. Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat.
Holt is basically thinking out loud here. He said similar things to me on Tuesday, referencing the Church and Pike commissions of the 1970s. He’s got no proposal — yet — for launching an “intense and comprehensive” probe of secret CIA activities like the assassination thing. (Oh yeah, and that was apparently getting revived inside the agency when Director Leon Panetta shut it down.) And who knows whether other members of Congress would be interested in reviving such a probe.
But this would cause the CIA to hyperventilate. The scandal-revealing Church and Pike commissions divided the history of the CIA into before and after epochs, with the post-Church/Pike period being one of much greater congressional scrutiny. (There weren’t any intelligence committees, for instance, before the investigations.) The biggest thing the CIA fears is another 9/11. The second biggest thing the CIA fears is another Church/Pike.
There’s an irony that needs to be pointed out. People like Dick Cheney watched Church/Pike with horror, considering the increased congressional scrutiny to be disastrous for CIA morale and efficacy. Cheney set to work in the Bush administration pushing the CIA out from the strictures of the post-Church/Pike era. But the results of actions could very well be a *second *Church/Pike.
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