There is a political myth in Washington that the Senate and House intelligence committees, unlike other congressional committees, have been bipartisan and fair minded in their handling of political matters. Now that the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has gone rogue by providing sensitive exculpatory intelligence documents to the President of the United States, the subject of a committee investigation, we are told that the intelligence committee can no longer be considered bipartisan. Well, we learned 25 years ago that the congressional intelligence committees were as politicized as any committee on the Hill.
The congressional intelligence committees were created in 1977 following recommendations of the Church and Pike committees that investigated crimes committed during the Vietnam War by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency. These crimes included illegal domestic spying in violation of U.S. law throughout the war. The intelligence committees were given responsibility for oversight of the intelligence community, which had been in the hands of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees from 1947 until 1977.
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Breaking the Addiction to Secrets and Secrecy
There is no question that the government must protect its sources and methods in the collection of intelligence. Regarding substance, however, I believe that, with the exception of details on weapons systems as well as on sensitive negotiations, there are few legitimate secrets and almost none that must remain classified for more than ten years at most. The secrecy that surrounded the Iran-Contra affair probably saved the Reagan presidency over the short term, but greater transparency would have prevented Iran-Contra from ever getting off the ground in the first place.
Harvard’s Kennedy School: Key Part Of The Military-Industrial Complex
Harvard’s Kennedy School’s denial of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, because of his criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is only the latest example of the corporate role played by Harvard’s most prestigious think tank on public policy. Roth, who has spent the last three decades at HRW defending human rights around the world, was offered a senior fellowship at the School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. It was quickly withdrawn.