- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

It was less than two years ago that Democrats were bashing the CIA enhanced interrogation of terrorism suspects and accusing the agency of providing false information.

Democrats also said the CIA was misleading the American public when its leaders said the techniques foiled terrorist plots and helped locate the courier who led manhunters to Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout, where he was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

But to hear Democrats today, in the wake of the CIA and fellow intelligence agencies saying the Russians hacked their political party, the intelligence community is infallible and patriotic and should not be questioned by President-elect Donald Trump.

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, has denounced the intelligence community over the years. But when Mr. Trump expressed doubts about its findings on Russia, Mr. Wyden took to Twitter to bash him for skepticism about the same agencies the senator had criticized.

“How can you serve as commander-in-chief while running a political campaign against your own intelligence officials?” Mr. Wyden tweeted on Dec. 10.

The Trump transition team “is now trying to discredit the entire intelligence community,” he said. Earlier Mr. Wyden tweeted: “And all while denying intelligence community statements that Russia interfered with our elections. This is dangerous.”

In 2011 Mr. Wyden strongly suggested that Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper misled him at a hearing about bulk surveillance of phone calls. Following Mr. Clapper’s testimony, Mr. Wyden put out this statement: “After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer. Now public hearings are needed to address the recent disclosures and the American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives.”

Today, congressional Republican aides say Democrats are denouncing any questioning of the intelligence agencies because their findings dovetail with an overall liberal movement to discredit Mr. Trump and the election. Democrats say Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman’s emails helped Mr. Trump win.

Over the years, Democrats did not appear to have reservations about criticizing intelligence officials.

In 2014, then-Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, took to the Senate floor to denounce the CIA for asserting that enhanced interrogations led to stopping terrorist plots and getting bin Laden.

Committee Democrats issued a report condemning the CIA. Ms. Feinstein’s speech that December drove home that point and accused the agency of misleading the public.

“In each case, the CIA claimed that critical and unique information came from one or more detainees in its custody after they were subjected to the CIA’s coercive techniques, and that information led to a specific counterterrorism success,” she said. “Our staff reviewed every one of the 20 cases, and not a single case holds up.”

Former CIA hands rebutted Ms. Feinstein’s allegation. They signed a joint letter published in The Wall Street Journal and took the unusual step of setting up a web page devoted to contesting her assertion that “not a single case holds up.”

“There is no doubt that information provided by the totality of detainees in CIA custody, those who were subjected to interrogation and those who were not, was essential to bringing bin Laden to justice,” they said in the letter.

On Thursday, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on cyberwarfare, Democrats had nothing but praise for Mr. Clapper and the other intelligence community witnesses who discussed their conclusion that the Russians hacked the Democrats.

“For any of you who want to answer this, I’d like to know how the president-elect’s at least inferred dismissive attitude toward the intelligence community broadly impacted morale in your agencies,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrat, asked Mr. Clapper and other witnesses.

In 2014 Mr. Heinrich lashed out at the CIA, accusing it of providing “false” information on the work of the intelligence committee.

“The Senate intelligence committee oversees the CIA, not the other way around,” he said. “Since I joined the committee, the CIA has refused to engage in good faith on the committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Instead, the CIA has consistently tried to cast doubt on the accuracy and quality of this report by publicly making false representations about what is and is not in it.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, also berated Mr. Trump for questioning the intelligence community.

“So let’s talk about who benefits from a president-elect trashing the intelligence community. Who benefits from that, Director Clapper? The American people? Them losing confidence in the intelligence community and the work of the intelligence community? Who actually is the benefactor of someone who is about to become commander in chief trashing the intelligence community?” she said.

She also asserted that Mr. Trump is siding with Julian Assange, who runs the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks that published the hacked emails. Mr. Trump says the news media have falsely accused him of supporting the leaker.

Said Ms. McCaskill: “The notion that the elected leader of this country would put Julian Assange on a pedestal compared to the men and women of the intelligence community and the military that is so deeply embedded in the intelligence community, I think it should bring about a hue and cry. No matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, there should be howls.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide