The Senate Intelligence Committee is as sclerotic and turf-obsessed as the agency it’s meant to regulate.

By PHILIP GIRALDI
March 26, 2014
The American Conservative

Government bureaucracies, like many private sector businesses, are initially created in response to a perceived need either to do something or provide a service. The Department of Defense in its current incarnation rose out of the developing Cold War in the post-Second World War environment, while the CIA was created to prevent a second Pearl Harbor. But as bureaucracies mature they become less and less connected to their founding principles as circumstances change and they fail to adapt. They then go into a self-defense mode that makes maintaining jobs, budgets, and political turf in Washington their top priority. This compulsion to protect equities is the reason we are currently hearing of alleged CIA spying on a largely disengaged Senate committee in an attempt to forestall any accountability for torture and rendition policies that many believe to be war crimes.

Mostly lost in translation is the fact that the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, like CIA, is also a stale bureaucracy, one largely inhabited by senators who have been in place for many years. Committee staffers reflect their sense of entitlement, believing themselves untouchable as they bask in their celebrity since 9/11. In short, they too are prone to go into self-defense mode about what they have and have not done, making Sen. Dianne Feinstein no hero for opportunistically attacking the CIA for spying on her committee. Her attempts to shift the blame for now-discredited and abhorrent activities in which her committee was almost certainly complicit are obvious, though this in no way exonerates the Agency.

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