Friday, April 27, 2007

They control it. All of it. All the time.

Jonathon, in full

Amazing Statement Of Congressional Impotence By Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller

Charles Davis, a freelance reporter, briefly interviewed Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) last Wednesday. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, made this startling statement about how the U.S. government really functions:

ROCKEFELLER: Don't you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I'm Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me.

Below is the background to what they were talking about—which is truly a matter of war and peace and life and death for millions of people. Included is a transcript and mp3 of the entire Davis/Rockefeller exchange.

• • •

Last month Seymour Hersh reported this:

In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda...

The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process...

American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.

More recently, ABC reported the U.S. has "secretly encouraged and advised" an organization of Pakistanis operating inside Iran called Jundullah. Jundullah has "taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials." According to one of the experts quoted by ABC, Jundullah has been "executing them on camera." However:

U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight.

Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.

You'd think—as Tom Engelhardt has written—that this screams out for further investigation. After all, this kind of activity could easily lead to war with Iran by accident. It could also easily lead to war on purpose: recall that Bush gave the CIA the go ahead to plan attacks within Iraq in order to create a pretext for war there. And Hersh quotes Flynt Leverett, formerly part of Bush's National Security Council staff, as saying "The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”

Yet there's been essentially no follow up from the elite US media. It took Charles Davis, who apparently graduated from college less than a year ago, to ask the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee the most basic questions imaginable. Davis has written an article about this for LewRockwell.com. And here's his exchange with Rockefeller in its entirety, which is worth listening to to hear Rockefeller's tone of voice and moments of hesitation:

DAVIS: I wonder if you've heard some of these news reports that the Bush administration is backing extremist groups in Pakistan to launch attacks against Iran? Are you familiar with those news reports?

ROCKEFELLER: I've seen no intelligence that would verify that.

DAVIS: Reports quote administration officials as saying this is going on and it's being done in a way to avoid oversight of the Intelligence Committee. Is there any way—

ROCKEFELLER: They'll go to any lengths to do that, as we've seen in the last two days [during hearings on FISA].

DAVIS: Is there anything you could do in your position as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee to find answers about this, if it is in fact going on?

ROCKEFELLER: Don't you understand the way Intelligence works? Do you think that because I'm Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say I want it, and they give it to me? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time. I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me.

DAVIS: Is there any way someone, maybe not you, they can somehow press the administration to find something—if they're doing something that may be illegal—

ROCKEFELLER: I don't know that. I don't know that. I deal with Intelligence. That's it. They tend to avoid us.

DAVIS: Well, what do you think about these allegations?

ROCKEFELLER: I'm not—I don't comment on allegations. I can't. I can't afford to.

DAVIS: Okay. Thank you.

It's clear Jay Rockefeller isn't going to be an inspiring leader on this. If you're Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (and have a personal net worth of at least $82 million), it's not actually the case there's nothing you can do when the government of the United States is running secret operations all over the Middle East that may blow up into a massive new war. (Of course, you might believe that's the case, if like most Democratic politicians you've trained yourself into learned helplessness.)

Certainly the only way Rockefeller and people like him will act is if they receive enough encouragement and pressure. That's not going to come from anyone in our unbelievably decadent political class—they're all too busy in the vomitorium. But it could come from regular people, if we get our act together.

We'll see. Certainly I'll keep following this. In the meantime, congratulations to Charles Davis for his excellent work.

2 comments:

Enlightenment said...

Jundullah! THAT'S the name of that group to which I was referring the other day that the U.S. is backing inside Iran.

steven andresen said...

This came up,

"DAVIS: Well, what do you think about these allegations?

ROCKEFELLER: I'm not—I don't comment on allegations. I can't. I can't afford to."

The Senator reads like he's helpless, I don't know what he sounded like. What could he possibly be so afraid of that he can't "afford" to listen to or entertain certain allegations about what the government is doing that as a Senator on the Intelligence Committee he should know about?

Are all these guys threatened before they get appointed, "...If you go beyond the following list of topics we will break your kid's legs. Or you will have engine trouble in some plane sometime...???"

This is what I always think.

Or, I imagine my Senator Morse being told, "Listen, if you don't get with the program we're going to fund some know nothing to take your seat away from you. He'll have bottomless pockets and you'll never have a chance..."

The reason I bring up Morse is...beyond being a personal hero because he voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, was that he argued it was the responsibility of the Congress to find out what was going on in the world so that Senators like himself or Senator Rockefeller would be able to challenge the nonsense that all administrations try to get away with in front of Intelligence committees.

Like journalists, Senators aren't supposed to just take what some administration gives them. They are supposed to be advocates for the people's interests and so they have to know things to do that.