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Arlen Specter Backs Pelosi

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Arlen Specter Backs Pelosi"

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I appreciate that there are some basic political truths that are awkward for most politicians to actually utter. But one reason that it’s good to have some politicians around who are worried about their left flank, is that you can get this sort of thing from Arlen Specter (D-PA):

“The CIA has a very bad record when it comes … to honesty. It goes back a long time,” Specter said in a speech before the American Law Institute at a Washington hotel.

The Republican-turned-Democrat listed a handful of examples in the past where the CIA has withheld key information from Congress.

“It’s a real problem as to how you get the information,” he said.

Right on. Not that we should be acting like the CIA is just somehow full of dishonest people. But it’s an agency that’s well-equipped to do things in secret. Sometimes presidents like to use it because they want to do something legitimate that requires secrecy. But the secrecy capabilities are also useful if you want to do something that’s illegal or immoral. Like torture people. But when the CIA is being asked to do illegal and immoral things in order to keep them secret, that naturally tends to extend toward keeping congress in the dark. There are many historical instances of this, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the CIA’s briefings on the Bush torture program turn out to have been less-than-thorough.

Good for Specter.

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