Yes, Virginia, Intelligence Agencies Mislead People

Of all the ridiculous pseudo-controversies I’ve witnessed in politics, the one between Nancy Pelosi and the CIA from earlier this year was surely the dumbest. Pelosi alleged that she’d been misled by the CIA regarded the details of some illegal orders that CIA personnel had carried out. The right then began to savage Pelosi, not based on specific information that she was wrong about this, but based on the lunatic notion that it’s just outrageous in general to claim that the CIA would ever lie to congress. Even more preposterously, the political press decided to treat these attacks very seriously as if we’re a nation of naive children that doesn’t realize intelligence agencies sometimes help presidents cover up illegal activities.

At any rate, here’s Spencer Ackerman with the news that six members of congress report that Leon Panetta conceded in testimony that the CIA has, in fact, misled congress:


I’ve said this before, but a lot of the structure of the current set-up of the CIA is basically designed to give presidents an outlet for illegal orders. It needs to change. There’s room for government secrecy, but there’s no good reason for the government to be keeping secrets from congress. That’s what you do if the president is trying to get you to help him cover up something that’s illegal.