When we last looked, conservative bloodlust, hypocrisy, stupidity, and partisanship was leading them to smear FBI agents as somehow less competent than Larry King to conduct counterterrorism investigations. Last night on Greta Van Susteren’s show, Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) wasn’t quite willing to go the Full McConnell and wound up conceding that the professional counterterrotism investigators of the FBI’s counterterrorism division are perfectly capable of offering good information:
BOND: I think once the — and I think when the FBI comes in to brief us, they give us the best information, and the CIA does, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it…
BOND: I’m worried…
VAN SUSTEREN: … good information? Is it — I mean, you know, is it — it is quality information?
BOND: Well, we think — we think it’s quality information. We’re still — we’re still looking at it and watching. Part of our oversight, they have to make — they have to get the information. We have to find out what they’re doing. We’re following that. So my quarrel is not with the people who are getting the information. My quarrel is with the policy that comes from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I’m glad that Bond’s quarrel isn’t with the FBI agents who are conducting the investigation. But if there’s no problem with the people Obama has doing counterterrorism work, and there’s no problem with the work those people are doing, then what’s the problem with the policy?
Meanwhile, Bond continues to be part of the absurd GOP drive to force counterterrorism coordinator John Brennan to resign because, essentially, congressional Republicans think Brennan is too credible a messenger and don’t want him out there. And of course House Republicans are generally crazier than Senate Republicans, so Pete Hoekstra wants to secretly tape record future conversations with Brennan:
One top Republican even threatened to tape-record future calls with Brennan so that the White House can’t use his own words against him.
“Now we know how this guy works. We’ll take notes, have transcribers. Make sure that this guy doesn’t have the opportunity in the future to come back and misrepresent what was said,” said Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, who joined Bond’s call for Brennan’s resignation or firing.
Given the record of politicized abuses of surveillance powers, I’ve repeatedly been baffled at how blasé members of congress from both parties have been about post-9/11 surveillance issues. If it really does come down to a tape recording pissing match between the minority party in congress and the White House’s top intelligence advisors, does Hoekstra really think he’s going to win this battle? I’m going to advise everyone to take a deep breath on this. There are a lot of legitimately controversial aspects of American national security policy. But that when people are apprehended doing something illegal on US soil, they get arrested and are treated like criminal suspects isn’t one of them. This is how it’s always been done and it works fine.
CORRECTION: I should have read Hoekstra more carefully, he specifies that he wants to get Brennan’s permission to record their conversations:
Asked whether he could work well with Brennan in the event of a future incident, Hoekstra said, “I’ll be taping the conversation, with his permission. … I’m not going to get caught in this again.”
That’s silly in a different way.