Obama Must "Tame" CIA; Fire CIA Director John Brennan, Argues Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson


John Brennan

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has a terrific column today, "Time to tame the intelligence monster," in which he calls for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan over his agency's illegal spying on Congress. From the column:

The CIA now admits that it spied on a Senate investigation into the agency's shameful program of secret detention and torture. Do we need any more proof that the spooks are out of control?

An internal "accountability board" will look into the incident, an agency statement said, and might recommend "potential disciplinary measures" or even "steps to address systemic issues."

Somehow, I don't feel reassured.

You will recall that when Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) alleged in March that the CIA was rummaging through her panel's computer files without permission, CIA Director John Brennan scoffed at the complaint with high-handed derision. "I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong," he said.

Oops. An internal CIA probe discovered that, well, a good deal of spying and monitoring and hacking did take place. Brennan reportedly has apologized to Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the committee — both of whom have been among the CIA's staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill.

The White House has taken a la-de-dah attitude toward the revelation that the agency charged with spying on the machinations of our foreign enemies instead trained its focus on the official work of our elected officials. Asked whether Brennan now has a credibility problem, press secretary Josh Earnest said, "Not at all."

Earnest is wrong on that score, but the problem is much bigger than Brennan. At stake is the principle that our intelligence agencies — like our military forces — must be subject to civilian oversight and control. The spooks apparently have a different arrangement in mind. …

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a member of the intelligence panel, stated the obvious: "This grave misconduct not only is illegal, but it violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement of separation of powers." He called on Brennan to resign.

As I said, however, this is bigger than Brennan. At issue is whether a vastly expanded and empowered U.S. intelligence establishment will be fully and properly brought under civilian control and oversight…. Obama, in the time he has left in office, had better tame it.

Robinson is absolutely right that the national security surveillance state is out of control and must be reined in. He properly calls on President Obama to "tame it."

Somehow, I don't feel reassured.

NEXT: Americans Really Don't Like Their Congresscritters

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Obama? Seriously? Precisely how has he lifted the boot of oppression? For that matter, when has he done anything other than make the boot grind our necks more than ever before?

    1. He ended the NSA spying, he ended drone strikes, he closed Gitmo. Don't worry, our man always comes through.

      1. Well, he did emancipate the gays and eliminate the huge financial burden of contraceptives from American women.

      2. He also vetoed the extension of the PATRIOT Act.

      3. He also granted immunity to Snowden and threw Clapper in prison.

  2. If the spying on Congress - specifically during their oversight of the intelligence community - doesn't get Congress to push the administration to act, or to act itself, then nothing will.

    1. I notice how this "out-of-control surveillance state" was a big yawner to the Ruling Class up until it was discovered that they were being spied on, too.

      Real solid principles on display there, Eugene.

      1. Karma is a bitch, no?

  3. Do we need any more proof that the spooks are out of control?


    1. It would help if there was some evidence that the spook-in-chief wasn't cheering them on.

  4. We must have priorities, the CIA is just going after those who can cause real damage, Congress has the capability cut funding to the CIA so they are a potential danger.

    Can some terrorist in Afghanistan or Libya do that, no, so they are far lower on the priority list.


  5. Holly crap. This might be the first Eugene Robinson article I've ever seen that isn't just pushing out the DNC approved talking points of the week/ slobbering all over Obama's cock.

  6. The photo looks like he's discussing how someone's head is gonna get chopped.

  7. Obama's managerial incompetence in large part created this clusterfuck. It's ridiculous to think he is willing or able to fix the mess he has helped create. You might as well ask Doktor Frankenstein to take the monster back apart.

  8. Yep just give that revolving door at the top of the building a shove. I'm sure whoever lands in the chair next will fix all of the systemic and cultural issues inside the agency before his expiration date.

  9. come on, Ron. Eugene Robinson would excuse anything that happens on Obama's watch. Is the pretense here that Brennan, like James Clapper, has acted unilaterally without Obama's knowledge? Just how stupid does Robinson think Obama is, let alone the rest of us.

    1. If only Hitler knew about the Jews.

      1. He only found out about the holocaust when he read about it in the papers.

  10. Of course Robinson is outraged that the CIA would spy on those he holds in highest esteem, politicians.

    Who gives a fuck what they do to the proles?

  11. Obama Must "Tame" CIA

    So Obama's now going to take on the CIA after 5.5 years? Yeah right.

    1. No matter what the facts are, we have to maintain the pretense that the Obamessiah either can or wants to do anything about it.

  12. It wuz BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH whut done it!

    1. As has been said here before, by wiser men than I: we are doooooooooooooooooomed.

  13. It is not time to "tame the Intelligence Monster", rather, it is time to SLAY THE MOTHER FUCKER!

    1. But "taming" is considered extreme. Talk about "slaying" will only get you on the watch list. Of course, at this point, all 330,000,000 Americans are on the watch list.

      1. at this point, all 330,000,000 Americans are on the watch list.

        That might be a good idea. Require by law the surveillance of all Americans and require by law a completely screwed up bureaucratic scheme (obamacare website) that makes it impossible to use or interpret that surveillance.

  14. I think Stalin style purge of the intelligence community would be more beneficial to humanity.

    1. It seems to have worked well for Stalinist Russia.

  15. Sorry to call BULLSHIT. But Ron and other journalists have totally misrepresented this story. Let's be clear what happened here. Congressional staffers came to the CIA to access certain classified computer files. They were only allowed access to certain files, that was part of the arrangement (you can criticize the agreement--but that's what it was) The congressional staffers looked at files they didn't agree to look at. The CIA monitored the computers & saw the staffers were looking at files they agreed not to look at. That's it. That's the "spying" on Congress. The CIA monitored their own computers. You can be pissed off that the CIA was monitoring them and call foul. And the CIA probably should've handled it differently and brought it up with Congress in some other way. But that is the "spying" you've been hearing about. The CIA watched its own computers This is why the AG & IG both decided no laws had been broken. Be pissed of at the CIA if you want, but at least know the facts, because Ron Bailey didn't give them to you.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.