Should Brennan resign after reversing course, admitting CIA spied on Senate Intel Committee?

posted at 2:41 pm on August 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

On Thursday, Democratic Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) called for John Brennan’s resignation after admitting that the CIA penetrated Senate Intelligence Committee computers during an investigation of interrogation techniques — after first insisting that it didn’t happen at all. Another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) didn’t demand Brennan’s resignation, but suggested Friday that an independent counsel investigation may be needed to get to the truth. Wyden wants to know who ordered the Code Red:

“If a 19-year-old hacker had done this kind of search of Senate files,” Wyden stated twice, “that hacker would be in jail today.” And that wouldn’t have the same kind of constitutional repercussions as the CIA hacking the committee which oversees their work, which has some echoes of Watergate and the abuses of power in the Nixon administration. The threat to civilian oversight of armed forces and intelligence agencies is at once obvious and serious, and it’s arguable to say whether it’s worse if Brennan knew about the effort to spy on the Senate, or didn’t know about it. (Better for constitutional government if he didn’t, but worse for the competency of the Obama administration.)

So far, though, most of Udall and Wyden’s colleagues have been curiously slow to direct their outrage at Brennan, even though this is the third example of Obama administration intelligence leaders misleading Congress, willfully or not, on domestic surveillance issues (Keith Alexander and James Clapper being the other two). Even more curiously, Democrats seem a little quicker on the trigger in regard to Brennan than Republicans on yesterday’s talk shows:

No one new called for Brennan’s resignation, as Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and other lawmakers have in the past few days. President Obama said Friday that he has “full confidence” in Brennan. But the CIA director continues to be under fire from some and defended by others.

“I think he should view his position as in real jeopardy,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Sunday. “I think he’s in a very deep hole.” …

Chambliss noted that he voted against Brennan’s confirmation and has long been a critic of the director but said he believes Brennan did not know until recently that Senate staff computers were improperly searched.

“John has done a really good job” as director, Chambliss said, noting that Brennan immediately apologized to legislators once he knew the scope of the computer-search issue. “Once he got all the facts, he apologized.” …

“If I thought John Brennan knew about this, then certainly we’d be calling for his resignation,” Chambliss said. “He did not.”

But, the lawmaker said if the five staffers implicated in the breach worked for him, they would “be gone by now.”

Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats, stopped short of demanding Brennan’s resignation, but made clear that was his inclination:

Tempers on the committee flared in recent months over reports that the CIA spied on computers used by intelligence committee staffers. A CIA inspector general’s report confirmed these reports this past week, prompting CIA Director John Brennan to apologize to committee members Thursday. However, some members aren’t satisfied, citing Brennan’s previous remarksthat batted down the spying accusations

“I don’t think an apology is enough,” Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “I think we’ve really got to have some serious discussions about John Brennan, find out what he knew about this when he was making those statements, what he knew about it at the time. I’m not calling for his resignation, but I’m pretty skeptical right now.”

Ron Fournier gives ten arguments why heads should roll at Langley after this revelation, only a few of which deal with the hacking scandal:

6. The CIA has aggressively fought the release of even a summary of the committee’s conclusions. The agency has demanded and received authority to edit the report. Who wouldn’t want to edit his own indictment? This feels like institutional butt-covering.

7. The CIA hacked into the computers used by Senate investigators to conduct their watershed report. Agency spies were apparently attempting to retrieve and delete a damning internal CIA document (the so-called Panetta review). This could be criminal. It’s illegal for the CIA to spy inside the United States. The CIA is part of the executive branch of government. The Senate is part of the legislative branch, one of the few checks against the CIA’s extraordinary power.

8. CIA Director John Brennan had flatly denied that his agency was spying on Senate staffers. If Brennan knowingly misled the public, he’s a liar. If he denied the charges before checking them out, he’s careless with the truth. Pick your poison. Brennan ordered an internal review after denying the charges, then apologized when the spying was confirmed.

Not cleaning house, Fournier later argues, is tantamount to “implicitly condon[ing] institutionalized deception, lies, and cover-ups.” That’s certainly true — but was also true of Clapper and Alexander as well. Clapper is still Brennan’s boss, and Alexander got to retire on schedule. The condoning of “institutionalized deception, lies, and cover-ups” has been well under way for years in the Obama administration, and not just in intelligence, either. How many hard drives got mysteriously destroyed at the IRS? How many documents got withheld under claims of executive privilege for Operation Fast & Furious? How many different stories got told about Benghazi? How many veterans died while the VA was covering up their lack of service?

But in regard to intelligence, the question shouldn’t be whether Brennan can continue; it’s why we’d want him to do so, even apart from this latest incompetence. So far, we’ve missed the rise of ISIS, blew the Arab Spring, didn’t grasp the danger in eastern Libya until it cost four American lives, completely misread Russia and Vladimir Putin, and almost turned Egypt into a failed state too. Add in the use of USAID as a cut-rate covert-ops house, and US intel looks like a disaster, at least in terms of management.  Not all of those are entirely the fault of intel; the CIA tried warning State repeatedly about Benghazi, for instance, and the intel communities don’t set policy. Still, we seem to be getting a lot less than we’d expect from our eyes and ears. Perhaps we should be cleaning house across the board.

Addendum: Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds writes that even a resignation probably won’t improve matters in the Obama administration, where accountability gets treated like a four-letter word:

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that people respond to incentives: If spying on, and lying to, Congress is dangerous, and the results of being caught unpleasant, then there will be less of it. If, on the other hand, the worst risk is a slap on the wrist and a seven-figure career in the private sector, then I suspect we’ll see more of this kind of bad behavior.

Congress can, of course, charge Brennan with contempt of Congress, or refer him for prosecution under the False Statements Act. But in both cases, the decision to prosecute would be made by Attorney General Eric Holder, who seems to see his role not as administering justice, but as running interference for the Obama administration and protecting its officials from consequences. (Holder himself has already been held in contempt of Congress for stonewalling an investigation into ATF gun-running to Mexican drug gangs). Likewise, Sen. Udall’s call for a criminal investigation of the CIA will go nowhere so long as Holder continues to play scandal-goalie.

Alas, as with the IRS’ stonewalling of investigations into its targeting of Obama’s political opponents, consequences for offenders seem hard to come by in the face of an administration that has no shame. Probably the best that Congress can do is to punish the entire CIA by using its budgetary power to make employees’ lives worse: Cutting back on bonuses, raises, conferences, and other perks. Where the IRS is involved, there’s some talk of abolishing most of it in favor of a national sales tax that would require much less bureaucracy and provide fewer opportunities for abuse, but that’s unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.

The sad truth is that when you elect irresponsible people into positions of power, you get irresponsible government. President Obama oozes contempt for Congress, and for longstanding unwritten political accommodations among the branches, at every opportunity. It’s unsurprising that his underlings feel — and act — consistently with that view.

If the American electorate votes more responsibly next time, things will get better. Until then, alas, elections have consequences, and this is one of them.

This points out the need to have a truly independent Attorney General. And why, in all likelihood, they have been so rare.

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Yes.

Tard on August 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

He knows too much and is obama’s bro.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM

He should expose the admin for Benghazi and then resign.
He should also explain the admin’s role in the Arab Spring.

freedomfirst on August 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Brennan and Hagel are muzzie converts.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Of course Brennan should resign.

He’s lied to Congress and is incompetent.

Athos on August 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Amazing how a contested Dem senator can become an upstanding citizen for a few months, aint it….

hillsoftx on August 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM

but the whole muslim conversion is an obstacle.

freedomfirst on August 4, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Yes but it doesn’t matter. Until a new administration takes over, this kind of behavior and incompetence will continue. We are stuck with this crap for another 2 and a half years, regardless of who Obama throws in there.

Jack_Burton on August 4, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Yes.

DisneyFan on August 4, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Yes……

d1carter on August 4, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Yes – but then I think the current heads of EVERY government agency, including the White House, should all be forced out of office – and thrown in jail.

dentarthurdent on August 4, 2014 at 2:47 PM

He knows too much about Feinstein too, and especially about her husband’s shenanigans. He pockets millions for ‘auditing’ Medicare. RAC, with the Einsteins is a racket.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Should Brennan resign after reversing course, admitting CIA spied on Senate Intel Committe

AHHAHHAHAHAHHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the laugh!

Yeah, right….nobody resigns from this collection of parasites.

ToddPA on August 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM

He should be fired…

d1carter on August 4, 2014 at 2:49 PM

RAC, with the Einsteins is a racket.

That too, in an ironic way, but s/b Feinsteins.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Udall of CO MUST go.

The scum MUST be cantorized. Period.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

What, and set an example that lying, corrupt and incompetent agency heads should resign? Never!

JusDreamin on August 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Will anyone’s head at the NSA roll for spying on the American people? Or is it only bad to spy on the “privileged class”?

Oh, I forgot, Snowden was a traitor and I should just shut up about that. Because terrorists.

Rusty Nail on August 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Should Brennan resign after reversing course, admitting CIA spied on Senate Intel Committee?

Only after testifying whether the FBI, DOJ, or WH knew it was happening.

Tater Salad on August 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Not cleaning house, Fournier later argues, is tantamount to “implicitly condon[ing] institutionalized deception, lies, and cover-ups.”

Brennan and his minions, all need firing and long PRISON sentences.

dogsoldier on August 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Why? Clapper lied under oath to CONGRESS and latter was forced to admit it was a lie and nothing happened to him . We don’t worry about the truth or privacy anymore. We should just be happy that Brennan isn’t ordering hits on 0s detractors. He could be silencing opposition and even admit to it and I’m sure nothing would happen.

BoxHead1 on August 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Put him out, and criticize him for his behind the scenes work on Benghazi too.

jake49 on August 4, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Not all of those are entirely the fault of intel; the CIA tried warning State repeatedly about Benghazi, for instance, and the intel communities don’t set policy.

Also warned for over a year that ISIS was on the rise – obama did nada.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Of some note is that king Obama gave him the order to bug the Senate.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM

This points out the need to have a truly independent Attorney General. And why, in all likelihood, they have been so rare.


Mr. Activist and Racist

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Should Brennan resign after reversing course, admitting CIA spied on Senate Intel Committee?

Yes.

And then he should go jump in the Potomac River. Or a cesspool. A cesspool would be good.

novaculus on August 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that people respond to incentives: If spying on, and lying to, Congress is dangerous, and the results of being caught unpleasant, then there will be less of it. If, on the other hand, the worst risk is a slap on the wrist and a seven-figure career in the private sector, then I suspect we’ll see more of this kind of bad behavior.

Congress can, of course, charge Brennan with contempt of Congress, or refer him for prosecution under the False Statements Act. But in both cases, the decision to prosecute would be made by Attorney General Eric Holder, who seems to see his role not as administering justice, but as running interference for the Obama administration and protecting its officials from consequences. (Holder himself has already been held in contempt of Congress for stonewalling an investigation into ATF gun-running to Mexican drug gangs). Likewise, Sen. Udall’s call for a criminal investigation of the CIA will go nowhere so long as Holder continues to play scandal-goalie.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Why should Brennen resign? He can’t go until American Citizen lives are grossly restricted by his actions!

/Eric holder, Sebelius, Lisa Lerner, etc.

Vanceone on August 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Resign? Nah, let this pig put his head into one of the guillotines that the gov’t purchased and hand the release cord to a patriot. Problem solved. As long as the execution is public to make an example of corrupt officials, and throw in 2 or 3 hundred liberal fascists on the same day as this public execution and we’ll be well on our way back to a free democratic representative republic.

Diluculo on August 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Udall of CO MUST go.
The scum MUST be cantorized. Period.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Agreed – but Udall is not the same as Cantor.
Udall is a Demrat – and we have a decent R running against him – Cory Gardner.

dentarthurdent on August 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

He is only the latest one to perjure himself before Congress, why should he? None of the rest have, or have had charges filed against them.


Konga line of perjurers:

Holder
Clapper
Hagel
Alexander
Kosinkin

There is nobody in this entire administration who knows what the truth is.

De Oppresso Liber on August 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Not another Contempt of Congress….? No, not that.

d1carter on August 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Does a bear sh!t in the woods?

Patriot Vet on August 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Either the NSA dies or America dies.

“In the end, there can be only one”.

VorDaj on August 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

No resignations !!!!

Seppuku for all involved at the CIA

J_Crater on August 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

There is nobody in this entire administration who knows what the truth is.

De Oppresso Liber on August 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Sure they do – they have to be able to recognize it to be able to avoid it as well as they do….

dentarthurdent on August 4, 2014 at 3:06 PM

If ever there was a philosophy of government, the end justifies the means, totally at war with that of the Founding Fathers, it is this one. – Barry Goldwater

VorDaj on August 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Obaminions NEVER resign in disgrace.

ConstantineXI on August 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Although I wouldn’t trust any senate committee, he should probably resign.

rlwo2008 on August 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Why would he retire? I assume he did what Obama wanted him to do. The Won will just put another in just like him.

Cindy Munford on August 4, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Will anyone’s head at the NSA roll for spying on the American people? Or is it only bad to spy on the “privileged class”?
Rusty Nail on August 4, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Only if they make W the fall guy.

Cindy Munford on August 4, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Does a bear sh!t in the woods?

Patriot Vet on August 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Does everybody poop?

libfreeordie on June 11, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Girl, bye.

slickwillie2001 on August 4, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Wyden has it right with an add on that jail time should be forthcoming. And if Congress is being spied upon, then what’s the ceiling on domestic spying.

In the meantime, our losers, like Graham and McCain, who back the NSA nationalizing our data, seem muted.

cthemfly on August 4, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Imagine what would have happened if the CIA had been shown to have spied on Obama’s White House?

That would have been a Reverend Wright-style “show of disrespect” to our Narcissist in Chief and Brennan would probably be in Gitmo.

Drained Brain on August 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Over the weekend I heard someone on Fox News mention the computers where the spying occurred were located at the CIA. These were terminals that Senate members were allowed access to while at Langley.

If true, there’s much dishonesty in this story all the way around.

UnstChem on August 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

OT: James Brady has died, watch for more gun control narrative…

OmahaConservative on August 4, 2014 at 3:17 PM

The Demos are suddenly ticked because they realize it’s them in the cross-hairs, too.

Oh, and, YES.

formwiz on August 4, 2014 at 3:21 PM

And Saxby Chambliss is against calling for thug Brennan’s resignation.

Sigh.

But Brennan has said he did not know what was going on with the computers, and Chambliss said Sunday that the director may not be to blame.

aquaviva on August 4, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Resign? No, needs to be fired or impeached.

Amazingoly on August 4, 2014 at 3:38 PM

He should resign and be prosecuted for lying under oath

workingclass artist on August 4, 2014 at 4:01 PM

ALL of zero’s appointees should resign or wear decorator jumpsuits with matching bracelets.

Funny, isn’t it…Our security agencies spy on Congress and all the Dem’s panties get all bunched up, but when these same agencies spy on American Citizens en masse…crickets…

Newtie and the Beauty on August 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Brennan is a muslim radical, and a sworn enemy of the United States – which is reason enough to force him to resign.

Pork-Chop on August 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Brennan is a muslim radical, and a sworn enemy of the United States – which is reason enough to force him to resign.

Pork-Chop on August 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

…but then, you repeat yourself.

freedomfirst on August 4, 2014 at 4:21 PM

So far, though, most of Udall and Wyden’s colleagues have been curiously slow to direct their outrage at Brennan, even though this is the third example of Obama administration intelligence leaders misleading Congress, willfully or not, on domestic surveillance issues (Keith Alexander and James Clapper being the other two). Even more curiously, Democrats seem a little quicker on the trigger in regard to Brennan than Republicans on yesterday’s talk shows

The quiet ones know what’s in their CIA files and don’t want it showing up in the NYT…

Midas on August 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM

No. He should be fired.

hoffy on August 4, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Yes

rodeoclownmonkey on August 4, 2014 at 6:26 PM

RESIGN?!?!?!?!? if we had a POTUS with a shred of decency, then he demand a resignation or fire him.

but they are both islamophiles and need each other.

reliapundit on August 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Ed, a very bad post. You didn’t look deep enough.(Being a blogging machine does have its downsides.) The DDCIA has no background in intelligence, none. She was appointed and confirmed by the senate knowing she was nothing more than a third rate political hack. John Brennan’s failures as a station chief in SA are well known, but Brennan is a good analyst, and that is also well known.(And no, he is not a secret Muslim, neither is Hegel. They are just incompetent.) Should he have been confirmed, no. But he was anyway, and for that we have the democratic senate to thank.

flackcatcher on August 4, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Why on earth would he resign? It’s not like there are consequences for what he’s done. Remember, Americans don’t have the stomach to stop obama’s criminal gang. A majority have no clue who Brennan is or have heard of any of this anyway.

One32ndHekawi on August 4, 2014 at 7:07 PM

John Brennan talks in Arabic. Like Obama,

Key West Reader on August 4, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Honestly, I don’t care if he was spying and Congress and lying about it any more than I care that Clinton was doing an intern and lying about it.

If anyone deserves to be spied upon it is this current Congress.

talkingpoints on August 4, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Brenan should rsign, be charged with pejury and be prosecuted. Many others in the CIA, should be charged with treason and prosecuted, and everyone at the NSA should be executed for treason.

earlgrey on August 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM