Shorter Mark Udall: Why Can’t John Brennan “Honor the Oath”?

Still reading the NSA IG Report, so I’ll just quote right from Mark Udall’s release:

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am concerned to see news reports about the CIA’s response to the Committee’s Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program before the information was provided to the committee. Committee members have not yet seen this response, which we have been expecting for nearly six months.

The American people’s trust in intelligence agencies requires transparency and strong congressional oversight. This latest leak–the latest incident in a long string of leaks from unnamed intelligence officials who purport to be familiar with the Committee’s Study and the CIA’s official response to it–is wholly unacceptable. Even as these reports emerged today and over the past several months, the CIA and the White House have repeatedly rejected requests to discuss the Committee’s report with Members or Committee staff.

The continual leaks of inaccurate information from unnamed intelligence officials are embarrassing to the agency and have only hardened my resolve to declassify the full Committee Study, which is based on a review of more than six million pages of CIA records, comprises more than 6,000 pages in length and includes more than 35,000 footnotes. The report is based on CIA records including internal memoranda, cables, emails, as well as transcripts of interviews and Intelligence Committee hearings. The Study is fact-based, and I believe, indisputable.

I am confident the American people will agree once they have the opportunity to read the Study, as well as the CIA’s official response, that this program was a failure and a tragic moment in America’s history. The only way to correct the inaccurate information in the public record on this program is through the sunlight of declassification.

The other thing that leaked in the last day, in addition to CIA’s claim that millions of its reports are inaccurate, is this news:

CIA Director John Brennan is launching a new campaign aimed at pressuring CIA officers to keep the intelligence agency’s secrets secret, after a series of leaks to the media.

In a memo to the CIA workforce this week, Brennan says the “Honor the Oath,” campaign is intended to “reinforce our corporate culture of secrecy” through education and training.

Some leadership on “our corporate culture of secrecy” Brennan is showing, huh?

15 replies
  1. FrankProbst says:

    Totally off-topic, but I just read through the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indictment, and there are two things that stuck out at me:

    1. The indictment seems to state fairly explicitly that Dzhokhar shot and killed Officer Sean Collier. I have yet to see any evidence that he ever even held the gun (which is also explicitly stated) or was even present for the death of Officer Collier.

    2. A bomb can be legally described as both “a weapon of mass destruction” AND “a firearm”. The irony here is so unbelievably glaring that I’m surprised it wasn’t immediately pointed out: Adam Lanza killed a hell of a lot more people with “a firearm”, but since it happened to be an assault refile, it apparently isn’t considered “a weapon of mass destruction”.

  2. par4 says:

    Impeachment is the Constitutional remedy. Unfortunately both parties and all of the Federal Government is corrupt.

  3. P J Evans says:

    If Brennan is serious about ‘honoring the oath’, he should resign and turn himself in for criminal activities.

  4. thatvisionthing says:

    I asked James C. Goodale, NY Times Pentagon Papers lawyer, this question at his recent FDL book salon (Fighting For The Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles):

    @41: Has anyone ever used upholding their oath to the Constitution, when going up the chain of command has failed, as a legal defense? Has it ever been tested in court? I was sorry to see Manning plead guilty to anything. Look at his context.

    Goodale’s reply @48:

    I don’t know of anyone who has used that defense.

    Anybody? I mean, if we can’t orient ourselves personally, legally to the Constitution, then isn’t that part of the fail? That’s the oath I’m concerned about. Pretty fond of “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” too.

  5. P J Evans says:

    I think it’s usual, when two people commit crimes together and one of them dies in the process, that the other is charged for both if murder is involved.

    (I don’t know whether this should be a normal thing or not.)

  6. thatvisionthing says:

    More on “Honor the Oath” — from the Judiciary Committee a ways back:

    SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, Judiciary Committee Chairman: And then you said, “I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously.” Did you mean perhaps you took an oath to the Constitution?

    SARA TAYLOR, fmr. White House political director 2005-07: I, uh, yes. You are correct. I took an oath to the Constitution. But, uh, what –

    LEAHY: Did you take a second oath to the president?

    TAYLOR: I did not. What I should have said –

    LEAHY: The answer was incorrect.

    TAYLOR: The answer was incorrect.

    LEAHY: Thank you.

    TAYLOR: What I should have said is that I took an oath, I took that oath seriously, and I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the president.

    LEAHY: No! The oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know the president refers to the government as being his government. It’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the president, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

    The Constitution – First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Sixth Amendment… and not a single CIA.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A spy agency that can’t keep its own (really, our) secrets secret? That suggests poor leadership, stemming at least from the days of Cheney and Porter Goss, who attempted to rid the agency of its reluctance to adhere to Mr. Cheney’s political priorities regarding what its analysts should think.

    It suggests that, like many other agencies which were demoralized by CheneyBush and which expected better things from Mr. Hopey Changey, the demoralization is extensive and is about the flaws in political leadership far more than flaws in systems or analysis.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On a related note, I suspect that Mr. Obama may want Mr. Snowden returned to US control, but that he would be entirely reluctant to see him prosecuted – and his and Mr. Snowden’s claims documented – in a public court of law.

    It seems more likely that Mr. Obama would be happier if Mr. Snowden never came within the jurisdiction of a public court. He’s more useful to Obama’s whistleblower war, to his Insider Threat Program, as a fugitive pinata. He is Mr. Obama’s Emmanuel Goldstein. I can see DiFi leading the Senate’s daily two minutes of hate already.

  9. Phil Perspective says:

    In a memo to the CIA workforce this week, Brennan says the “Honor the Oath,” campaign is intended to “reinforce our corporate culture of secrecy” through education and training.

    Brennan certainly knows who he serves, and it isn’t the American people.

  10. C says:

    @earlofhuntingdon: No, this was deliberate. They wanted to send a message that they are tightening up security but didn’t want to look like they were doing that. The idea is that if it is leaked it will seem more meaningful because this is how things have been done in Washington for years. They also probably did it to throw a bone to some loyal reporters (like David Gregory) who’ve been lapdogs so long they couldn’t find a story if it wasn’t fed to them (like this).

    What it really shows is the tone-deaf nature of these groups. They honestly think that in the current environment an authorized leak like this would be a good thing rather than something that makes them seem all the more wierd and pisses off at least some members of Congress more.

  11. Bill Michtom says:


    The new definition of a weapon of mass destruction is one that can destroy mass: the quantity of matter in an object.

    Class dismissed.

  12. What Constitution? says:

    @Bill Michtom: To keep the “holy war” aspect going, weapons of “mass destruction” include things that disrupt a Catholic church service, right?

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