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If Richard Burr Jokes about Assassination in Secret, What Else Does He Joke about in Secret?

A tracker caught Senate Intelligence Chair responding to a request for a picture with a guy with an NRA hat on by joking about “putting a bullseye” on Hillary Clinton at an event for volunteers this weekend (the quip is after 34:30).

Nothing made me feel any better than, uh, I walked into a gun shop I think yesterday in Oxford. And there was a copy of Rifleman on the, on the counter. It’s got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it. I was a little bit shocked at that — it didn’t have a bullseye on it.

After the comments became public, Burr apologized for them.

Mind you, Burr has a history of making inappropriate jokes about violence, even about assassination, even in public. In 2013, Burr joked with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that his relative Aaron Burr assassinated Treasury Secretaries. And in the same year, Burr joked with John Brennan that drinking four glasses of water

“I’ll be brief,” Burr told the nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. “I see you’re on your fourth glass of water and I don’t want to be accused of waterboarding you.”

But this is different, because he laughed about violence from others against a public figure, rather than joking about his own hypothetical violence. And it did so in a fairly closed event.

Given that as SSCI Chair Burr spends so much time huddling in secret with the intelligence community, Burr’s persistent joking about assassination and related issues does raise questions about what else he jokes in his private sessions with spooks. That’s especially true given how far out of his way he has gone to protect CIA from any accountability for torture.

Burr is, to his credit, virtually alone among an recent Gang of Four members for actually keeping what he learns from briefings secret. That means that, unlike this meeting (hilariously, after 13:00 in the recording, Burr kicks out someone he believes to be a tracker, but the person recording the meeting remained inside recording), we would never learn about how funny Burr thinks assassination is when meeting with those who actually carry them out.

That sure makes him an inappropriate person to head oversight of the intelligence community.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. martin says:

    I’ve got $1k that says this scum sucking IC ass licker, asked the CIA if there was anyway they could assassinate Snowden in Russia.  I just hope the voters of NC kick his ass from here to eternity.  But I’m not holding my breath.  After all…North Carolina loves bonafide scumbags.. like their governor.

  2. Evangelista says:

    Anonymous Observation:

    “We use’ta cut pichers outa magazines an’ pin ’em on our dart-board an’ throw darts at ’em;  politicians, the Pope, Billy Graham, Smokey the Bear, Westmoreland, anybody up command…  Today I s’pose they’d send us out to be shot for that.”

    Question 1:

    “When was that?”

    Answer 1:

    ” ‘Nam;  ’69- ’70.”

    Question 2:

    “What were they doing to you in ‘Nam?”

    Answer 2:

    “Sendin’ us out to be shot at.

    “You reckon there was a connection?  Damn!  So it ain’t new a-tall.”

  3. martin says:

    Question 1:

    “When was that?”

    Answer 1:

    ” ‘Nam;  ’69- ’70.”

    Question 2:

    “What were they doing to you in ‘Nam?”

    Answer 2:

    “Sendin’ us out to be shot at.

    “You reckon there was a connection?  Damn!  So it ain’t new a-tall.”

    fuk. thanks. I needed that.

  4. martin says:

    “You reckon there was a connection?  Damn!  So it ain’t new a-tall.”

    Overheard in a Trump rally.

  5. wayoutwest says:

    I don’t think I have seen any real threats of violence, by anyone in a position of authority,aimed at the Red Queen but I do see Clintonites continually resort to victimization whining whenever dark humor is expressed. Even the lock her up chant at Trump rally’s is described as a call for violence when it is the Justice Department that would be locking her up. This type of humor may be juvenile but there are many good reasons to target the Queen of Chaos.

    This is the type of knee-jerk response that is often seen coming from cults of personality whenever the Glorious Leader is subjected to criticism or mockery. Once she is installed on her throne this or any other disrespect will not be tolerated. Some of her quislings are already out preaching the new catechism of what is acceptable behavior in this new grifter queen era.

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