US Intelligence Chiefs Joust with Democrat Senators
by Jim Kouri, CPP
During a dramatic Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Director of Central Intelligence
Porter Goss alleged that the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects had severely damaged US intelligence-gathering abilities.
"The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission," Goss told the members of the committee.
He also called for a federal grand jury to be impaneled to specifically to determine "who is leaking this information."
While Goss is disturbed over the national security leaks, most senators appear concerned with investigating the White House rather than the leakers.
Goss testified after National Intelligence Director John Negroponte strongly defended the NSA program, calling it "crucial for protecting the nation against its most menacing threat."
"This was not about domestic surveillance," Negroponte sternly said to the Intelligence Committee.
The chiefs of the nation's intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, appeared before the senate panel in a rare public session to give a rundown on threats facing the world. Some senators wished to have the hearings conducted publicly so they could grandstand and make statements against the activities.
During his testimony, Negroponte called Al-Qaeda and associated terror groups the "top concern" of the US intelligence community. He also believes the nuclear activities of Iran and North Korea are equal dangers the US and the world community face.
Democrats apparently couldn't care less. Instead of focusing on threats to Americans and the world, they sought to change the focus of the hearing. They were more interested in making accusations with regard to the president's decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop -- without first obtaining warrants -- on communications to and from those in the United States and terror suspects abroad.
In fact, they continued using the misnomer "domestic spying" which insinuates the eavesdropping affected innocent, ordinary Americans, rather than people in contact with US enemies overseas.
"The president has not only confirmed the existence of the program, he has spoken at length about it repeatedly," while keeping Congress in the dark, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel's senior Democrat.
Of course, Rockefeller knew about the program for years and when questioned about why he waited to display his outrage, he tepidly said, "There was nothing I could do."
This is the same Jay Rockefeller who, during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, flew to Syria and told the Syrian officials about Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Rockefeller did the same with Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter of Wahabbism, a radical Islamic sect.
Goss pointed an accusatory finger at members of the news media who published stories about the surveillance program and activities such as the CIA secret prisons. He said these news stories had damaged his own agency's work.
"I use the words `very severe' intentionally. And I think the evidence will show that," Goss said.
He said not only have these revelations made it harder for the CIA to gather information, but they have made intelligence agencies in other countries mistrustful of their US counterparts. What intelligence officer in Europe wishes his cover blown and his life jeopardized because some politician in America hates the President and leaks top secret information to the media in order to hurt Bush?
"I'm stunned to the quick when I get questions from my professional counterparts saying, `Mr. Goss, can't you Americans keep a secret?'" he said. Goss should have told them he can keep a secret but political leaders such as Senator Leahy can't.
Goss cited a "disruption to our plans, things that we have under way." Some CIA sources and "assets" had been rendered "no longer viable or usable, or less effective by a large degree," he said.
"I also believe that there has been an erosion of the culture of secrecy and we're trying to reinstall that," Goss said.
"I've called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information," he said.
Rockefeller suggested that the "leaks" Goss talked about most likely "came from the executive branch" of the government. One could see Goss biting his tongue when Rockefeller, the biggest backstabber on the committee made the suggestion.
However, while Goss held his tongue from lashing out, FBI Director Robert Mueller shot back at Rockefeller and sternly replied, "It's not fair to point a finger as to the responsibility of the leak."
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.