House Intelligence Committee launches probe

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE LAUNCHES PROBE…. Given what we’ve learned this week, this seems like the right call.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says his panel will investigate whether the CIA broke the law by not telling Congress earlier about a secret program to deploy hit teams to kill individual al-Qaida members.

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the committee about the program on June 24, a day after he first learned of the program and canceled it himself.

Law requires that the House and Senate intelligence committees be kept informed of significant intelligence activities or anticipated activities. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Tex., announced the investigation in a statement Friday.

According to a press release issued by the committee, the investigation “will focus on the core issues of how the congressional intelligence committees and Congress are kept fully and currently informed. To this end, the investigation will examine several issues, including the program discussed during Director Panetta’s June 24th notification and whether there was any official decision or direction to withhold information from the Committee.”

This week, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said he agreed the agency probably should have briefed lawmakers on the assassination program, but disagrees that the CIA was legally obligated to do so, calling it a “judgment call” under the circumstances. Obviously, a full investigation will determine whether that’s the right assessment or not.

Regardless, that the committee’s leadership is moving forward with a probe, whether the administration wants one or not, signals the willingness of at least some House Dems to take Bush-era accountability seriously, regardless of the politics as it relates to the White House.

Also, as Greg Sargent noted, it suggests the GOP’s concern trolling didn’t work: “House Dems are ignoring the insistence by some Republicans and conservatives that continuing to raise questions about the CIA’s conduct is bad politically for Democrats. House GOPers have repeatedly sounded the refrain that the continued focus on the CIA by House Dems is very, very bad news for Nancy Pelosi, because it plays into GOP efforts to paint her and Democrats as weak on national security. It seems Dems are forging ahead and ignoring the GOP’s well-intentioned advice.”

It’s almost as if some Democratic leaders believe Republicans don’t really have their best interests at heart. Imagine that.