The Slatest

The Democrats’ CIA Praise Has Gotten Embarrassing

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (and Washington Sen. Patty Murray) on Jan. 5 on Capitol Hill.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The CIA has had what one might call a checkered history. In the 1970s, congressional hearings revealed that it’d been engaging in a staggering variety of illegal activity for years, including the administration of brain-altering drugs to unwitting civilian test subjects. It subjected post-9/11 terror suspects to a program of torture designed by two quacks with no experience in intelligence-gathering or criminal interrogation. It was among the many entities that botched the assessment of Iraq’s nonexistent WMD program.

Meanwhile, of our two major parties, the Democratic Party is the one that’s supposed to be most concerned about human rights and whatnot. But it’s also the party of opposition to Donald Trump, who’s currently engaged in a public pissing contest with the CIA over whether Russian agents were responsible for obtaining the WikiLeaked DNC/Podesta emails. So now Democrats love the CIA and its staff of unassailable patriots. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill:

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, at Thursday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about Russian hacking, referring to Trump’s disparagement of the CIA:

I want to explore a little bit why these very demeaning and dismissive comments about our intelligence community are so dangerous to our nation.

Here’s Blumenthal after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that U.S. intelligence agencies have learned from the mistakes that were made in the Iraq war runup:

I appreciate the extraordinary humility of that statement, especially in light of the excellence and expertise that your organization and you personally have brought to [the investigation of Russian hacking] … the disparagement has been a terrible disservice to our nation and to the very brave and courageous men and women who put their lives at risk so that this nation can be better informed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I mean—we need spies to gather intelligence, sure. And there are probably a lot of smart and well-intentioned individuals in the CIA, and some of them do jobs that put themselves in harm’s way, which is admirable.

But come on.

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly:

I’m grateful for the amazing efforts that our intelligence agencies put forth every single day … to make sure that we’re safe and to make sure that all Americans have a chance to take care of their families and go to sleep at night without having to worry.

Will Joe Donnelly’s children come to grudgingly enjoy his bedtime stories about the disposal of Patrice Lumumba’s corpse?

Incidentally, only two years ago the CIA admitted it had “improperly accessed” and monitored computers being used by Senate staffers who were researching a report about the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.