Editorial: Trustworthy intelligence mandatory

Mar. 12, 2014 @ 10:45 PM

Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s words were sharp. So were those of Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“People should go to jail if it’s true,” Graham said.

Feinstein said the CIA has intentionally disrupted an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee she leads and may have violated the Constitution and federal law.

At issue is the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Feinstein’s committee has been probing since 2009, which is shortly after Barack Obama came to the White House and banned enhanced interrogation methods previously approved by President George W. Bush.

More than a dozen years after 9/11— and we believe it will continue forever — we’re still trying to find our way when it comes to threats on our country and abiding by the spirit of the laws of our Founding Fathers. Our moral compass is challenged regularly.

Protecting our country is first and foremost to Feinstein, Congress and the CIA. But the how and the boundaries are in dispute. And we’re not easily finding them.

This Washington debacle isn’t politically partisan. It is territorial for Congress, the overseer of the executive branch as set up more than 200 years ago.

Feinstein’s public condemnation is leaving key elements of the Beltway speechless. They’re waiting on more information. And that’s positive.

She’s said the cover-ups by the CIA include destruction of videotape interrogation evidence, handing over millions of pages of documents with no organization or index, taking back pages secretly, and snooping into Senate investigators’ computers.

To put it in perspective, given the time and enormity of the investigation, the CIA documents number 6.2 million pages. Yes, million.

Considering not all lawmakers were willing to read the more than 2,000 pages of the Affordable Care Act, anyone with skepticism on any aspect of the allegations or the denials has grounds.

The CIA’s mission, from its website, is to preempt threats and further U.S. national security objectives. It does so by collecting intelligence, producing analysis and working covertly as directed by the president. It safeguards “the secrets that help keep our nation safe.”

CIA methods can always be debated. But when those methods are under investigation, the CIA can’t interfere.

And if it has, we’ll agree with Graham.