If U.S. Congress is going to form a special subcommittee looking at government overreach and illegality, then it should do exactly that.
By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News
House Republicans last week announced that they would quickly create a special committee that they referred to as the Church Committee II. Formally, they named it the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The subcommittee was created on a straight party-line vote: All 221 Republicans voted in favor while all 211 Democrats were opposed.
It will be chaired by far-right Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, the former wrestling coach at Ohio State University whom six former wrestlers accused of doing nothing to help them, despite the fact that he knew they were being molested by the team doctor. Jordan is also the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; in one of life’s ironies, despite graduating from an obscure law school in central Ohio, he never bothered to take the bar exam.
House Republicans, upon creation of the subcommittee, said that it would be responsible for a “wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies.” But in private conversations, these same Republicans said that they would “use their new power in Congress to scrutinize what they said was a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels, from protestors at school board meetings to former President Donald J. Trump,” according to The New York Times.
That doesn’t bear even a fleeting resemblance to the Church Committee.
The Church Committee
First, let’s recall what, exactly, it was that the Church Committee accomplished. The Church Committee, and its House counterpart, the Pike Committee, were created in 1975 to investigate abuses by the C.I.A. and other government entities. These abuses were not based on complaints from one political party that the government was harassing its adherents. Instead, these abuses amounted to crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against the American people.
Among the things that the Church and Pike Committees uncovered were the U.S. Army’s spying operations against American citizens, particularly those who were opposed to the Vietnam War; assassination operations against foreign leaders, including Zaire’s Patrice Lumumba, the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo, Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, General Rene Schneider of Chile and Cuba’s Fidel Castro; the C.I.A.’s MKULTRA program, in which the C.I.A. tortured and drugged with LSD unwitting American citizens as part of a program of long-term experiments on mind control; and the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO, short for Counterintelligence Program, which involved surveillance of American political, peace and civil rights organizations and the infiltration of those organizations without any probable cause, warrants or court orders.
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The Church Committee was a collection of the era’s political giants. It was chaired, of course, by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID), who went on to run for president in 1976. Other Democrats included Senate office building namesake Sen. Philip Hart (D-MI), future Vice President Sen. Walter Mondale (D-MN), Sen. Walter “Dee” Huddleston (D-KY), Sen. Robert Morgan (D-NC) and future presidential candidate Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO).
Republicans also were well-represented. The committee’s vice chairman was Sen. John Tower (R- TX), while other members included Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN); former Republican presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ); Sen. Charles “Mac” Matthias (R-MD); and future Republican vice-presidential candidate and secretary of health and human services, Sen. Richard Schweiker (R-PA). Every one of them, from both parties, was an intellectual heavyweight.
Jordan’s New Creation
Compare that to Jordan’s new creation. There are no Democrats on the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, although House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has authorized the subcommittee to be made up of nine Republicans and six Democrats. The Republican members haven’t yet been named and the Democrats are boycotting.
In the meantime, Democrats are calling the new body not a “Church Committee II,” but a new McCarthy Committee. They’re not talking about Kevin McCarthy. They’re talking about Sen. Joe McCarthy, that drunken hate-filled lout who ruined the lives of countless Americans by accusing them of being Communists or of being weak on Communism without any proof whatsoever and then drank himself to death a few years later.
I want to make clear that I hate the F.B.I. as much as any Republican does. The F.B.I. has raided my housetwice and it has worked hard to ruin my life and to put me in prison after I blew the whistle on the C.I.A.’s illegal, immoral and unethical torture program. They failed. But their actions against me cost me my family and my freedom for two years and it drove me into bankruptcy.
Still, if we’re going to have a special subcommittee looking at government overreach and illegality, then let’s do exactly that. Go ahead and investigate the F.B.I. and its targeting of Republicans, as well as Democrats, journalists, peace groups, Julian Assange and everybody else on the chopping block.
Go ahead and investigate the IRS (which audited me for the first time just weeks after I blew the whistle and continued to audit me every single year for the next decade).
Go ahead and investigate the C.I.A., which hacked into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computer system to spy on Senate investigators looking into the torture program.
My guess is that Jordan doesn’t have the guts to do any of that. He wouldn’t even investigate a pedophile doctor when he had the opportunity. Why should we expect anything different now?
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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Thanks to John for adding reality to the governments transgressions.
Now about those large number of missing documents backing the hearing up? What happened and why.
I came to USA in 1980 from then Communist Poland, and I had some interest in politics, news etc. Needless to say, back in those times Congress and the bulk of the media were very much in the hands of Business, but there was a much larger variety of opinions, more strong personalities, and more decency in both major parties, particularly, among Democrats.
For example, there was a recognition that doing s..t is morally wrong AND doing nothing good to Americans. With that motivation, starting from 1982 (411-0 vote that year), an amendment to federal budget was prohibiting the CIA or Defense Department to use the funds of the bill for military purposes in Nicaragua.
Strange as it may seem today, funding and arming bandits to raid a country (from Honduras to Nicaragua), burning and looting, was not popular!? CIA was not particularly trusted!? Even if we think that the Athenian voice in Melian dialogue, “the strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must”, wrecking havoc in some country does not make American lives better, businesses more prosperous etc. We can do it, but why the heck we should?
Fast forward. Op-Ed in NYT declares that Trump should be impeached because of … undermining trust in intelligence agencies. Doubting Russiagate and all such. In short, NIE should be treated with more reverence that papal bullae by Roman Catholics. Toto, it seems like Kansas, but not the same Kansas anymore. Actually, it was a German Atlanticist think tanker writing, but of course, such sentiment was increasingly obligatory across “collective West”. It is not the Deep State wisdom, foresight and concern for common weal that was improving, but the manipulation technology. Money, think tanks, quangos etc. put their act together, eliminating one though or memory after another. “Our narrative” had to skip more and more, and straying from it was tolerated less and less.
The ideas that we should not wreck havoc merely because we can, that we should not trust liars whose lies were documented, or drawing various logical conclusions became forbidden, and avoidance, universal. Even by “crazy” people like GOP rebels and Musk. Twitter let Scott Ritter to post for whopping 48 hours, and this effort toward free speech apparently exceeded moral capacities of the organization. “We did so much good that we will get insane unless we rape a few children” or flog same Twitterers again and again.
So our yet to be organized Committee will investigate if some Republicans suffered just because they were Republicans. As it should be according to “Athenian voice” in Melian debate: they are not so weak that they have to suffer.
“In the meantime, Democrats are calling the new body not a “Church Committee II,” but a new (Joe) McCarthy Committee.”
The party that itself has become the Joe McCarthy committee is now calling up the remembrance of that horrid excuse for a human being. The Dems, just like old Joe, will vilify anyone who points out the USA’s incitement of the Russian proxy war in Ukraine. Anyone who dares to point out the truth of this proxy war will be by the Dem’s standard a Putin enabler or a Russian Troll. It seems the ghost of that old bastard will never leave the halls of Washington.
We need, as a nation, more ways to test those elected ones BEFORE they get to Congress.
I would like America to do this:
Everyone who wins an election—is not really done yet. Each supposed winner needs to take a Constitution test, so that they understand their own government, or at least what their own government is SUPPOSED TO BE!
Each said to be winner would take that Constitution test, which would be quite involved and require each supposed winner of the seat to make an 80% on the test. If they fail, the person who came in second would take the test….and if no one passed it— then sadly representation would be lacking for 6 months until SOMEONE would pass that test!
There are quite a few really dumb and lazy people being elected—which does not bode well for America’s history. Sadly too, I think many in Congress are too dumb or too lazy to pass the test——this nation would no doubt be smarter and stronger if those who ran for public office truly had an understanding of their own nation!
Americans including Mr. Kiriakou, need to understand and accept the fact that whenever the US regime run by both Democrats and Republicans is in danger of being affected by revelations of misconduct, treasonous activity or corruption, they close ranks in what is considered a red line that will never be crossed. Otherwise notorious and proven war criminals corrupetd to the bone of the likes of: The Bush crime family, the husband and wife Clinton Foundation , War criminal Barak Obama and the latest champion of unbriddled corruption the Biden family clan, should be thrown in jail for life. I purposely omitted the allegations against Master Trump since most of them were fabreicated by the Democrats. This last comment does not involve at all any degree of support for Trump, who is located at the opposite end of the political spectrum tha counts with my aproval.
“a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels”
If so, it’s remarkably UN-successful. Has anyone noticed that conservatives are “silenced”? Granted, some of them seem to think so; but i certainly hear them plenty. And censorship on things like the US role in Ukraine or the response to Covid affect both “sides”. Witness the effort to silence Kiriakou.
Barry Goldwater, John Tower and Fritz Mondale “intellectual heavyweights”? Really? Only in an exceptional country like the US could that be so.
Sorry to be ever skeptical and negative: This is partisan contrived drama, and a distraction. We cannot expect “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” to investigate itself, let alone indict and imprison anyone.
I am tired of reading/hearing about Democrats blah blah, Republicans blah blah. The entire institutional framework of the US govt. is corrupt to the core. Please correct me if I am being too pessimistic.
Like the Russiagate BS, the Jan 6 drama, etc. Noting will come of it.
I must be getting old: I clearly recall the Attorney General of the USA looking straight into the camera and saying the largest financial crimes in US history would not be even be investigated. The banksters were “Too Big To Fail”. They are Above The Law.
I recall Obama saying that the crimes of the Bush Jr. regime would not be investigated. Both factions of the Country Club are Above the Law.
“Taxes and Prison are only for The Little People”
J.J. congrats on making a direct hit on the partisan charade of co-operative governance and calling it what is actually is.
My compliments to the author.
I do not suppose there is any possible way to make the author the congressional chief of staff in charge of running this proposed new Church Committee?
Nothing like a seriously aggrieved man on a mission for a cause he will die for. Full steam ahead.
So your only claim to smear Jim Jordan is some salacious charge that would imagine Jordan as responsible for someone else’s crimes. That is all you have got. Instead of ‘far-right,’ why not just come out an call him a nazi, like your antifa pals or your old boss John Kerry might. Where is Kerry now? In Davos, yukking it up with the rest of the pukes who put you in prison. Your old deep state has finally gone too far. That is what this is about. Jim Jordan has been one of the few voices of dissent as your deep state has put so many innocent people in prison while letting real criminals walk solely on the basis of their party affiliation. The CIA using extreme punitive measures on foreign combatants may be questionable. But the corruption of the entire Federal Government for purely political prosecution of those with opposing political views is an existential threat to our Republic.
The Democrats should not be boycotting this Committee!
Do you actually think their presence would do any good?
The Church Committee was mostly hot air. I don’t remember any CIA officers going to jail for their atrocities and murders. Colby and Poppy Bush kept the CIA’s nefarious activities (National Security!) going “on the side” while visible CIA officials pretended to kowtow to the Church Committee while lying through their teeth. Trento’s “The Secret History of the CIA”– supposedly Kiriakou’s favorite (from an earlier article here)–notes former CIA Head (and Vietnam Architect among other “achievements”) Richard Helms became a hero of the CIA, bamboozling the Committee with his non-stop bald-faced lies to the Committee. Trento claimed the only person to suffer from the Church Committee was Edward Korry (former ambassador to Chile, undercut by the CIA coup against Allende and the installation of Pinochet), mostly from honesty but partly from association with Nixon, who was still under attack. The only substantial law to come out of the Church investigation was FISA, which of course has weaponized by the Democrats against political opponents. Republicans will follow that precedent.
As you note Democrats were different then; the Senate supported creation of the Church Committee 82-4. We’ll see, but so far Democrats unanimously oppose the creation of “Church II”. No doubt they realize that it will attack “their” CIA and FBI, and be turned on them just as the original Church Committee was still aimed at Nixon.
There will never again be a Church Committee, or, for that matter, an Iran-Contra style investigation to examine closely and hold to account crimes/overreach of the National Security State. The two wings of the Property Party have long since closed ranks to protect any and all machinations of the state.
it is up to independent journalists to expose any waste/fraud/abuse and other crimes of the state. The most consequential journalist of our generation – Julian Assange – exposed US war crimes and massive illegal surveillance of US citizens, among other things. For THIS, he is (literally) being hounded to death by the US gov’t. His saga is a warning/threat to journalists WORLDWIDE to look the other way when it comes to ANYTHING the US does.
Governance in the USA today is a pathetic kind of freak show. The days of doing “the peoples’ business” are long gone. It’s all ‘who’s up, who’s down’ between the two wings of the Business Party, as they fight for the spoils of corporate largesse. There is ZERO integrity within the so-called “greatest deliberative body in the world”. What a sick joke!
Question is, when will people wake up or will they ever wake up? They are accepting this fraud and actively participating in this farce of a government without getting any real benefit.
“Governance in the USA today is a pathetic kind of freak show.”
Indeed! Agree completely and for that reason, nothing should be or is expected from this kabuki theater going on in the uniparty.
Question. If the dems are boycotting the committee, aren’t they sabotaging it? Since Trump, the FBI has been very close with the dems and certainly biased against Trump, if not the Republicans generally. But of course all rot should see the light of day.
The Dems can see — as does JK — that it is not a true investigative committee.
Thank you JK for asking for a true Church-like group to do The People’s Will.
Then do you think the dems are correct to boycott the committee? Do you not see it as a sabotage to cover up their misdeeds?