Bill Frist & Dennis Hastert: We Don’t Care About the Secret Detention Facilities

The Washington Note
by Steven C. Clemons
November 08, 2005

Bill Frist & Dennis Hastert:
We Don't Care About the Secret Detention Facilities
We Just Want to Know WHO Spilled the Beans to Dana Priest

Sometimes in this business of political commentary and blogging, certain things happen that just push one over an emotional edge. I like to give people — including politicians — the benefit of the doubt. I also tend to want to give our elected leaders and policy practitioners a chance to redeem themselves after bad decisions.

We all make mistakes. I have — many times — and I try to be honest about them and correct these.

But the letter that has just been posted at Raw Story shakes me to my marrow. I have so many other things to post now — particularly about the visit to Washington today of Ahmed Chalabi and his AEI speech tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. — but I had to link this letter.

Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have asked House Intel Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra and Senate Intel Committee Chairman Pat Roberts NOT to look into the subject of the hidden sites America has for secretly holding prisoners and detainees — but to look into who LEAKED that information to Dana Priest at the Washington Post.

Here is an excerpt of the letter:

We request that you immediately initiate a joint investigation into the possible release of classified information to the media alleging that the United States government may be detaining and interrogating terrorists at undisclosed locations abroad. As you know, if accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks.

The purpose of your investigation will be to determine the following: was the information provided to the media classified and accurate?; who leaked this information and under what authority?; and, what is the actual and potential damage done to the national security of the United States and our partners in the Global War on Terror? We will consider other changes to this mandate based on your recommendations.

Any information that you obtain on this matter that may implicate possible violations of law should be referred to the Department of Justice for appropriate action.

We expect that you will move expeditiously to complete this inquiry and that you will provide us with periodic updates. We are hopeful that you will be able to accomplish this task in a bipartisan manner given general agreement that intelligence matters should not be politicized. Either way, however, your inquiry shall proceed.

This just makes me sick. Frist still has not learned that the White House has burned him over and over again. And now he is playing their shill once more.

But though I have opposed Frist's general take on the war and these issues for some time — it's still very difficult for me, just as an American citizen — to watch any leader, Republican or Democrat, implicitly endorse the notion that America has the right to indefinitely hold without due process any prisoners or detainees in some systemized fashion.

This is what the Soviet Union did. This is what Maoist China did. This is what America fought the Cold War against! Yes, we are fighting and dealing with horribly dangerous people in the world — but they must be brought to justice in courts of law before American and global peers.

Frist and Hastert have both blighted their careers with this letter. It's outrageous — and they should immediately retract this effort to lynch leakers rather than holding the Executive Branch accountable for serious infractions of human rights and our legal norms.

— Steve Clemons


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