Since the birth of our nation over 220 years ago, the principle of civilian government oversight of our armed services and intelligence agencies has been the backbone of our national defense. For example, the Joint Chiefs of Staff report to a civilian: the Secretary of Defense. In addition, each branch of Congress has a Select Committee on Intelligence. American intelligence agencies are required to report their activities to these committees on a regular basis. The required civilian oversight is a safeguard put in place to ensure there are not rouge intelligence officials making improper decisions that could affect this country.
Prior to serving as Speaker, Representative Pelosi served as the senior Democrat member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and would have been a part of all briefings on our intelligence activities while serving on the committee. However, recently, Speaker Pelosi claimed she was unaware of the enhanced techniques being used to question suspected terrorists and accused our intelligence agencies of lying and withholding information from her and other members of Congress who serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
“So yes I am saying that…the CIA was misleading the Congress…They mislead us all the time,” Speaker Pelosi stated in a press conference late last month. “In fact, we were told that waterboarding was not being used.”
As you can see, her accusations are very alarming. We simply cannot have any intelligence agency or their employees lying to members of Congress. And if that is the case, those individuals should be terminated at the very least, if not prosecuted for their actions.
However, if Speaker Pelosi has no proof of her allegations or she misspoke, I sincerely hope that as the senior leader of the House of Representatives and third in line to the presidency, Ms. Pelosi will offer an apology to the members of our intelligence community who have worked so hard the last seven and a half years to ensure that this country does not suffer another attack like the one on September 11th 2001. At a time when our country continues to be the focus of terrorist attacks, our leadership must unite behind our armed forces and intelligence communities to ensure the safety of every American citizen.
Frank Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For more Frankly Speakings, please visit Rep. Lucas’ Blog at http://www.house.gov/lucas/frankly-speaking/index.shtml.