This is a few days old, but it's Christmas and I was sick anyway. Anyway, this is going to be an issue next year:
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the intelligence community say Alissa Starzak, a majority staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) who has been nominated for the position of general counsel to the U.S. Army, is one of two SSCI employees accused by the panel's Republicans, and by career intelligence officers, of having "stolen" the so-called Panetta Review: a classified study of the agency's treatment of detainees prepared by former CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Basically, Ms. Starzak had been approved on the committee level by the old Armed Services committee, but that's expired; and while a Democrat hoping that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) comes to your rescue might not be the most unlikely thing in the world, alas - it may not be sufficient, in this case. This issue has been seething just under the surface of Beltway politics for several years now - the CIA even called for a criminal investigation into how Starzak and fellow Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones got access to the document in question in 2010 - and it's almost certain to flare up in 2015.
And here's the thing: Alissa Starzak is, at this point, tainted by her actions. Even if you think that the CIA has been torturing a g0-go since 1066 AD, the brutal truth of the matter is that, reading between the lines, Starzak and Jones did in fact walk off with restricted materials without telling the CIA that they were doing it. Even if you think that they were morally justified in doing so, that should be brought up at a sentencing hearing. Not a confirmation hearing*.
And that's just the ethical/moral angle. From a purely pragmatic point of view we should immediately start off 2015 by formally throwing out every single pending nomination in the backlog and letting the President know that he'll be needing to go back to the drawing board. Hey, it's not our fault that Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is a staggeringly incompetent nincompoop who couldn't organize a legislative calendar to save his life. Or, possibly more importantly, a critical number of his associates' political careers.
(Image via Shutterstock)
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Yes, yes, I am a horrible human being for not idolizing the whistle-blower above all things. Truth be told, I don't particularly want to see either of those two in jail for walking off with that document. But neither do I want either working in government.