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Monday, December 17, 2007

"It smells like the coverup of the coverup."

By Paul Kiel - December 17, 2007, 8:36AM
That's Rep. Jane Harman's (D-CA) take. And Rep. Pete Hoekstra's (R-MI) wasn't any different.
In case you were already out the door late Friday afternoon when the news broke, the Justice Department, along with the CIA's inspector general, informed the House intelligence committee that they'd told the CIA not to cooperate with the committee's investigation into the CIA's torture tapes. Congress would just have to wait until the joint Justice Department-CIA probe was done (when? who knows) before they got any answers. The reason given was that it would "jeopardize" the Justice Department's investigation if the CIA gave the committee all the information it wanted while at the same time cooperating with the DoJ inquiry.
Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and Hoekstra pronounced themselves "stunned." There's "no basis" for the DoJ to do that, they said. Harman, the former ranking member on the committee, said the same yesterday.
The ground is being laid for an ol' fashioned separation-of-powers showdown. Hoekstra went further, saying "I think we will issue subpoenas." With Republican backup, it should prove pretty easy for Reyes to pull the trigger. Hoekstra even singled out CIA Director Mike Hayden, promising to hold him "accountable."
And remember, Hoekstra and Reyes weren't the only lawmakers Michael Mukasey's Justice Department upset on Friday. Mukasey sent a friendly none-of-your-business letter in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questions about the CIA tapes. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was "disappointed" and promised to make that clear when Mukasey appeared before his committee in the new year.

At this point, it's worth observing that Michael Mukasey has been on the job as attorney general barely a month and has already united both parties in Congress against him. That's some quick work.
But wait! The Department also argued Friday that a federal judge should not hold a hearing on the tapes, saying that a hearing would be "both unnecessary and potentially disruptive.” Lawyers representing 12 detainees at Guantanamo had asked for one. Is a three branches free-for-all in the works?


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