Courtesy Reuters

Committee Confusion

By Douglas Bereuter

In his review of several documents on the U.S. Senate’s report on the CIA's torture of detainees, Robert Jervis (“The Torture Blame Game,” May/June 2015) mistakenly states that the chairs and vice chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were briefed about the CIA’s interrogation programs beginning in September 2002. As the vice chair of the House Intelligence Committee at that time, I want to make it clear that it was the chair and the ranking minority member of the committee, not the vice chair, who were briefed on that program and on other matters concealed from the full membership of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees after 9/11.

After 9/11, the Bush administration, claiming that it was concerned about alleged leaks, began providing certain information to only the top Republican and the top Democrat on each Intelligence Committee. After this practice began, I sent a formal complaint to the Speaker of the House and the House minority leader that members of the House Intelligence Committee, including me, were being denied information traditionally shared with all members of the committee. I argued, to no avail, that I could not assure my House colleagues that I was receiving the information necessary for the proper oversight of the nation’s intelligence operations. During at least the period when I remained in Congress, the executive branch made no changes to these practices.

DOUGLAS BEREUTER, Former U.S. Representative, Nebraska 

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