March 13, 2014


Meet Senator Richard Burr, the pro-waterboarding conservative who wants to give Obama more power (Ryan Cooper, 3/13/14, The Week)

[W]ith the case of Richard Burr (R-N.C.), we see a senator who would be complicit in his own institutional disenfranchisement.

As I wrote this morning, the CIA is fighting desperately to prevent the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee torture report which will, almost certainly, expose the torture program as the monstrous and illegal farce it in fact was. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has been one of the most prominent critics of the security apparatus, and he's been near the center of the CIA-Senate fight.

The security apparatus has thus been looking for an opportunity to discredit or get rid of him. Up steps Senator Burr, all but accusing Udall of trying to murder the American people in an interview with Politico: "Members can do whatever they want to. My concern is that the release of information could potentially cause the losses of life to Americans."

This is obvious misdirection, of course. This fight has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the American people or intelligence at all. This is a bunch of torturers trying to avoid accountability for committing war crimes. Marcy Wheeler is appropriately cutting: "Right. Knowing the truth about CIA's torture will kill us all."

On one level this is merely typically monstrous Republican partisanship. Accusing Democrats of basically supporting the terrorists is standard GOP practice. And there's an individual motive, too: Burr is the number two Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and since number one Saxby Chambliss is retiring, should Republicans retake the Senate in 2014 Burr stands to gain the committee gavel.

But consider the deeper implications: Should he succeed in his attempt to undermine Senator Udall to save the CIA torturers, he will have won the chair of a rump Intelligence Committee with no power or influence. Having lost a straight oversight fight with the CIA, everyone will know they might as well not even bother to meet. The strangest thing is that Senator Burr doesn't seem to be much disturbed by this. Indeed, he seems positively eager to stop this whole fight and give the security apparatus whatever they want.

Posted by at March 13, 2014 7:15 PM

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