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MT: Zinke questions release of CIA report

A controversial report on “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the CIA to gather information in the War on Terror has resulted in diverging opinions among military veterans in Congress.  Ryan Zinke, Montana’s newly elected member of the House, disagrees with the manner in which the information was released.  As reported by Washington Free Beacon:

Zinke is a retired commander who served on the elite SEAL Team 6 and the first SEAL elected to the House of Representatives. His criticism came one day after former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D., Neb.), the first Navy SEAL elected to the Senate, slammed the partisan nature of the report in a USA Today op-ed.

“In the war against global Jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult,” Kerrey wrote. “I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.”

Zinke echoed these statements. The report failed to acknowledge “the context of the true threat” of terrorism, as well as enhanced interrogation’s ability “to protect American lives and soldiers on the battlefield,” he said. He added that the report highlighted some important issues about the CIA’s handling of suspected terrorists and the lack of accountability at the agency.

“Our first priority is to make sure Congress has oversight [on the CIA]. Look at the IRS or Fast and Furious or Benghazi. The common theme is that Congress must exercise its constitutional duty to hold every agency accountable. The CIA isn’t alone,” Zinke said.

The congressman took issue with the fact that Senate Democrats used the report to chase headlines, rather than institute actual reforms.

John McCain, a veteran whose opinion is shaped by time spent as a POW in Vietnam, supported the release of the report, as reported by USA Today:

“I believe the American people have a right — indeed, a responsibility — to know what was done in their name; how these practices did or did not serve our interests; and how they comported with our most important values.

“What were the policies? What was their purpose? Did they achieve it? Did they make us safer? Less safe? Or did they make no difference? What did they gain us? What did they cost us? The American people need the answers to these questions. Yes, some things must be kept from public disclosure to protect clandestine operations, sources and methods, but not the answers to these questions.

In Zinke’s view, the manner in which the information was released is problematic.

“I think the report shouldn’t have been released … it should have been a white paper,” he said.

The political handling of military affairs, from rules of engagement, to micromanagement of low-level officers, and military culture, are devoid of the interests and effectiveness of “our people who get the job done,” according to Zinke. He plans to provide that perspective when he is sworn into office and assumes his position on the House Armed Services Committee.

I’m going to push back against making decisions based on politics, rather than what is right for the mission,” he said. “When it comes to the battlefield, it’s the military’s job to win and win decisively.”

You don’t fight wars with admirals and generals. I’m going to champion the enlisted and junior leadership … our people who get the job done,” he said.

Zinke has been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee for the 114th Congress.

Michael Mattson

Michael Mattson is State Editor for Watchdog Wire - Montana. He is founder and Executive Editor of The Hellroaring Review, an online literary journal that focuses on very short ("flash") fiction, as well as The Hellroaring Report, a news aggregator focused on the Mountain West and Northern Plains. Contact Michael at Montana@WatchdogWire.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Hell_Roaring

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Categories: Government Transparency, Must Read, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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