In conversations with several Senate Republican offices, I learned today that key Republicans won’t shy away in upcoming confirmation hearings from asking probing questions about the administration’s policies on enhanced interrogation techniques and the ongoing-investigation of CIA operatives.
In my interview today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voiced the concern of many Republicans, namely that we have have discontinued interrogation methods that provided us with critical intelligence. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) sits on the Senate Armed Services committee. I asked his spokesman if Cornyn would insist in the confirmation hearing that Leon Panetta answer questions about enhanced interrogation techniques and the ongoing investigation of CIA operatives by the Justice Department. His answer was succinct. “Yes, ma’am.”
In a CNBC interview the day after Osama bin Laden’s killing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, “The information that eventually led us to this compound was the direct result of enhanced interrogations; one can conclude if we had not used enhanced interrogations, we would not have come to yesterday’s action.” Burr sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Although he doesn’t sit on the Armed Services Committee (so will not be at Panetta’s hearing), a spokesman said Burr would review the pre-hearing completed questionnaire from the CIA nominee (Gen. David Petraeus) “and formulate his questions.” One can imagine EITs will be on his list. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) (who has not been shy about holding up nominees) doesn’t sit on either relevant committee but his spokesman was clear that the senator “believes it would be appropriate for those questions to be asked.” He also pointed to DeMint’s comments at a hearing on Pakistan last week in which he saluted the CIA’s work in extracting information critical to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
In short, it is almost certain that more than one Republican will be asking the questions that my colleague Greg Sargent and I discussed yesterday: What information did we gather through EITs? What alternatives do we now have? And why are we still investigating CIA officials who did their jobs and apparently contributed to a significant victory in the war against Islamic terrorism?