Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sharply criticized congressional appropriators Thursday for secretly slipping language into the omnibus spending bill that preserves the CIA’s role in lethal counterterrorism operations.
Waving around a copy of The Post while speaking on the Senate floor, McCain blasted his colleagues on the Senate and House Appropriations committee for making such a key decision without formally and publicly consulting the authorizing committees for the CIA and Defense Department.
“The Appropriations Committee has no business making these decisions," he said. "The job of the Armed Services Committee and the job of the Intelligence Committee is to authorize these things. There was no hearing on the Intelligence Committee. There was no hearing on the Armed Services Committee."
"The appropriations have gotten into the business of the authorizing committees," he added later. "That is a violation of every procedure and process that this Senate is supposed to be pursuing."
Indeed, the provision regarding drones is an unusually direct intervention by lawmakers into the way covert operations are run and will likley impede the administration's plans to return the CIA’s focus to traditional intelligence gathering and possibly bringing more transparency to drone strikes.
Several lawmakers on the intelligence panels and their aides declined to confirm or comment publicly on the move in recent days.