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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Congressional Leak Hearings

Posted by on July 28 at 11:48 AM

Seattle native Ari Melber joins The Huffington Post crowd with a smart take on the upcoming hearings that Republicans in Congress have finally agreed to hold on the CIA leak scandal.

The Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, is organizing the hearings and says they are only supposed to be about how the CIA decides which officers to call “covert” — which gives Republicans an opportunity to question whether Valerie Plame really should have been considered covert at all, rather than asking why the Bush administration outed a covert CIA agent in the first place.

But as Ari notes, “this is a risky strategy that could backfire on live television.”

Televised hearings give Senators a chance to expose more details on Plame's outing and directly confront Roberts' smears. If any Senator on the committee substantively challenges Roberts, it would put the Chairman on the defensive, make news and get people talking about how this leak compromised national security.

Should Roberts be worried? His staff is already concerned the hearings will depart from their partisan script. Two days after the CNN announcement, a Roberts spokesperson strained to remind everyone that Plame was off limits for the hearings, declaring the committee will not examine "specific actions taken by White House aides in connection with the Plame leak."

But it may be too late. When the gavel drops and the cameras go live, Senators from both parties will have to choose between partisan attacks on the CIA and a serious inquiry of undercover outings and twisted intelligence.