McCain: The CIA Lied To Congress About American Hostage

220px-john_mccain_official_portrait_with_alternative_backgroundCIASen. John McCain, R-Arizona, was irate this Sunday in declaring that the CIA lied to him and to Congress about a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, being held in Iran. However, unlike demands for the jailing of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden for revealing government abuses, McCain notably did not even suggest prosecuting CIA officials who allegedly consistently and repeatedly lied to Congress. No, he suggests that the latest example of false statements to Congress might require a reexamination of congressional oversight. Now that must be chilling for people who could be charged with federal crimes ranging from perjury to obstruction to false statements to federal officers.

I previously wrote a column how our country seems to have developed separate rules for the ruling elite and the rest of us. There is no better example than the lack of response of the Senate to the admitted perjury of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before Congress. While the Justice Department has prosecuted people for the smallest departure from the truth, including testimony before Congress, no one in the Senate is calling for an investigation, let alone a prosecution, of Clapper. For his part, Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing his political approach to enforcing the law and declining to even acknowledge the admitted perjury of Clapper. Now, in a truly bizarre moment, Clapper has written a letter of apology like an errant schoolboy to excuse his commission of a felony crime . . . and it appears to have been accepted. What is curious is that we do not have letters from senators like Dianne Feinstein apologizing to doing nothing when they were all aware that Clapper was lying in his public testimony. Welcome to America’s Animal Farm.

The greatest irony is that McCain’s outrage is anything should embolden security officials who can rest assured that even if they lie to Congress, the most that they will face is a threat of more oversight by an institution with a laughable record of oversight.

News reports suggest that Levinson may have been on an assignment for the CIA after the government denied such allegations for years. Levinson disappeared in Iran in March 2007 — purportedly on a business trip. The Associated Press has reported that he was a CIA operative. Yet, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who sits on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, says that the CIA officials may have looked him in the eye and lied. He told CNN “If that’s true, then you put this on top of things that our intelligence committees didn’t know about other activities, which have been revealed by (NSA leaker Edward) Snowden — maybe it means that we should be examining the oversight role of Congress over our different intelligence agencies.” Wow, senators are now citing Snowden’s revelations as a source while demanding that he be hunted down and jailed. However, if CIA officials lied, they could look forward to the Clapper treatment: a choreographed hearing and appointment to a federal commission to review their own conduct.

Source: CNN

32 thoughts on “McCain: The CIA Lied To Congress About American Hostage”

  1. Levinson, a retired FBI agent, was in Iran at the bequest of CIA agents. We are not yet sure what those agents represented to him about his status. Was he a spy, or just someone gathering information that was open to the public? And where $2,000,000 was paid to the Levinson family, we have abundant evidence that the CIA wanted to hush this up. Reportedly the agents most closely involved have been fired. Let’s have Congress start there and see how high up this runs.

  2. ask Kennedy how challenging the cia works also nixon, and we see how successfully they backed down clinton among others…… ride or die is the mantra at the cia/mossad killing machine

  3. McCain’s reluctance to actually doing anything significant about CIA’s lies and perfidies is readily understandable. To challenge CIA in any shape or form is usually met with strong opposition. The last politician to challenge CIA by instituting orders to reduce CIA’s powers and by firing three of its top officers experienced the zeal of CIA’s opposition one afternoon in November 1963. Since then, no politicians have ever dared to tamper with CIA.

    Here’s a nice little scene of how presidents deal with CIA:

  4. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sidney Schanberg wrote a long story about John McCain and his role in the coverup of missing POWs in Vietnam. Here are some excerpts but you can Google: John McCain and POWs and find this whole article. Here are some excerpts:

    John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.
    Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain’s role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain’s military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn’t talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.
    The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington—and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that “men were left behind.” This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number—the documents indicate probably hundreds—of the U.S. prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.
    Mass of Evidence
    The Pentagon had been withholding significant information from POW families for years. What’s more, the Pentagon’s POW/MIA operation had been publicly shamed by internal whistleblowers and POW families for holding back documents as part of a policy of “debunking” POW intelligence even when the information was obviously credible.
    The pressure from the families and Vietnam veterans finally forced the creation, in late 1991, of a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. The chairman was John Kerry. McCain, as a former POW, was its most pivotal member. In the end, the committee became part of the debunking machine.
    One of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon’s performance was an insider, Air Force Lt. Gen. Eugene Tighe, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the 1970s. He openly challenged the Pentagon’s position that no live prisoners existed, saying that the evidence proved otherwise. McCain was a bitter opponent of Tighe, who was eventually pushed into retirement.
    Included in the evidence that McCain and his government allies suppressed or sought to discredit is a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general’s briefing of the Hanoi politburo, discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar in 1993. The briefing took place only four months before the 1973 peace accords. The general, Tran Van Quang, told the politburo members that Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war’s end as leverage to ensure getting war reparations from Washington.
    Throughout the Paris negotiations, the North Vietnamese tied the prisoner issue tightly to the issue of reparations. They were adamant in refusing to deal with them separately. Finally, in a Feb. 2, 1973 formal letter to Hanoi’s premier, Pham Van Dong, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion in “postwar reconstruction” aid “without any political conditions.” But he also attached to the letter a codicil that said the aid would be implemented by each party “in accordance with its own constitutional provisions.” That meant Congress would have to approve the appropriation, and Nixon and Kissinger knew well that Congress was in no mood to do so. The North Vietnamese, whether or not they immediately understood the double-talk in the letter, remained skeptical about the reparations promise being honored—and it never was. Hanoi thus appears to have held back prisoners—just as it had done when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrew their forces from Vietnam. In that case, France paid ransoms for prisoners and brought them home.
    In a private briefing in 1992, high-level CIA officials told me that as the years passed and the ransom never came, it became more and more difficult for either government to admit that it knew from the start about the unacknowledged prisoners. Those prisoners had not only become useless as bargaining chips but also posed a risk to Hanoi’s desire to be accepted into the international community. The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men—those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture—were eventually executed.
    My own research, detailed below, has convinced me that it is not likely that more than a few—if any—are alive in captivity today. (That CIA briefing at the Agency’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters was conducted “off the record,” but because the evidence from my own reporting since then has brought me to the same conclusion, I felt there was no longer any point in not writing about the meeting.)
    For many reasons, including the absence of a political constituency for the missing men other than their families and some veterans’ groups, very few Americans are aware of the POW story and of McCain’s role in keeping it out of public view and denying the existence of abandoned POWs. That is because McCain has hardly been alone in his campaign to hide the scandal.
    The Arizona senator, now the Republican candidate for president, has actually been following the lead of every White House since Richard Nixon’s, and thus of every CIA director, Pentagon chief, and national security adviser, not to mention Dick Cheney, who was George H.W. Bush’s Defense secretary. Their biggest accomplice has been an indolent press, particularly in Washington.

  5. Bill: Tell us more about McCain in Nam. Throw us some sources. I always wondered about his time spent in prison there and whether he is somehow a delusional person.

  6. As a traitor during the Vietnam War –McCain gave away U.S. military secrets to N. Vietnam. in exchange for easy treatment and early release.
    Thus he’s in no position to cause our intelligence services to inform the public about what he did.

    He is certainly a dishonorable man who dumped his wife for a rich beer magnate’s daughter, after having dumped on his country.

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