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A meeting of the House Intelligence Committee abruptly terminated this morning when Justice Department officials called to testify about their review of an internal CIA report on the 2001 shootdown of a plane over Peru that was carrying American missionaries refused to take the oath. Two innocent persons died due to a mistake confusing their plane with one being used to transport drugs. The Associated Press reports Justice’s meager effort at cover:
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Justice employees “have previously briefed committee staff on this matter and were prepared to provide a similar informal briefing to committee members. We are unaware of any precedent for Department officials providing informal briefings to be placed under oath,” she said.
The issue of administering the oath to Justice Department spokesmen became more acute after a parade of high-level Justice Department officials appeared before Congressional committees in 2007-08 and gave false testimony concerning the politicization of the department, particularly in connection with the U.S. attorneys scandal.
Ranking Republican Pete Hoekstra has raised questions for some time about the CIA’s handling of the Peru incident. Hoekstra says that CIA report, which remains classified, identifies agents who misled Congress and obstructed a Justice Department investigation into criminal charges. In 2005, the Justice Department decided against any criminal action, but its explanations for the decision have not satisfied many observers.
So far, Justice has failed to bring a single prosecution in any of the cases in which its representatives misled Congress. In one case, involving former Civil Rights Division head Brad Schlozman, the decision not to prosecute came notwithstanding conclusions that Schlozman’s false statements were material and were not a matter of innocent forgetfulness. The refusal of Justice officials today to testify under oath before the Intelligence Committee will only serve to highlight the department’s on-going problems with telling the truth before oversight bodies.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Number of Supreme Court justices in 1984 who voted against legalizing the recording of TV broadcasts by VCR:
A Spanish design student created a speech-recognition pillow into which the restive confide their worries, which are then printed out in the morning.
Greece evacuated 72,000 people from the town of Thessaloniki while an undetonated World War II–era bomb was excavated from beneath a gas station.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."