By Reid Wilson - 07/09/09 10:16 AM EDT
Seven Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have called on CIA Director Leon Panetta to publicly admit his agency misled Congress, following closed-door testimony in which Panetta privately told the panel it had been steered wrong.
“Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week,” committee members wrote. “This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.”
The letter, signed by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Tierney (D-Mass.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), does not specify what members were misled about. A separate letter from Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the committee chairman, also accused the agency of lying.
Reyes sent his letter to the top Republican on the select committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), an outspoken defender of the agency who spent weeks hammering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) when she said the agency had misled her.
The accusations are flying the same day Reyes is set to bring the Intelligence Authorization Act to the House floor, a bill President Obama threatened to veto on Wednesday.
The bill, the White House said, "would impede the smooth and efficient functioning of the [intelligence community]," according to a statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The administration is specifically concerned about a section of the bill that would restructure the current model for briefing congressional leaders.
At the moment, leaders of both parties and the top Democrat and Republican on both the House and Senate intelligence committees — the so-called "Gang of 8" — are briefed on sensitive matters. The bill would give Congress the authority to decide who is briefed on sensitive information, not the White House.
If the bill reaches Obama’s desk as written, his advisers would recommend a veto, according to the OMB statement.