Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will incompetence get one fired?

That's the question I am asking myself after this unbelievably stupid mistake by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein:

Dianne Feinstein [...] recently stated that U.S. Predator hunter/killer drones "are flown out of a Pakistani base." The launch location is supposed to be a secret.

Feinstein's statement was front-page news in Pakistan. The government quickly denied that the Predators are based in Pakistan, but it's not likely that this self-serving denial trumped Feinstein's admission against her country's interest (not to mention Pakistan's).

Feinstein has thus helped undermine faith in America's ability to keep a secret. And that abililty can be central to securing the cooperation of governments in the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia in combatting extremist factions that enjoy a degree of public support or sympathy.

Many, including some conservatives, say that President Bush should have involved Congress more deeply in the secret intelligence initiatives that followed 9/11. Perhaps. But Sen. Feinstein's loose lips illustrate one very real disadvantage of congressional involvement.

She should be stripped of her committee chairmanship at the very least, and probably her membership. Such irresponsibility cannot be tolerated even in times of peace, much less in the middle of an existential struggle.

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