CIA director Porter Goss testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning that leaks about the NSA’s international terrorist surveillance program and other intelligence activities have severely damaged America’s security:
“The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission,” Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empaneled to determine “who is leaking this information.”
“I use the words `very severe’ intentionally. And I think the evidence will show that,” Goss said.
He said not only have these revelations made it harder for the CIA to gather information, but they have made intelligence agencies in other countries mistrustful of their U.S. counterparts.
“I’m stunned to the quick when I get questions from my professional counterparts saying, `Mr. Goss, can’t you Americans keep a secret?'” he said.
Goss cited a “disruption to our plans, things that we have under way.” Some CIA sources and “assets” had been rendered “no longer viable or usable, or less effective by a large degree,” he said.
“I also believe that there has been an erosion of the culture of secrecy and we’re trying to reinstall that,” Goss said.
“I’ve called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information,” he said.
The Democrats spluttered:
“The president has not only confirmed the existence of the program, he has spoken at length about it repeatedly,” while keeping Congress in the dark, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel’s senior Democrat.”
Rockefeller suggested that the “leaks” Goss talked about most likely “came from the executive branch” of the government.
I don’t really understand Rockefeller’s comment. The CIA and NSA are part of the executive branch, aren’t they? I’m not aware of any suggestion that the leaks have been coming from Congressional staffers.
In any event, let’s get going on that grand jury investigation.
SCOTT adds: It is certainly possible that Senator Rockefeller or other Congressmen briefed by the administration on the NSA surveillance program were among the “nearly a dozen current and former government officials” who were the sources for the Times’s December 16 story. Doesn’t this possibility account for Rockefeller’s spluttering?
UPDATE: I still haven’t seen a transcript of Goss’s testimony, but, contrary to the manner in which this story has generally been reported, the New York Post says:
Goss, when pressed, said he was speaking of programs run by the CIA, and would let NSA officials speak for themselves.
Which would mean that the “severe damage” relates to exposure of secret detention facilities in Europe and other CIA-related leaks.