Letters to the Editor

William E. Jackson Jr.: Under Burr’s watch

Regarding the Nov. 13 editorial “Burr’s locked report”: Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has succeeded in locking up, unread, in government vaults across Washington , from the Justice Department to the Pentagon, the full U.S. Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention, interrogation and torture program.

Current national security officials are not free to read about the “enhanced interrogation techniques” – including waterboarding – that were far more brutal than the CIA has acknowledged.

What is never admitted is that, as a member of the intelligence oversight committee, for a decade Burr had to be aware of interrogation techniques by CIA employees that was beyond the reach of American law in secret prisons abroad.

In the aftermath of the killings in Paris, we now have CIA Director John Brennan denouncing – “in unusually raw language” – leaks over NSA spying that, allegedly, have made it more difficult to identify “murderous sociopaths.”

Of course, Burr has often endorsed intrusive government surveillance of American citizens without recourse to warrants. Given the overall record of Brennan and Burr, – a Washington mutual admiration society that transcends the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches – I submit that it is but a short step before they re-open the debate over blanket electronic spying when captured.

After all, some of the CIA employees who led the torture program are still on board. In moments of fear, it is in the nature of spy agencies to overreach for unjustified authorities in the name of security. Everything has not changed. The U.S. Constitution is still in force.

William E. Jackson Jr.


The writer is a former congressional staff member who assisted in drafting the original Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980.