A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation

A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation

A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation

A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation

Excerpt

This is a book about the United States Senate. Its purpose is to provide the citizen with a look at how this institution works (or sometimes fails to work)-- not in its ordinary, day-to-day business of helping constituents, debating policy, and passing bills, but rather in the extraordinary conduct of a major investigation.

The focus for the study is the 1975 Senate probe into alleged abuses of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and several other federal agencies known collectively as the "intelligence community." This investigation lasted sixteen months. Hundreds of witnesses were cross-examined; thousands of pages of sworn testimony were gathered; several volumes of reports were published; and ninety-six proposals for reform were recommended.

The Senate inquiry (and companion investigations by the House of Representatives and a presidential commission) rocked the intelligence bureaucracy like nothing before, paling even the humiliating defeat suffered by the CIA during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. Its leaders spoke darkly of a struggle for survival, and warred among themselves (and with the White House) over appropriate tactics of self-defense.

As events unfolded and the White House realized it faced a serious investigation, the bounds of comity between the presidency and Congress-- always strained--grew steadily more taut, soon frayed, and threatened to snap. In Congress itself, disagreements over how to proceed led to a deep schism in the Senate investigating committee, and sent the full House of Representatives into a tailspin of acrimony and self-recrimination. With these institutional conflicts came the further complication of personal ambition, as individuals involved in the investigations positioned themselves for the 1976 presidential sweepstakes, or otherwise moved to advance their careers and reputations.

The story in these pages is about rulers at work. It examines the tangled lines of conflict and cooperation that stretch between the executive branch and Congress. It underscores how jealousy, friendship, suspicion, pique, ambition, fatigue, and other human traits intervene in the affairs of man to alter the anticipated course of events. It shows the difficulty of achieving any change whatsoever in a government where power is fragmented among a large number of people within the executive branch, the Senate, and the House; where . . .

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