Jim Jordan’s ‘Weaponization Committee’ Is Misfiring

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Jordan’s panel has barely begun its work, but early indications suggest it will regurgitate a variety of right-wing conspiracy theories, some of them so convoluted that one would have to binge Fox News to make sense of them. Did the FBI strong-arm Twitter and Facebook into suppressing a news story about Hunter Biden’s laptop? Did the FBI surveil and intimidate conservative parent activists at local PTA meetings? Did Hillary Clinton collude with Russia in 2016 to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign? (If that last one doesn’t make sense, that’s because it doesn’t.)

Charles Grassley, the Iowa senator who testified before Jordan’s committee, gave the game away when he delivered a rambling statement focused on the purported criminality of Joe Biden’s family, something he claims is straight out of a “fiction spy thriller.” “This story of government abuse and political treachery is scarier than fiction,” Grassley offered. “It really happened. Help us write the last chapter in this real-life drama. You must relentlessly produce the facts and the evidence.”

Compared to the Church Committee, which investigated on a bipartisan basis crimes committed by intelligence agencies under both Republican and Democratic presidents, the Jordan Committee seems to have one objective: Get Democrats.

To understand just how different this panel is from the one it purports to model, it’s worth reviewing the history.

Watergate came as a shock to most Americans, including members of Congress, because it exposed shocking criminality on the part of high-ranking government officials. Not just the Watergate break-in itself, or Nixon’s efforts to conceal it, but far-reaching abuses by the CIA, FBI, IRS and other agencies against American civilians. Even members of Congress, from both parties, were slack-jawed. Since the advent of the modern security state in the early years of the Cold War, congressional oversight of domestic and foreign intelligence agencies had been de minimis. Most legislators seemed to agree with Sen. Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, who in 1956 confessed that he was disinclined to “obtain information which I personally would rather not have, unless it was essential for me as a member of Congress to have it.”

In the wake of Nixon’s resignation, the Senate empaneled the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Sen. Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho. What the committee learned was astounding.

There was the criminality within the Nixon White House, of course. The committee laid bare a plan that Tom Huston, a young administration official, hatched to spy on and sabotage civil rights and anti-war protesters. In contrite testimony before the panel, Huston acknowledged that while the plan was inspired by legitimate concerns over radical violence, it posed a slippery slope from targeting “the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with a picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.”

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( With inputs from : )

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