The House Judiciary Committee hearing can be viewed here.
Eleven or twelve members attended the House Judiciary Committee’s FBI oversight hearing today. Repeatedly, they expressed disappointment with the FBI’s continuing failure to answer their questions, and to respond to written questions. Director Mueller only produced a written response to the Committee’s September 5, 2008 letter last night, and copies were not made available to the audience. His verbal testimony had nothing to do with their questions: instead it was an exercise in cheerleading for the FBI team and proposed new guidelines, which would expand FBI authority. Oh, and by the way: Mueller abhors leaks.
Mueller spoke in generalities, failing to answer specific questions. Rep. Delahunt suggested that the FBI’s lack of transparency skirted our system of checks and balances and placed our democracy at risk. Mueller could only reply, repeatedly, that he was happy to sit down “informally” with members, but essentially refused to answer their questions on the record.
Only Rep. Nadler asked about anthrax (details from Glenn Greenwald), and to his credit inquired pointedly about the Silicon signature and weaponization. Mueller had no answers.
Instead, responding to Nadler’s question of whether the FBI would cooperate with an independent investigation, Mueller attempted to confuse the issue of an independent investigation, saying FBI was requesting this from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). However, the NAS will only be asked to review FBI’s “microbial forensic” science. (FBI’s M.O. is to keep trotting out the genomics, no matter what question is asked.) And NAS didn’t even know they were going to get this gig until today’s hearing, suggesting NAS’ study might just be a bone thrown to the committee to head off a truly independent investigation of the letters case.
FBI’s science takes us to a flask, and stops there. I have no bone to pick with FBI’s science, although many details have yet to be revealed.
It’s FBI’s investigation that is unsatisfactory in every way, requiring an independent appraisal. Don’t be fooled by an expensive and time-consuming NAS smokescreen.