A new sheriff in town

Congress can use oversight authority to expose corruption. But it can also pressure agencies to stop stonewalling corruption investigations by the Justice Department.

It’s not surprising that the CIA has been stonewalling the Justice Department on the Dusty Foggo offshoot of the Cunningham/MZM scandal. (That’s the one featuring senior CIA officials and Republican Congressional staffers sharing poker and prostitutes at the Watergate with lobbyists and contractors.) A public “Hookergate” trial could only be a PR disaster for the Agency.

But at some point the abuse of the classification system to cover up criminal wrongdoing becomes itself criminal. The new Democratic leadership of the Intelligence committees and the relevant Appropriations subcommittees ought to have some heart-to-heart talks with Michael Hayden, who in turn needs to send the right signals down the CIA chain of command.

Lots has been written about the use of Congressional oversight to uncover Executive Branch corruption and malfeasance, and I’m all for it. But the Congress also has considerable capacity to force the rest of the Executive Branch to cooperate with investigators at the Justice Department. The message needs to go out now: stonewalling is sooooooooo 2006.

And of course when the relevant documents are in the hands of the Congress, the problem ought to be easy.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com