For reasons that have never been clear, House Republican leaders gave Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, affording the right-wing lawmaker access to some of the nation’s most sensitive national security information, and giving the congresswoman an opportunity to ask questions of the intelligence community.
Occasionally, that’s not a good idea.
Late last week, Bachmann asked CIA Director John Brennan questions that left him visibly confused. As part of a line of inquiry that apparently related to Benghazi, the Minnesota Republican asked about armed drone strikes in Libya before last September.
“Armed drone strikes in Libya?” Brennan replied, clearly baffled. “I’m unknowing of such.”
Bachmann pressed further, asking whether the White House might have made armed drone strikes. The CIA director patiently tried to explain, “The White House doesn’t have a drone capability.” When Bachmann asked again, Brennan said, “Again, I don’t know what it is, specifically, you’re referring to.”
Bachmann then moved on to Iran, asking for some fairly sensitive information, which was problematic given that the hearing was being aired live on C-SPAN. Eventually, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told her, “I think this subject [would be] much better talked about in closed session.”
The exchanges were immediately reminiscent of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pressing then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for information on some kind of mysterious ghost ship that secretly transferred weapons to Turkey out of Libya with the CIA’s blessing. It was left to a puzzled Clinton to subtly suggest the strange senator had no idea what he was talking about.
There is a moral to the story. It’s unfortunate that ridiculous candidates will be elected to Congress, but to give these lawmakers seats on the intelligence committees is never a good idea.