Today, we’re broadcasting from the Hart Senate Office building —-
Hearing Room 216 to be precise -— where nominee Anthony Lake is
expected to face more sharp questioning from some Republican
opponents on the committee, notably Chairman Richard Shelby, a
Republican from Alabama.
These hearings come at a crucial time for the country’s
intelligence agencies and for the Clinton administration. The
estimated $30 billion intelligence budget is already $10 billion
higher than all other U.S. foreign relations programs combined, and
spies outnumber diplomats in some US embassies. And as director of
Central Intelligence, Lake would be in charge of the entire
intelligence establishment, including the CIA, and the National
Security Agency which, in fact, is larger than the CIA.
Despite the huge financial support for intelligence programs in
Congress, the intelligence establishment faces deep problems. The
CIA has been rocked by spy scandals — notably the case of Aldrich
Ames who was convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union and
Russia — as well as by questions about the relevance of a huge
intelligence bureaucracy in the post-Cold War period.
Just as important, the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency have
been stung by repeated revelations of their role in organizing and
supporting narcotics trafficking, anti-democratic and repressive
military regimes, and death squads in Guatemala and Haiti.
But Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who leads the
Intelligence Committee, and his Senate counterparts will probably
not raise the issue of CIA human rights abuses. Instead, Shelby is
expected to focus on Lake’s alleged ethics violations, including
Lake’s failure to sell his personal stock holdings in Exxon, Mobil
and other energy companies despite White House officials telling
him to. The Committee is also expected in the days ahead to examine
some of the major areas of the Clinton foreign policy that were
under Lake’s control as National Security Advisor the past four
years. These include what Lake knew about Chinese missile sales to
Pakistan; his failure to tell Congress about President Clinton’s
tacit approval of Iran’s arms shipments to Bosnia’s Muslims in
1994, and whether Lake played down alleged political murders in
Haiti under the government the White House helped install in 1994.
Lake also is coming under fire over his role in the campaign
finance scandals now rocking the White House. Chair Richard Shelby
brought up the issue yesterday of Lake’s knowledge of an FBI
briefing to his senior staffers about an alleged Chinese government
plan to influence Congressional races by funneling money to
TAPE: RICHARD SHELBY, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence
CO-HOST: LOU WOLF, the editor of Covert Action Quarterly.
JACOB HEILBRUNN, a journalist who profiled Anthony Lake in
the March 24 issue of The New Republic.
KEN SILVERSTEIN, he is co-editor of the Washington DC-based
newsletter, Counterpunch and the author of a recent article in The
Nation magazine called, "The New China Hands: How the Fortune 500 is
China’s Strongest Lobby."