During Friday's session of the Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing in which the heads of CIA, FBI and Homeland Security were questioned along with General Michael Hayden of NSA, I was struck by one question I had not expected.
Senator Diane Feinstein was questioning Director Negroponte, head of Homeland Security, in a way that must have startled him. She was not putting up with the normal chit chat offered by these people in the administration as they deflect serious questions with evasive, wordy non-responsive answers. At least twice, she was impatient and interrupted as soon as she could, saying directly: Would you just answer my question.
What did she ask that was surprising? See below and tell us why she asked it.
UPDATE: Another interesting question remembered.
I hadn't seen so much backbone in a Senator in a hearing for a long time. It used to be that this was typical behavior as congresspeople at hearings would demand
answers that were responsive. Then came the era of feckless hearings where no one says much of anything and congresspeople simply make dull speeches. When they received no answers they would say thanks and that was that. So to see her stand up to these directors was very refreshing. If ever we needed that kind of spine it is now.
Senator Feinstein asked questions before I tuned in to the hearings, but one I heard one was this, as near as I recall it:
"Was anyone killed during (or as the result of) an investigation coming from one of these wiretaps?"
Where did this question come from?
Was this a fishing expedition on her part?
Was it one of a series of questions the Democrats had decided to ask prior to their meeting with Gonzales? (As they might in a deposition where they were seeking to gain information prior to the real trial.)
Or, and this is pure speculation, had she heard something?
Perhaps it is useless or worse to speculate about this but being a mystery lover I can't stop thinking about it and wondered if someone knew something about it. I wondered if it could be that a death coming from an illegal wiretap would compound the offense in some way beyond the obvious.
Oh, and BTW, the responses were, "No, not that I am aware of." To me it seemed they were shocked to be asked the question. It was odd. I'd be interested in other peopls's interpretation.
Then there is this: She also questioned them about the kind of chain of connections with various people a wiretap can create.
Feinstein asked: (paraphrased) "If you thought, for instance, that I was in contact with Al Queda, and you listened to my calls, would you then listen to the people I called, and would you then listen to the people they called?"
Did they answer that they would deal with that in closed session? I can't remember for sure. I was more surprised by the question which was an eye-popper as far as I was concerned. The implications are mind-boggling, but the question makes a lot of sense.