Director Porter Goss said Thursday that the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects had undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering abilities.However:
"The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission," Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empaneled to determine "who is leaking this information."
His testimony came after National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who directs all intelligence activities, strongly defended the program, calling it crucial for protecting the nation against its most menacing threat.
"This was not about domestic surveillance," Negroponte said.
"The president has not only confirmed the existence of the program, he has spoken at length about it repeatedly," while keeping Congress in the dark, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel's senior Democrat.Especially, apparently, the illegal ones.
"The administration wants to have it both ways," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
[Goss] said not only have these revelations made it harder for the CIA to gather information, but they have made intelligence agencies in other countries mistrustful of their U.S. counterparts.
"I'm stunned to the quick when I get questions from my professional counterparts saying, `Mr. Goss, can't you Americans keep a secret?'" he said.
Goss cited a "disruption to our plans, things that we have under way." Some CIA sources and "assets" had been rendered "no longer viable or usable, or less effective by a large degree," he said.After all, that's what government of the people, by the people, and for the people is all about: violating the Constitution and the laws of the country in secret.
"I also believe that there has been an erosion of the culture of secrecy and we're trying to reinstall that," Goss said.
"I've called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information," he said.Maybe somebody needs to tell Director Goss that grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret. Or would that just confuse him?
Rockefeller suggested that the "leaks" Goss talked about most likely "came from the executive branch" of the government.You can't make this stuff up.
That brought a terse response from FBI Director Robert Mueller, who said, "It's not fair to point a finger as to the responsibility of the leak."