Sen. Kit Bond tells Newsmax that the Democrats' call for an investigation into plans to take out al-Qaida leaders with CIA hit teams is an effort to divert attention from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's troubles.
The Missouri Republican also said that to go forward with a probe of people involved in enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush administration would be a "big mistake."
Bond, who was first elected in 1986, is a former governor of Missouri and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella noted that Democrats in Congress are calling for an investigation into whether they were properly briefed about plans to assassinate al-Qaida fighters with special operations forces on the ground — a plan that was recently nixed by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Pelosi, who has caught heat for claiming that she was lied to by the CIA about interrogation techniques used on terrorist detainees, is among those urging a probe.
Bond pointed out the connection: "The Democrats have been trying to get Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the ditch that she got herself into when she said the Congress was regularly misled and lied to by the CIA.
"If they're going to go back and ask to investigate why the CIA was trying to take out al-Qaida, to capture or kill its leaders, you want to wonder whose side are they on.
"Isn't that what the CIA is supposed to do? Isn't that what they were told to do?
"I asked the director who canceled the program, was it illegal? No. Was there anything wrong with it, anything out of the ordinary about it? No. My question to him was, why would you not try to use some kind of techniques to capture or kill the leaders of al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations. No answer to that."
Regarding the use of drones to take out al-Qaida fighters from the air, Bond said: "I don't think there's been any objection to the military strikes that have taken out al-Qaida or Taliban leaders."
Martella asked if there is a difference between killing al-Qaida fighters with CIA hit squads and using drones.
The only difference, Bond said, is "if you kill them at 50,000 feet there's more likely to be collateral damage on innocent civilians. But if you take them out first hand, then the collateral damage is very limited or totally eliminated."
As for Pelosi's charge that she was lied to or misled by members of the intelligence community, the Intelligence Committee chairman said: "Never have they been untruthful in dealing with me. I've criticized them before, but certainly they have never lied to me or misled me in the experience I've had with them — nor do I know of any other instance when they have misled members of Congress."
Martella cited reports that Attorney General Eric Holder is leaning toward appointing a special prosecutor to investigate people involved in enhanced interrogations of detainees while Bush was in the White House.
"I had a good discussion with [Holder] before I supported his nomination, and at the time I supported him because he said he had no intention of going back and launching a full-scale investigation," Bond said.
"Now if it turns out that we in our committee find that some rogue CIA agent committed abuses like Abu Ghraib, then at that point maybe some action should be taken.
"But to go back and have a prosecutorial review, when we have already gone through the battles and determined what the president ordered and what was lawful under the Department of Justice's interpretations, I think would be a big mistake.
"It would not only harm our intelligence agency, but I think it would [lead to] an almost unbearable political division in a place which is already too polarized and needs to work together."
Bond has been a strong supporter of the Peace Corps and an advocate for the peaceful role of Americans in the world.
"If we're going to win, and make sure we don't face growing insurgencies, we've got to do a lot more to work with people in those countries where we may have some problems now," he explained.
"I'm preparing a book, with a co-author, called 'The Next Front' — how to deal with global Islam, beginning in Southeast Asia.
"We talk about smart power, including the Peace Corps, education and direct investment by American firms overseas, opening trade between them to offer them a better life, sharing technology, making them good economic partners, good trade partners, as well as security partners."
Bond also told Newsmax that the cap-and-trade plan to reduce carbon emissions would place a "terrible burden" on the American economy, and warned that healthcare reform that includes a public insurance plan would lead to the death of the private insurance industry "within 11 months."
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