Tags: Sen. | Torricelli | Played | Key | Role | Closing | Down

Sen. Torricelli Played Key Role in Closing Down CIA Ops

Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM

Current and former CIA operatives say that Clinton administration policies, which forbade the CIA from recruiting known terrorists and other criminals, left the U.S. government bereft of all intelligence about such terrorist groups.

In 1995, then-Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., made secrets public at the behest of left-wing activist Bianca Jagger, his girlfriend at the time, according to Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine in the January/February issue of Heterodoxy.

The secrets suggested that the CIA had on its payroll one or more unsavory characters who had been involved in murder.

Torricelli gave away secrets he obtained through his membership on the House Intelligence Committee.

This so outraged then-Speaker Newt Gingrich that he tried to have the New Jersey Democrat kicked off the panel.

Later, Torricelli was criticized in a committee report for having compromised American intelligence-gathering abilities around the world, adding that numerous CIA sources had decided to stop giving information for fear they would be outed by a congressman.

At the time, Torricelli's activities and leaks against the CIA garnered a large amount of press attention.

Mulshine’s article showed how Torricelli’s action in giving away the name of a CIA source in Guatemala was based not on fact, but on a conspiracy theory of "the loony left,” as Heterodoxy later characterized it.

The lawmaker was accused of having leaped to a number of inaccurate conclusions about the CIA’s role in the deaths of an American hotel owner named Michael DeVine and a Guatemalan guerilla named Efrain Bamaca Velazquez.

In its 1997 report, the House Intelligence Committee had this to say about the antics of Torricelli, by then a senator:

"None of the allegations raised by Rep. Torricelli in the March 22, 1995 letter to the president [Clinton] or subsequent public statements concerning the involvement of the CIA in the DeVine and Bamaca deaths in Guatemala have proved true.”

Still, Torricelli efforts paid off with the Clinton administration, which moved to ban the use of spies or the recruitment of spies that had any involvement with criminals or terrorists.

Torricelli effectively blinded the CIA.

It was about the time of this well-publicized incident that the CIA’s slide into a deteriorated human intelligence capability accelerated.

As a former CIA spy in the Mideast told NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy, Bill Clinton simply changed the rules of how spies are recruited. A

And it was done in such a way as to make it impossible to recruit effective human spies. The agency, then under Director John Deutch and his top assistant Nora Slatkin, implemented a "human rights scrub” policy.

Or as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham has noted since Tuesday’s attacks, effective human spies "are not found in monasteries.”

Torricelli did not respond to repeated efforts by NewsMax.com to get his comment for this article.

But he turned up Monday night on Fox News Channel’s "The O’Reilly Factor” to defend himself. O’Reilly accused him of "tying the CIA’s hands,” although he did not let Clinton or then-CIA Director John Deutch, off the hook.

Torricelli said the CIA could hire anyone it wanted to spy for the U.S. - as long as the station chiefs get permission from Washington.

That set O’Reilly off. The popular TV host said the CIA agents had no confidence in Deutch - "They hated him” - and they didn’t want to bother that "extra layer of bureaucracy” in Washington, "where they’re out to lunch half the day anyway.”

"You don’t know that, and I don’t know that,” Torricelli shot back. "But the point is, on the principle, the agency’s hands are not tied. They can hire anybody they want. They’ve got to get permission.”

"Here’s the deal,” retorted O’Reilly. "The terrorists can blow up the World Trade Center. They don’t have to get anybody’s permission, all right? They can just do it. But if we want to hire somebody as a quick tip that that may be coming down, you can’t do that without permission from some pinhead in Washington.”

"I’m not sure the terrorists should set the standard we want to follow,” the New Jersey Democrat countered.

"We’re just defending ourselves!” exclaimed the television journalist.

Torricelli ended up blaming the CIA, saying they "had the authority to do it under law. They just didn’t do it.”

O’Reilly said the station chiefs and field agents believed that Deutch "didn’t know his butt from his elbow.” He added that Torricelli had caused another layer of bureaucracy to be created "within an agency that needs to be nimble and brutal.”

O’Reilly did not bring up Bianca Jagger.

Like Ruddy, O’Reilly has been talking to former CIA operatives whose opinion of Deutch is universally low.

Torricelli has been in the news recently because of a federal investigation into

The Nicaraguan-born Jagger, ex-wife of Rolling Stones rock star Mick Jagger, has appeared on Fox News Channel and other media outlets to promote environmental and other leftist causes and rail against America's use of the death penalty. She has also been romantically linked to Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

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Current and former CIA operatives say that Clinton administration policies, which forbade the CIA from recruiting known terrorists and other criminals, left the U.S. government bereft of all intelligence about such terrorist groups. In 1995, then-Rep. Robert Torricelli,...
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Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM
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