McCain Condemns CIA for Hiding Levinson Details from Congress
Somebody's on a roll. A day after Sen. John McCain joined anti-government rallies in Ukraine, the senator called out the CIA for not been forthcoming with the Congress about the details of Robert Levinson, an American kidnapped in Iran in 2007, who, until recently, was believed to be a private citizen. Last Thursday, though, the AP revealed that the American was in fact on a rogue secret intelligence mission to Iran.
In a rare display of common sense, McCain told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that, while he's confident that country is doing what it can, the fact that the CIA didn't inform Congress of the situation is upsetting — surprisingly, he also suggested that there should maybe be more Congressional oversight.
"What disturbs me is apparently they did not tell the truth to the Congress. The CIA did not tell the truth to the American Congress about Mr. Levinson," McCain said." "If that's true, then you put this on top of things that our intelligence committees didn't know about other activities, which have been revealed by Snowden — maybe it means that we should be examining the oversight role of Congress over our different intelligence agencies."
Secretary of State John Kerry, for his part, emphasized how hard the U.S. is working to find Levinson, brushing aside suggestions made by Levinson's family that the operative had somehow been forgotten.
"There hasn't been progress in the sense that we don't have him back. But to suggest that we have abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect ... and not helpful," Kerry told ABC's This Week. "The fact is I have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level ... but also through other intermediaries. So we don't have any meeting with anybody who has something to do with Iran or an approach to Iran where we don't talk to them about how we might be able to find not just Levinson, but we have two other Americans that we're deeply concerned about."
Iran's response? According to their foreign minister, Levinson is "not incarcerated by the government ... the government runs, pretty much, good control of the country." Er...ok.
Since 2007, the official story has been that Levinson was a private businessman on a trip to Iran who'd been kidnapped for reasons unknown. Although soon after his disappearance, Congress asked the CIA whether Levinson had been working for them, the agency denied involvement, formally telling Congress that Levinson hadn’t been doing intelligence work. On Thursday, though, after a years-long investigation, the AP revealed that Levinson was actually working for a rogue CIA faction in an effort to gather intel on Iran’s nuclear program. Worse, the CIA reportedly gave Levinson’s family $2.5 million to keep quiet about his involvement. Thanks to Levinson's lawyer — who discovered emails in which Levinson told a CIA friend about what he was working on, and then sent them to the Senate Intelligence Committee — an internal CIA investigation began that ended up with three of the CIA analysts running the unauthorized mission being fired, and seven others being disciplined.