Max Boot: Congress should censure Nunes. Just like McCarthy.

Historians in the News
tags: Joseph McCarthy, Devin Nunes



Max Boot, a Post columnist, is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.” Follow @MaxBoot

The last time a member of Congress made a reckless and baseless attack on a revered pillar of America’s security, it did not end well for him. Sen. Joseph McCarthy got away with smearing the State Department, which has never received the popular esteem it deserves, but when he took on the U.S. Army, accusing it of harboring a subversive dentist (really!), he went too far. 

During the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, Army counsel Joseph Welch delivered his famous rebuke — “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? ” — and that was it. McCarthy was censured by the Senate and stripped of his committee chairmanship. 

Let us stipulate that Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is not exactly the second coming of “Tail Gunner Joe ”: that dubious honor more properly belongs to the conspirator in chief, President Trump. But for his deceptive, demoralizing and dangerous assault on the FBI — an institution that, like the Army, is dedicated to defending America — Nunes, too, deserves to be censured by his colleagues and stripped of his chairmanship.

Nunes began his reign of error nearly a year ago. Last March 22, he breathlessly announced he had uncovered evidence that the intelligence community — presumably the FBI or the National Security Agency — had improperly monitored and unmasked “Trump transition team members.” Then he rushed off to the White House to brief the president on his “findings.”

It was all a sham. Nunes was simply covering for Trump after the president claimed that President Barack “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower.” When no evidence of wiretapping emerged, Nunes tried to morph the accusation into a claim that Obama national security adviser Susan E. Rice illegally “unmasked” Trump aides in surveillance transcripts. This, too, was false. Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, concluded that Rice “did nothing wrong.” ... 

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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