It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed
objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.
There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human
conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, long-standing
American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered.
Though these words echo his famous endorsement of working "the dark
side" in order to triumph in the "war on terror," they were not, in
fact, written by Dick Cheney. They come from the Doolittle Report, which
was commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954 to craft an
intelligence strategy for winning the cold war. From a strategic
perspective, the threat posed by global communism, headquartered in a
massive, nuclear-armed superpower with almost 6 million men under arms,
and Al Qaeda, a networked, globally distributed group of thousands of
nonstate actors, could not be more different. But the national security
state's understanding of each as an existential threat was, and
continues to be, nearly identical. The enemy is ingenious, relentless
and unencumbered by the procedural and moral niceties that hamstring the
bureaucrats of a liberal democracy. Victory--indeed, survival--requires
us to become more like them.
And so: the CIA contracted a Mafia boss to murder Fidel Castro, sent
biotoxins to the Republic of Congo with orders to poison Patrice Lumumba
and tested LSD on unsuspecting citizens (one of whom jumped out of a
window to his death). It fomented coups and bloodshed against
democratically elected governments, while the National Security Agency,
in coordination with the major telegram companies, read every single
telegram coming in or going out of the country for three decades. The
FBI infiltrated peaceful antiwar groups, breaking up marriages of
activists with forged evidence of infidelity, while surveilling civil
rights leaders with an assortment of bugs and break-ins. It even
attempted to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr. into committing suicide,
shipping him tapes of him midcoitus with a mistress and a note that
said, "There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your
filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation."
We know all this (and much more) thanks to the work of the Church
Committee. Chaired by Idaho Senator Frank Church in 1975-76, the Select
Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence
Activities labored for sixteen months to produce a 5,000-page report
that is a canonical history of the secret government. Over the past
three decades the Church Committee has faded into relative obscurity. (I
was somewhat surprised to discover how few people my age had heard of
it.) But in the wake of further disclosures of crimes and abuses
committed by the Bush administration and the escalating war of words
between the CIA and Congress over just how much Congress knew about (and
approved) these activities, the specter of the committee has begun to
haunt Capitol Hill.
Mostly, the Church Committee is invoked by conservatives as a cautionary
tale, a case of liberal overreach that handicapped the nation's
intelligence operations for decades. Dick Cheney bemoaned the fact that
his time as President Ford's chief of staff was "the low point" of
presidential authority, thanks to a feckless Congress "all too often
swayed by the public opinion of the moment."
But a growing chorus of voices, some of whom served on the original
committee and some of whom currently occupy oversight positions in
Congress, have begun to refer to the Church Committee as a model for the
kind of sustained inquiry needed today. Congressman Rush Holt, a New
Jersey Democrat, has served on the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence since 2003. When I met him recently, his office had a table
full of books and papers about intelligence oversight and the Church
Committee's legacy. "The intelligence community has not undergone
comprehensive examination since then," he said, "and it needs it."
In a recent interview with the Washington Independent, former
Senator Gary Hart, who served on the Church Committee, said there are
"sufficient parallels" between the abuses of the cold war and those
revealed in the past few years to "warrant a kind of sweeping
investigation." Senators Pat Leahy and Russ Feingold have expressed
support for a commission of inquiry. Even former White House
counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who previously criticized the
post-Church intelligence community's risk-averse ways, is on board. "In
a democracy with Congressional oversight...when you've had this period
where there appears to have been excesses, [where] there appears to have
been illegality," he told me, "you need a comprehensive checkup."
The original Church Committee ushered in an era of reforms that we've
come to take for granted: the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts and executive orders banning
assassinations. But it's hard to survey the legal and moral wreckage of
the "war on terror" and conclude that those reforms have stood the test
of time. When the country faced another "implacable" enemy, the reforms
of the Church Committee were subverted, circumvented, rolled back and
To take just the most recent examples, press reports indicate that the
CIA may have been training agents to conduct assassinations of Al Qaeda
leaders during the first six months of the Obama administration, before
either CIA director Leon Panetta or Congress was notified. What's more,
according to reports in the New York Times and this magazine, the
CIA outsourced parts of an assassination program to the private security
firm Blackwater. As this article goes to press, Attorney General Eric
Holder has appointed a special prosecutor, John Durham, to determine if
a criminal investigation should go forward against CIA agents and
contractors for torturing detainees. Durham's narrowly defined inquiry
targets fewer than a dozen cases and falls far short of the "sweeping
investigation" called for by Hart, Clarke and others.
Once again, it seems a comprehensive accounting is long overdue.
On December 22, 1974, the New York Times published an explosive
front-page story by Seymour Hersh. Drawn from leaked portions of a
704-page internal CIA review of covert activities, known within the
agency as "the family jewels," the article detailed the activities of a
massive domestic spying program called Operation Chaos. "Huge CIA
Operation Reported Against Antiwar Forces and Other Dissidents During
the Nixon Years," read the headline.
The article created an uproar. In the wake of Watergate and the
revelations of Nixon's recklessly lawless executive branch, the public
was primed to think the worst. Church, a liberal, saw an opportunity to
ferret out abuses, rein in an out-of-control intelligence apparatus and
give himself a prime platform from which to run for president. He
advocated for a special committee to investigate the activities of the
various intelligence agencies. Senate Republicans objected, and the
White House sought to cut off momentum by establishing its own
commission of inquiry, chaired by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. But
the press didn't let up. Hersh published more startling revelations, and
CBS's Daniel Schorr began airing reports of the CIA's involvement in
international assassinations. For a nation that had suffered the
traumatic deaths of JFK, RFK and MLK in the past dozen years, this was
the last straw. "Murder," playwright Lillian Hellman wrote in a New
York Times op-ed. "We didn't think of ourselves that way once upon a
On January 27, 1975, the Senate voted to create the Select Committee to
Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities.
(The committee also had a House counterpart, chaired by Otis Pike.) Each
of its eleven members, six Democrats and five Republicans, appointed a
staff liaison. The committee was given broad latitude, subpoena power
and, crucially, a staff of 150. "We were in a huge auditorium in the new
Senate office building," recalls Barbara Banoff, who joined the staff of
the committee as a young attorney from New York. "They were just little
cubicles with office dividers; if somebody was yelling at one place in
the auditorium, everyone else could hear them."
The staff was impressive. Chief counsel Frederick "Fritz" A.O. Schwarz
was a top-flight litigator at a white-shoe New York firm. Other
positions were filled by career intelligence officers, attorneys and
academics. "I thought the committee was outstanding," says Loch Johnson,
who served as Church's special assistant on the committee and now edits
the journal Intelligence and National Security. "I was kind of
amazed by that.... Usually in committees you get a hodgepodge.... Look
at the résumés of the people: a lot of great attorneys and
social scientists with well-regarded credentials."
Immediately, Schwarz says, it became apparent that the magnitude of the
task before them was overwhelming. "We had to pick a few subjects and
look at the subjects in real depth because if we didn't do that...there
were so many things that were coming in as tips that we could never get
any of them well."
The committee broke its staff up into task forces, each focusing on a
discrete area, such as the CIA, assassinations and the FBI's domestic
spying. Sensing the particularly acute outrage over revelations of the
CIA's assassination plots, the committee worked hard to produce an
interim report on the matter, which it released on November 20, 1975. It
contained many of the more lurid examples of CIA high jinks--including
plans to kill Castro with poisoned cigars--that would come to define the
agency's image for an entire generation of Americans.
As the staff dug deeper, they came to realize that something was very
rotten indeed at the heart of the national security state. "I think we
were all shocked at the extent of the abuses of power by these
agencies," says Johnson. "We had, of course, read Sy Hersh's piece.
Cointelpro--that was not a part of Sy Hersh's article, and that was
simply shocking. Not only did it involve domestic surveillance but
domestic covert action. There were a number of things that were really
The committee's investigations had a radicalizing effect on even the top
staffers like Schwarz and minority counsel Curtis Smothers. "As they
were reading our reports," says Banoff, "we'd hear from Fritz, who had
just read some draft report on some particularly outrageous misdeed:
'Goddamn it!' And he'd pound the desk. And then from Curtis: 'Those
bastards!' Pound the desk. It was like a counterpuntal hymn."
Contrary to right-wing caricature, the committee was not staffed with
crusading liberals. Indeed, almost every former staff member I
interviewed made a point of emphasizing that the staff was not
particularly ideological and operated without fear or favor. "The best
thing they did," says Banoff, was "they didn't have separate majority
and minority staff. I never got asked what party I belonged to, at all.
That wasn't what Fritz was looking for. The staffs were integrated; we
all worked together. We really did. We didn't have any obstructionism
from a senator or a senator's designee."
Bill Bader, a former CIA analyst and naval intelligence officer chosen
to run the committee's CIA task force, doesn't quite agree. "John Tower
and Barry Goldwater [Republican senators on the committee] didn't think
there should be anything at all," says Bader. "That was their whole view
of the whole thing, and they made Church and [fellow committee member
Walter] Mondale's life kind of miserable." That said, at the staff level
Bader says his relationships inside the CIA helped a great deal. "But
most of the analytical world was very happy for me to have that role
because they knew me, because they knew I was fair, serious and I didn't
have an ax to grind."
Particularly crucial was the reluctant compliance of CIA director
William Colby. Colby's predecessor, Richard Helms, was of the old
school: blatantly contemptuous of oversight of any kind. According to
Bader, Helms felt that "this investigation was traitorous, pure and
simple; you don't do things like that." Colby, on the other hand, was
committed to reforming the agency and, some say, privately feared that
if he fought Congress, there was a possibility it would try to get rid
of the agency altogether.
Colby's attitude proved crucial to the committee's success. Though
endowed with subpoena power, it had no enforcement capability to compel
the Ford administration to turn over relevant documents, and at first
the administration stonewalled. But the Church Committee benefited
greatly from playing good cop to the House Pike Committee's bad cop,
which quickly became embroiled in an escalating series of showdowns over
testimony and disclosure, which Henry Kissinger also tried to stonewall.
The Church Committee emerged as a kind of middle path--the sober,
responsible investigators the administration could work with. "One of
the reasons that the Senate committee got along well [with the White
House]," says staff member Richard Betts, now a professor of political
science at Columbia University, "is because [White House officials] were
really pissed off at the Pike Committee, which they considered partisan
and more flaky."
Committee investigators ultimately read through thousands of previously
unreleased files. Without this access, the Church Committee couldn't
have exposed what it did. Which prompts the question: were Congress to
undertake a similar inquiry today, would the White House cooperate?
So far, the White House's record on disclosure has been disappointing.
With the notable and admirable exception of its decision to release the
Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel's (OLC) memos authorizing
torture, the Obama administration has largely continued to fight against
disclosure of everything from photos of detainee abuse to even the most
basic facts about the US detention center at Bagram Air Base in
Afghanistan. It has invoked the state secrets privilege in federal court
to keep hidden details about the Bush administration's wiretapping
program and what exactly happened to detainees at Guantánamo.
(Full disclosure: my wife works in the White House counsel's office.)
In these and other cases, however, the White House is fighting outside
groups like the ACLU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which it can try to
stonewall in the courts with relatively little press attention. In the
case of Congressional subpoenas, it would be impossible to replicate
that strategy without provoking a serious political outcry. Indeed, the
partisan incentives in such a scenario may work in favor of disclosure.
As unlikely as it may seem, Republicans on such a committee might find
themselves zealously pursuing more disclosure. When the White House
released the notorious OLC torture memos, Dick Cheney responded with an
uncharacteristic push for more disclosure, arguing that releasing other
documents would show the effectiveness of torture in foiling terror
There was a somewhat similar dynamic in effect with the Church
Committee, one that helped create momentum for greater levels of
transparency. Since the committee began in the wake of Nixon's
resignation and revelations about his deceptions, abuses and sociopathic
pursuit of grudges, Church and many Democrats had every reason to
believe they would be chiefly unmasking the full depths of Nixon's
perfidy. Quickly, however, it became clear that Nixon was a difference
in degree rather than a difference in kind. Kennedy and Johnson had,
with J. Edgar Hoover, put in place many of the illegal policies and
programs. Secret documents obtained by the committee even revealed that
the sainted FDR had ordered IRS audits of his political enemies.
Republicans on the committee, then, had as much incentive to dig up the
truth as did their Democratic counterparts.
As historian Kathy Olmsted argues in her book Challenging the Secret
Government, Church was never quite able to part with this conception
of good Democrats/bad Republicans. Confronted with misdeeds under
Kennedy and Johnson, he chose to view the CIA as a rogue agency, as
opposed to one executing the president's wishes. This characterization
became the fulcrum of debate within the committee. At one point Church
referred to the CIA as a "rogue elephant," causing a media firestorm.
But the final committee report shows that to the degree the agency and
other parts of the secret government were operating with limited control
from the White House, it was by design. Walter Mondale came around to
the view that the problem wasn't the agencies themselves but the
accretion of secret executive power: "the grant of powers to the CIA and
to these other agencies," he said during a committee hearing, "is, above
all, a grant of power to the president."
A contemporary Church Committee would do well to follow Mondale's
approach and not Church's. It must comprehensively evaluate the secret
government, its activities and its relationship to Congress stretching
back through several decades of Democratic and Republican
administrations. Such a broad scope would insulate the committee from
charges that it was simply pursuing a partisan vendetta against a
discredited Republican administration, but it is also necessary to
understand the systemic problems and necessary reforms.
Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit and
author of several books sharply critical of Bush's management of the
"war on terror," says he would be "happy" to testify before such a
committee to explain the rendition program he designed and supervised
under Clinton. That program allowed the United States to capture wanted
terrorists and send them back to other countries to face prosecution
and, in some cases, likely torture and mistreatment. It was this program
that would come to serve as the foundation for the Bush policy of
"extraordinary rendition," which amounted to the extralegal disappearing
of suspected terrorists around the world.
We don't know much about what other secret programs Clinton and other
former presidents implemented, but it's possible that under sustained
scrutiny the sharp division between the Bush administration and its
predecessors will begin to blur.
The Church Committee's final report was released on April 26, 1976, in
six books. Its recommendations laid the groundwork for a series of
reforms that more or less constitute the current architecture of
intelligence oversight. Before the Church Committee, there was no
stand-alone intelligence committee overseeing the executive. Whatever
communication there was between the two branches of government was
decidedly one-way. "[CIA director] Allen Dulles would come up himself to
the Hill," Bill Bader told me, "not to a committee room. And he would
sit down with [lawmakers] out in the Congressional corridors and whisper
things into their ears and say, Can't tell anyone about them. And then
he would go back up to the CIA."
In 1976 the Senate created the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the
House followed suit with its own Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence a year later. Also in 1976 President Ford signed Executive
Order 11905, which flatly stated, "No employee of the United States
Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political
assassination." Two years later, Congress passed and President Carter
signed FISA, which provided clear procedures for covert action,
surveillance and oversight. The law created the special FISA court,
which grants warrants for wiretapping and surveillance of anyone on
American soil as well as Americans abroad. The Church Committee's
revelations also had a profound effect on the bureaucratic culture of
the CIA, NSA and FBI. At all three agencies, internal legal controls
were put in place requiring layers of attorneys to sign off on any
possibly questionable activities.
But for all these needed reforms, it's impossible to look at the past
eight years and conclude they were sufficient. If cold war presidents
were surreptitious and/or cavalier about the lawlessness of their
actions, the Bush administration perfected a kind of perverse legalism,
using sympathetic lawyers to decree legal that which was manifestly
illegal. It was an ingeniously devious approach. By relying on John Yoo,
a loyal ideologue inside the OLC, Cheney et al. were able to perform an
end run around the extensive legal checks and restraints created
precisely as a response to the Church Committee's findings. Indeed, the
reason the infamous OLC memos are so garishly specific is that CIA
lawyers, still operating with a memory of the Church Committee, were
insistent on obtaining explicit sign-off for every action and technique
that they (quite rightly) believed to be of dubious legality.
Similarly, Congressional oversight proved no match for a determined
executive. Many critics from across the ideological spectrum, from
Clarke to Scheuer, note that this is at least partly because Congress
often would rather not know what is going on behind the curtain. But the
controversy over just what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew about the
CIA's use of torture, and when she knew it, underscores how
dysfunctional the notification system has become. Created as part of the
Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980, the so-called Gang of Eight system
allows a president, under emergency circumstances, to restrict briefings
on covert activities to the leader of each party in both houses and the
top member of each party of the House and Senate intelligence
committees. What was intended as a limited briefing to be given only
temporarily during crises has emerged, instead, as the standard.
Clarke explained its shortcomings to me this way: "Essentially what
happens, you're a member of the Gang of Eight. You get a phone call: 'We
have to come and brief you.' They ask you to go to the vault. They brief
you. You can't take notes, you can't have your staff there and you can't
tell anybody." In addition, each member is briefed separately and
individually, so they can't even discuss the briefing and ask questions
in a group setting. "That's oversight?" Clarke asks. "That's a pretense
at oversight. That's a box check. The law required us to do that, and we
That "box check" allowed the Bush administration to claim that Democrats
in Congress signed off on many of the most obviously illegal programs,
from warrantless wiretapping to torture. Democrats can counter that they
were barred by law from acting on whatever they knew. In other words,
both sides can claim they fulfilled their legal duties.
"One of the things that would be interesting for a modern version of the
Church Committee," says Robert Borosage, who worked at the Center for
National Security Studies to help publicize the original committee's
findings, "was that they'd be forced to confront the fact that a lot of
the reforms passed after the first one have failed. So the question
becomes, What do we do now?"
While many of the legal and institutional reforms ushered in by the
Church Committee have been degraded and evaded, I believe it would be a
mistake to argue that the committee failed. Its most enduring legacy is
the political and cultural understanding of the relationship between
secrecy and abuse; it narrated a moral fable about absolute power
Public debates over intelligence are qualitatively different from other
policy discussions. In a debate over whether, say, the economic stimulus
has been effective, there is a presumption that all participants are
working from a common set of data--GDP growth, unemployment, government
spending, etc.--but with different interpretations and emphases. Such is
not the case when the issue is the effectiveness of intelligence
programs or the scope of covert activities. Those debates are conducted
on fundamentally unequal footing. Critics may charge that torture is
counterproductive and produces bad intelligence, but defenders of the
secret government can wave away such concerns by saying, more or less,
You don't know what we know.
What the Church Committee did was to eliminate this inequality by
wrenching an entire segment of the state into the light of day. It
created a universally accepted set of facts, a canonical public record
that turned the secret conversations of the powerful and initiated into
the material for a broad debate. It brought the world of intelligence
into the public sphere, the place where self-governance ought to take
Selling a contemporary inquiry modeled on the Church Committee won't be
easy. Since the mid-1970s the right wing has crafted a deeply distorted
but potent fable about its impact and legacy. The tale goes like this:
the inquisition pursued by the Church Committee subjected intelligence
agencies to scorn and burned the agents and analysts. "In the years that
followed, it was extremely difficult to get FBI agents to volunteer for
counterterrorism assignments," argued two ex-FBI officials in a March
op-ed in the Washington Times. "The risk-avoidance culture and
excessive restrictions on gathering intelligence that resulted from the
Church hearings and other congressional attacks on the intelligence
community were major factors in our failure to prevent the Sept. 11
attacks.... [A] new Church Committee-like public inquiry might easily
have a similar chilling effect on our ability to recruit good people for
future counterterrorism activities."
It's not hard to find lots of people within the intelligence community
who will give you more or less the same line. Richard Clarke has little
patience for it. "What bothers me," he says, "is the CIA's tendency
whenever they're criticized to say, If you do your job, if you do
oversight seriously--which Congress almost never does--then we'll pout.
Some of us, many, will not just pout; we'll retire early. Our morale
will be hurt." And if morale is hurt and the agencies are gutted, they
argue, the country will be exposed to attack. In other words: "If you,
Congress, do oversight, then we'll all die. Can you imagine FEMA or the
agricultural department saying we're all going to retire if you conduct
oversight?" Clarke asks in disbelief.
The principle of oversight aside, the right-wing story about the
committee ruining intelligence capabilities for a generation posits a
golden age of über-competent intelligence-gathering that simply
never existed. The activities described in the committee report, more
often than not, have a kind of Keystone Kops flavor to them. "From its
beginning," says Clarke, "when [the CIA] does covert action as opposed
to clandestine activity...it regularly fucks up. I remember sitting with
[Defense Secretary] Bob Gates when he was deputy national security
adviser, and he said, I don't think CIA should do covert action; CIA
ought to be an intelligence collection and analysis [agency]."
At the peak of its cold war powers, the American security apparatus was
able to attain all kinds of information about the Russians (secret
information that KGB files have subsequently shown the Russians knew we
knew) but was unable to learn the most basic facts about "the enemy." We
failed to anticipate the invasion of Afghanistan and routinely
overestimated the strength of the Soviet economy. Indeed, the failure to
understand and foresee the internal pressures on the Soviet Union may be
the greatest failure of US cold war intelligence, one that had
absolutely nothing to do with the Church Committee and its aftermath.
In his insightful 1998 book Secrecy, neocon patron saint Daniel
Patrick Moynihan argues that by cordoning off discrete pieces of
information, secrecy actually impedes intelligence-gathering rather than
facilitates it. "Secrecy is for losers," Moynihan concludes. "For people
who don't know how important information really is. The Soviet Union
realized this too late.... It is time to dismantle government secrecy,
this most pervasive of Cold War-era regulations."
It's hard to imagine that the White House would be enthusiastic about
such an undertaking. Obama has insisted, routinely, unwaveringly, that
he is "more interested in looking forward than...in looking backwards."
At one level this seems a shocking abrogation of the executive branch's
chief constitutional responsibility, to "take care that the laws be
faithfully executed." But presumably the thinking goes something like
this: the president has a limited amount of political capital, and he
can spend it on major, once-in-a-generation reforms of the American
social contract--universal healthcare and cap and trade--or he can spend
it pursuing justice for the perpetrators of the previous
administration's crimes. As morally worthy as the latter might be, it
won't get anyone healthcare or stop the planet from melting; it won't
provide a new foundation for progressive governance.
But as self-consciously pragmatic as this posture is, it's proving
wildly impractical to implement. The reason is that the White House has
limited control over when and what is revealed about crimes and misdeeds
of the Bush years, and every time a new revelation hits the papers, such
as the recent disclosures of Blackwater's involvement with the CIA
assassination unit and interrogators' use of "mock executions," it
dominates the news cycle. Since the White House itself has defined such
revelations as a "distraction," every time they are in the news it is,
by its own definition, distracted.
The benefit of a new Church Committee would be that it would corral
these "distractions" into a coherent undertaking, initiated in Congress,
within a fixed time period. It would also provide a framework for
systematic investigation of the policies rather than selective
prosecutions of those at the bottom of the hierarchy who carried them
"Because try as Obama [may] to avoid investigations and looking
backwards, he's being dragged into it over and over again," says Clarke.
"It would be better for him if Congress just said, You know, Barack,
we're just gonna provide these wise men, give them subpoena authority.
It's not on you, Barack. There was this excess and that excess and a
pattern of excesses, and you know, it clears the air.... Now you have
the impression that there's a bunch of stinking turds under the rug."
Perhaps the greatest argument for such an undertaking is the simplest:
citizens have a right to know what crimes have been committed in their
names. Many of the relevant and damning facts have already been
conclusively established. We know we waterboarded Abu Zubaydah, a
borderline mentally ill member of the Al Qaeda entourage, eighty-three
times in one month. We know the NSA spied on an untold number of
Americans without warrants. We know that the CIA sent captured detainees
to the custody of regimes with abysmal human rights records, with the
explicit understanding they would be tortured.
The Church Committee came at a time when the public was in the midst of
a wrenching (and necessary) loss of innocence. But in our age, secret
government crimes and plots are almost a cliché. Polling shows
trust in government has returned roughly to its mid-'70s nadir. The
danger now isn't naïveté but cynicism--that we just come to
accept that the government will commit crimes in our name under the
cover of secrecy and that such activities are more or less business as
usual, about which nothing can be done. But something can be done.
Something must be done. And Congress should do it.