6 Senate Intelligence Staffers Fired by GOP
Six staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were fired last week in a Republican shakeup that alarmed some Democrats on the panel, congressional officials said Tuesday.
Among those released were all three members of the committee’s audit staff, which is responsible for investigating classified programs operated by the CIA and other spy agencies. The other departures included the committee’s general counsel and two support staff, officials said.
The head of the audit team, Don Stone, was regarded as an “independent, objective” investigator, said one official who asked not to be named. His dismissal prompted concern among Democrats that Republicans “eliminated an investigative part of the committee they couldn’t control.” But Republicans rejected such characterizations.
“The audit staff is not being disbanded or dismantled,” said a senior GOP aide on the committee, adding that the panel’s chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) intended to fill the positions quickly “with highly qualified individuals.”
The aide also noted that Roberts did not make personnel changes when he became chairman of the committee two years ago. Chairmen of congressional committees generally have wide latitude to select staff.
Stone, a Republican staffer who had been a member of the committee since the mid-1990s, could not be reached for comment. He was formerly a member of the inspector general’s office at the CIA.
Several officials said Stone and his staff were not directly involved in politically sensitive investigations, including the committee’s probe of erroneous prewar assertions by the CIA and other agencies that Iraq had banned chemical and biological weapons.
A spokesman for Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, declined to comment on the matter.