During a House Intelligence Committee session this week, Republican Representative Michele Bachmann made quite a bizarre spectacle during her questioning of CIA Director John Brennan and other representatives of the organization.
Looks of disbelief flashed across faces of the CIA representatives who were clearly in disapproval of Bachmann’s broaching of various classified matters in such an open forum.
Bachmann began her questioning with the Benghazi attacks from 2012, an event that has been the subject of a wide variety of unsubstantiated claims and conspiracy theories among certain conservative circles. Addressing John Brennan, she asked about what she alleged to be the White House’s “armed drone strikes” in eastern Libya just before the attacks.
“Armed drone strikes in Libya?” Brennan asked incredulously. “I am unknowing of such and would defer to the White House to address your question.”
Undaunted, Bachmann pressed the issue, to which Brennan replied, “the White House doesn’t have a drone capability, responsibility” and went on to say that he had no idea what she was referring to.
Changing the subject, Bachmann asked Brennan “what is our red line regarding the Iranian nuclear development program?”
“That clearly is a policy question,” Brennan responded, pointing out that he’s not the right person to address such matters.
But the most bizarre point in the questioning came towards the end when Bachmann asked about Iran’s “heavy water reactor.” After a brief stunned silence, the CIA panel whispered amongst themselves for several seconds before one panelist somewhat harshly informed the congresswoman the question would be “much better talked about in a closed session.”
Matt Wilstein of Mediaite writes, “It’s not entirely clear whether Bachmann thought she would be able to extract classified information live on C-SPAN from Brennan and his CIA colleagues, or if she was just using her platform on the committee to air some of things on the international stage that have been bugging her. Either way, it was likely one of the strangest interactions between Congress and the CIA ever caught on camera.”
Watch the exchange in the video below.