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History As It Happens

Jan 24, 2023

One of the first moves House Republicans made upon assuming the chamber’s majority was to create, in a party-line vote of 221-211, the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” But rather than use that unwieldy moniker, GOP leaders appropriated the name of an iconic investigative committee from a bygone era. In 1975, in an 82-4 vote, the Senate created the Church committee, which was chaired by Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church, to investigate the FBI, CIA, and NSA. (Its official title was the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities). Church’s panel examined decades of egregious abuses, which were brought to light as Americans recovered from the traumas of Vietnam and Watergate. In this episode, historian Sam Martin, the Frank and Bethine Church Endowed Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University in Idaho, compares and contrasts the historically important work of the original Church committee with the aims of today's House GOP.