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CIA Spying on Congress?

The gloves are off and Senator Diane Feinstein is pissed. Seems the CIA is conducting an illegal search of Senate staffers charged with investigating the CIA’s interrogation program. According to the AP:

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the CIA Tuesday of criminal activity in improperly searching a computer network set up for lawmakers investigating allegations that the agency used torture in terror investigations during the Bush administration.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein, in an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor, publicly aired an intense but formerly quiet dispute between Congress and the spy agency. She said the matter has been referred to the Justice Department for further investigation.

Both Feinstein and the CIA have accused each other’s staffs of improper behavior. She said she had “grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”

CIA Director John Brennan, asked about Feinstein’s accusations, said the agency was not trying to stop the committee’s report and that it had not been spying on the panel or the Senate. He said the appropriate authorities would look at the matter further and “I defer to them to determine whether or not there was any violation of law or principle.”

Brennan is the key to this story. He was a senior intelligence officer at the CIA during the George W. Bush administration and he was knowledgeable and supportive of the harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists and the invasion of Iraq back when it was politically expedient. He is the quintessential political Chameleon. Happily changed his stripes to become an Obama supporter in order to claw his way to head the CIA.

Brennan can be counted on to hide the truth and provide political cover. Remains to be seen if the snooping on the Senate staffers was carried out with his knowledge or authority.

CIA traditionally chafes at the thought of accepting Congressional oversight. Only this time, it appears that zealous CIA officials went too far. Another part of the dynamic is the fact that Repubicans on the Senate Intel are not too keen on pealing back the curtain on the abuses carried out under the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld regime. But these are truths that need to see the light of day.

I know from talking with knowledgeable friends that the extreme interrogation methods championed by the likes of Cheney were ineffective and, at times, counterproductive. Retired FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan has spoken and written repeatedly about what he saw on this front. The AP, in a separate story, highlights some key findings of the still unpublished Senate Intel Committee report:

—Feinstein, D-Calif., has said the program’s abuses included “beating a detainee in Afghanistan, who later died in custody, with a heavy flashlight; threatening a detainee with a handgun and a power drill; staging a mock execution; threatening to kill a detainee’s family; choking a detainee to the point of unconsciousness” and using the interrogation technique known as waterboarding in ways the CIA’s legal counsel had not authorized.

The report concluded that the rendition, detention and interrogation produced little intelligence of value, and claimed the CIA exaggerated its worth to the White House and Congress. The CIA has challenged that in a detailed, 100-page-plus rebuttal, according to former senior intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the report publicly.

Disagreements include whether the interrogation program helped track down Osama bin Laden. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta and others say it did; the Senate investigators say the CIA learned of the existence of the courier that led to bin Laden by other intelligence means.

The Senate staffers are revising their report and updating it to include some of those CIA comments, including correcting some factual errors, before asking the White House

This was not one of the finest hours for the CIA.

  • Retired_from_SPOnaj
    • HELENK2

      sounds like he is a good man.
      is feinstein mad because her staffers got caught and turned in for taking classified material?

    • KenoshaMarge

      Is this whole thing a turf war? Is it political in order to get Obama’s choice in place?
      Something stinks about this. Especially Feinstein.

  • HELENK2
  • HELENK2

    off topic

    backtrack’s foreign policy not too popular

    this is one angry lady

    http://www.ijreview.com/2014/03/120723-egyptian-womans-rant-obama-goes-viral/

  • beyond partisan

    Feinstein is only outraged because she’s afraid her skeletons might come out of the closet because of this. Notice how little she did previously when it was just us little ole average Americans were being spied upon. Frankly, I think unless it is of extreme national security, all of Congress should have webcams installed in their offices and Americans should be able to just tune in whenever we want to have some oversight on those a-holes.

    • S7teen70six

      Double like!

  • HELENK2

    http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/03/11/graham-the-legislative-branch-should-declare-war-on-the-cia/

    per lindsey graham—-the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.

    here is another one who needs to spend more time at home

  • HELENK2

    http://www.dcclothesline.com/2014/03/12/justin-amash-feinstein-hypocrites-like-public-doesnt-trust-congress/

    OUCH justin amash tells feinstein hypocrites like you reason public doesn’t trust congress

  • HELENK2

    Megan Kelly will be talking about this tonight on her show

  • HELENK2
    • KenoshaMarge

      I want McCain to just STFU.

      • HELENK2

        me too and please can he go home soon

        • KenoshaMarge

          Only if the voters of Arizona wake up and vote him out of office. Why they keep inflicting him on the rest of the country is beyond me.

    • KlugerRD

      So it is okay to spy on everyone else – just don’t spy on Senators

  • KenoshaMarge

    There is so much back-stabbing, double-dealing, lying, corruption and just plain bullshit in our government that it becomes more difficult by the day to care about who does what to who. (Or is that whom?)

    And I really find it hard to accept Diane Feinstein as a person who gives a rat’s ass about the Constitution. She doesn’t much are about the 2nd Amendment part does she?
    As for Brennen – it says it all that both parties found him useful. He’s a slimeball and that find that just dandy so long as he’s their slimeball.

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Diane Feinstein has a permit to carry a concealed firearm because she feels that, as a person of importance, she needs it. She doesn’t feel that the common citizenry should have the right to keep and bear arms because it’s dangerous for society. Only enlightened intellectuals like herself should be able to carry firearms.

      • KenoshaMarge

        Exactly!

  • FloridaFI

    OT

    Russia to build at least 2 more Iranian nuclear plants

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/russia-agrees-to-build-at-least-two-more-nuclear-plants-iran/articleshow/31897439.cms

    Putin gives Obama the middle finger salute. . . . . . Again.

  • Savannahlawyer

    Larry (if I may call you that), your post raised two issues. The first was Sen. Feinstein’s allegation. The second was the CIA’s alleged use of torture. Both are very serious issues and should be repugnant to Americans. If true, both are serious wrongs done by the executive branch.
    I would say the purported spying by the CIA on then senate staffers is the greater evil. I am not trying to lessen the allegations of torture, but those were done by the executive on foreign individuals. The spying was done by one branch of the government against another. That runs against how our government runs and how it is limited. The torture was only how our government operated.
    It bothers me to post that because torture is simply evil. Apparently, when we do it it is also ineffective, provides faulty information, and gives our enemies a needless propaganda victory.

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      The fact that Sen Feinstein makes an accusation of spying does not make it true. See my comment below for the CIA’s version of events. At this point, we don’t really know which is fully or partially correct, and to what degree.

      • KenoshaMarge

        Nothing a politician says makes it true. Especially a hypocrite like Feinstein.

      • Savannahlawyer

        You are correct, Retired. We don’t know what is true, not true, or even partially true. I’m sure hyperbole abounds from all sides. I tried to keep my use of “alleged” to a minimum. I do enough of that in my day job. The one fact we seem to know for certain is the Feinstein is pissed off. I don’t know this for certain, but I’d wager it is not a good thing to be the subject of her ire.

        • Retired_from_SPOnaj

          Not if she votes on your budget.

  • ME

    “This was not one of the finest hours for the CIA..”

    No doubt. I have to laugh however, the CIA spying on the staffers investigating the CIA…good grief. So now suddenly congress cares about spying on Americans! Gee, ya think maybe unchecked power could become a problem someday?

    • KenoshaMarge

      That was my first thought too – now they care about spying on Americans when they are the Americans being spied on.

  • KlugerRD

    For anyone paying attention to the special congressional election in Florida it appears Sink has sunk and the district is Jolly.

    • http://noquarterusa.net Larry Johnson

      Funny and clever.

    • KenoshaMarge

      And now that the Repubican won it wasn’t an important race at all. Funny how yesterday when the left, and much of the right, thought Jolly would be sunk by Sink it was a “bellwether”. Now not so much.

  • elizabethrc

    There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t read about another invasion and/or curtailment of citizens’ privacy and even safety by this government. In the case of one report today, a heavily armed group of some sort of ‘civilian militia’ stormed a private citizen’s house, waving guns and frightening the family and the entire neighborhood for apparently to productive end. Is this what we want for our country? At what point will any of this overreach by government agencies be stopped? Can it even be stopped? With agencies as large as the CIA, the IRS, DHS, and others, how would we know any law pulling them back from their excesses would even work? If electing another President would do it, I’d be relieved, but it sounds like they operate quite on their own. That’s pretty frightening.
    This is an argument for smaller government, if ever I saw one. Maybe the only ones who need surveilling are those agencies. Who’s going to volunteer?

    • ME

      I kid you not, up North here we suddenly have so many lettered branches of law enforcement, I can’t recognize them anymore. Seriously, they actually trip over each other. One of these days somebody is going to get hurt because they don’t even know each other.

  • HELENK2
    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Oh, oh, Hillary, look out! Feinstein has a vagina, too. Better back off on the, “We must have a woman as President” campaign.

      • KenoshaMarge

        Funny I never thought having a vagina qualified anyone for office. But then I never thought a penis did either. Voting by body parts is beyond stupid.
        Some day people will vote based on what’s between the ears and in the heart. Then we might finally get someone decent in office.

        • wylrae

          Somewhat confused! Are not heart and brain body parts? Granted too many voters do not consider either before they pull the lever.

          • KenoshaMarge

            You’re right and I was so carried away by my own indignaiton I missed my own point and typed something stupid. Not the first time and probably not the last. The older I get the oftener the brain-farts occur.

            Fixed it so it almost makes sense. I will go lay down now.

            • S7teen70six

              It’s the brain sharts you have to be careful of.

        • S7teen70six

          The only way I see something like that happening is if both political parties expose so much of their ugly backside that the voters won’t be able to put up with their bullshit any longer. So far they have managed to do a pretty good job of assigning blame toward each other enough to keep the vast majority of us distracted. So we only see what we think we see based upon our fears, misconceptions and prejudices, which both sides engender without hesitation or moral. It is possible that such a day will happen. Just not likely anytime soon.

          • KenoshaMarge

            Hard to “expose” them when the media will not and most of the population is more interested in the outcomes on the “Bachelor” or “Survivor” or whatever mindless reality show is now in vogue.

  • HELENK2

    http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/07/6212222/senate-staffers-slipped-secret.html

    what congressional staffers took info from the CIA and why?

    seems like a lot of people stepping beyond bounds on this one

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      The story got it wrong. The CIA’s concern was not in appropriately cleared and briefed oversight staffers or members of the oversight committees viewing the documents. Indeed, the Agency provided the documents to them in a special security-compartmented space and on security-compartmented computers for the purpose of the staffers viewing them. Rather, the Agency’s concern is the staffers removing the documents from appropriate compartmented control into Congressional spaces where appropriate compartmented security controls don’t exist, thus raising the possibility that other persons not briefed into the compartmented control system may view them. In the Agency’s view, they were conducting a legitimate investigation as to who violated the security of the compartment.

  • S7teen70six

    CIA traditionally chafes at the thought of accepting Congressional oversight.

    I was under the impression that members of the CIA took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which clearly gives Congress the power of oversight.

    • http://noquarterusa.net Larry Johnson

      Silly girl. Protect the bureaucracy at all costs. Screw the Constitution.

      • S7teen70six

        Dick measuring, CYA fiefdoms are exactly the type of working environment that enabled Benghazi and its aftermath.

        • wylrae

          Hmmm, so is Hillary involved in dick measuring or is it just the CYA fiefdoms?

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Congress brings some of the resentment on themselves when their “oversight” exceeds their Constitutional brief and includes directing the CiA to take stupid, ill-considered and unprofessional actions under the threat of withholding CIA funding. A great example of this was the post-9/11 directive from Congress to the CIA to “double the number of officers overseas under non-traditional cover.” The Agency is still suffering from the stupidity of that idiotic, politically-driven directive. Thus the resentment. CIA officers are human, with all of the frailties and faults that other humans have.

      • S7teen70six

        I fully concede that Congress does not have the authority to direct the actions of the CIA. That authority resides within the Executive branch. In my opinion, most of our government lost its mind entirely after we were attacked on September 11, 2001. And the current Presentdidn’t has only made things much worse. Intentionally.

        • Dave L.

          If they want control over the CIA, that can be done with the purse strings. Watch for the threat of cutting funds.

      • ME

        I bet congress really does bring on some resentment. I resent the heck out of them myself.

      • KenoshaMarge

        I find it hard to trust congressional oversight when we all see that congress cares only about their own political issues and/or problems. Who to trust? For me the answer is none of the above.

        • S7teen70six

          I don’t trust them either. But as long as I am a taxpayer and they make a living off from our taxes I will insist that they do their damned job.

          • KenoshaMarge

            That’s the whole problem – we elect them – we give them enormous power – we pay them and then DON’T do their damn job. Their job, as they seem to see it, is to get re-elected so that they can continue to screw the people who elected them.
            The few who do think they should do their job are reguarded as abberations by their collegues and as enemies of the status quo by the media.

            We can insist but until the majority of Americans do too we are screwed. The more who go to the polls with only party loyalty in their tiny little minds the “screweder” we get.