A few days ago I noted that it appeared that the CIA has conducted spying operations targeting computers assigned to the staff of Senate Intelligence Committee. Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein went to the floor of the Senate and delivered a scathing attack on the CIA for conducting such operations, which she believes are illegal and may violate the Fourth Amendment. Here is an excerpt:
Below is the full transcript of her remarks which is worth a full read. Among other items she disclosed is that the current general counsel to the CIA (who she did not name) was the man who headed the secret torture program and that his name appears more than 1600 times in the torture documents the Senate has reviewed.
This confrontation is particularly interesting in that Feinstein is an absolute defender of virtually every NSA spying program, but she apparently has been converted to a serious opponent of the CIA. I think the CIA is playing with fire here, and that the executive branch, including Obama, should do everything possible to unwind and clean up the CIA actions. The spying is a frontal attack on Congressional oversight and a violation of Constitutional separation of powers.
Update: And, via The Intercept, there is this:
Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal watchdog group, issued the following statement:
We are outraged by Senator Feinstein’s description of repeated efforts by the CIA to thwart critical and legitimate congressional oversight through delays, attacks, intimidation and attempts to conceal. This is not a partisan issue. Such conduct strikes at the heart of our nation’s constitutional system of separation of powers.
This is truly a defining moment, not only for congressional oversight of the intelligence community, but also for President Obama’s legacy on torture. The White House cannot allow the CIA to drive this process any longer. The president must ensure that the committee’s report is declassified to the fullest extent possible, as well as the CIA’s response to the committee’s study and the so-called Panetta review. But President Obama should not stop there; he should declassify the rendition, detention and interrogation program itself.
Update 2: And here is Edward Snowden’s reaction to Feinstein’s statement:
It’s clear the CIA was trying to play “keep away” with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that’s a serious constitutional concern.
But it’s equally if not more concerning that we’re seeing another “Merkel effect,” where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.
He certainly has a good point.
Update 3: Below is Senator Patrick Leahy‘s response to Feinstein’s statement.
- Feinstein: CIA snooped on secure Congressional network (hotair.com)
- Feinstein defends Senate intel committee against CIA accusations (kansascity.com)
- Dianne Feinstein Upset that CIA Is Spying on Dianne Feinstein (motherjones.com)
- Feinstein publicly accuses CIA of spying on Senate computers (latimes.com)