Senator Feinstein Finally Finds Surveillance To Get Angry About: When It Happened To Her Staffers

from the well,-look-at-that dept

This morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein finally got angry over the abusive practices of the intelligence community that she oversees as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Historically, of course, Feinstein has used her role of “oversight” to actually do everything possible to protect and defend the various intelligence organizations. However, as we’ve been discussing, Feinstein has wanted to declassify and publish an apparently devastating $40 million 6,300 page report detailing how the CIA’s torture program was a complete disaster. The CIA has been fighting hard against this, and in the last few weeks, it came out that the CIA also spied on Senate staffers who were working on the report, after they’d uncovered an internal CIA document that corroborated the big report, and which showed the CIA had lied to the Senate. The CIA has hit back trying to blame the staffers for “illegally” taking a classified document, but that argument rings hollow.

Feinstein is apparently quite furious about all of this and let loose this morning about the CIA, claiming that they not only spied on the staffers, but secretly removed documents from the computers the staffers were using. She directly claimed that the CIA “may have undermined the constitutional framework” of Congressional oversight. That’s not a charge one throws around lightly.

Besides possible constitutional violations, Feinstein said the CIA may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, various federal laws and a presidential executive order that bars the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance. She said she has asked for an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, but, “I have received neither.”

While this confirms much of what was reported last week, it’s noteworthy that Feinstein is speaking out about it. To date, she has tried to avoid saying much about this whole debate publicly, but it appears that the issue has finally boiled over. As we noted last week, having the CIA spy on its Senate overseers (and potentially tampering with their computers to remove documents) is an incredible overreach.

Of course, wasn’t it just less than two months ago that Feinstein claimed that the intelligence community would never abuse its powers, because they were made up of professionals whose activities are “strictly vetted”? Perhaps she’ll now go back and admit that perhaps she shouldn’t be so trusting of the intelligence community when they’re spying on everyone else, beyond just her staffers.

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