When Sen. Dianne Feinstein discovered in 2010 that the CIA was illegally tinkering with evidence about its torture program, she apparently was not upset enough to either denounce the agency publicly or to demand a criminal investigation.
She demanded an apology instead. And she got one. Case closed.
But when she recently demanded a similar apology from the CIA for spying on her own staff, a mea culpa was not forthcoming. And so, in a fit of pique, DiFi took to the Senate floor today to express her deepest disappointment that the CIA never learned any decent manners. If only they'd personally expressed their regret to their BFF Dianne, the cheating and the serial violations of the Constitution never would have had to come to this public airing of dirty laundry.
DiFi, who has long enabled the antics of the spook agency rather than fulfilling her own duties as chaperone of the spook dance, is acting like a woman scorned. She is not taking being ill-used "lightly."
Her belated tirade comes in the wake of media revelations that the CIA had not only illegally spied on her oversight personnel looking into Bush-era waterboarding and other war crimes, it had also had the chutzpah to accuse her people of stealing incriminating documents about the agency's torture program. Therefore, her continued complicity within the shadow state has become a tad uncomfortable for her. Caught as she is between a rock and a hard place, she's being forced to come out of the shadows and pick a side.
Of course, this is not defined as "our side." Spying on the hoi polloi is dandy, spying on DiFi's entourage, not so much. She has not, of course, gone so far as to threaten to cut off the cash flow for her CIA. She simply wants her side of the story to get out. This is what is known in political circles as Damage Control.
So, DiFi is regretfully choosing her own employees over the spies she thought had loved her. And it hurts her to be so indiscreet about the end of the affair. It really hurts. You can hear the pain in her voice. You can feel the pain in her tortured official written denunciation:
I rise today to set the record straight and to provide a full accounting of the facts and history.
Let me say up front that I come to the Senate Floor reluctantly. Since January 15, 2014, when I was informed of the CIA’s search of this committee’s network, I have been trying to resolve this dispute in a discreet and respectful way. I have not commented in response to media requests for additional information on this matter. However, the increasing amount of inaccurate information circulating now cannot be allowed to stand unanswered.Huh? Her claim that she didn't know about CIA malfeasance until early this year is shot down by subsequent paragraphs in her own statement:
In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that [certain] documents that had been provided for the committee’s review were no longer accessible. Staff approached the CIA personnel at the offsite location, who initially denied that documents had been removed. CIA personnel then blamed information technology personnel, who were almost all contractors, for removing the documents themselves without direction or authority. And then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. When the committee approached the White House, the White House denied giving the CIA any such order.
After a series of meetings, I learned that on two occasions, CIA personnel electronically removed committee access to CIA documents after providing them to the committee. This included roughly 870 documents or pages of documents that were removed in February 2010, and secondly roughly another 50 were removed in mid-May 2010.
This was done without the knowledge or approval of committee members or staff, and in violation of our written agreements. Further, this type of behavior would not have been possible had the CIA allowed the committee to conduct the review of documents here in the Senate. In short, this was the exact sort of CIA interference in our investigation that we sought to avoid at the outset.So, she knew something was afoot for the past several years. But let's parse it: when she became aware of evidence-tampering by the CIA, possibly at the behest of the White House, she said nothing publicly. After all, they were all Democrats. It was an election year. But actually spying on her own Staff? By outside contractors, no less! And the press gets ahold of the story? Cue the outrage.
And about that evidence-tampering, or evidence theft. The White House counsel and the CIA got themselves off the hook by politely apologizing to Feinstein, promising they'd never tinker with evidence ever again. And so she thought everything was hunky dory:
I went up to the White House to raise this issue with the then-White House Counsel, in May 2010. He recognized the severity of the situation, and the grave implications of Executive Branch personnel interfering with an official congressional investigation. The matter was resolved with a renewed commitment from the White House Counsel, and the CIA, that there would be no further unauthorized access to the committee’s network or removal of access to CIA documents already provided to the committee.
On May 17, 2010, the CIA’s then-director of congressional affairs apologized on behalf of the CIA for removing the documents. And that, as far as I was concerned, put the incident aside.This is pretty stunning stuff. A sitting Senator has evidence of a crime with a cover-up possibly originating in the White House, and she covers it up.
This, from the woman who had the chutzpah to suggest that Edward Snowden is a traitor. (For his own part, Snowden sees right through DiFi's maudlin performance art, likening her display of outrage to that displayed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon discovering she'd been the victim of American spy state eavesdropping.
And then there's her explanation of how her staff obtained a secret report by former CIA Director Leon Panetta.... the report that the CIA is now accusing them of "stealing." DiFi even has a sneaking suspicion that her people might have innocently gotten the forbidden documents in question as a result of them being deliberately planted by an Edward Snowden-type character!
We have no way to determine who made the Internal Panetta Review documents available to the committee. Further, we don’t know whether the documents were provided intentionally by the CIA, unintentionally by the CIA, or intentionally by a whistle-blower.
In fact, we know that over the years—on multiple occasions—the staff have asked the CIA about documents made available for our investigation. At times, the CIA has simply been unaware that these specific documents were provided to the committee. And while this is alarming, it is also important to note that more than 6.2 million pages of documents have been provided. This is simply a massive amount of records.So if evidence of crimes came through, the only fault lies in the fact that evidence spans over 6.2 million pages. It's hard out there for a stonewaller, I guess. Who can possibly read all that incriminating material and make it safe for bureaucracy?
The tortured explanation goes on and on and on. What really shines through is her persistence in believing that if only current CIA Director John Brennan had kept her in the elite loop instead of giving her the cold shoulder and ignoring her letters, she would never have gone into public accusatory mode. And that is perhaps the scariest aspect of this whole scandal.
|Johnny & Di in Happier Times|
It will be interesting to see anybody demands an investigation of the subterfuge, given how many people seem to be in it up to their eyeballs. I tend to doubt it. Real scandals that affect real people have a way of never becoming official scandals in official Washington.
Meanwhile, in denying that he ever spied on Di, John Brennan expressed supreme confidence in his own continuing job security. "I will be the first one to say we need to get to the bottom of it," he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "And if I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him exactly what I did and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go."
As of this posting, the president had not yet asked Brennan to stay or go. As a matter of fact, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made it perfectly clear: "The president has great confidence in John Brennan, and confidence in our intelligence community and in our professionals at the CIA."
So if I had to predict Obama's non-answer in a press briefing (or, more likely, in one of his serial performance art performances on a daytime talk show or comedy webcast), it would go something like this: "I have the utmost regard for both Senator Feinstein and my CIA director. These people are dedicated public servants. I call both of them friends. Therefore, I will be calling a meeting in the near future, in order that these minor differences and misunderstandings between two good people can be worked out to everyone's satisfaction."
And swept under the rug, right along with the tattered remains of the Bill of Rights.