Friday, March 7, 2014

CIA = Caught in Act

So what's more horrendous -- that the CIA was caught spying on United States Senators, or that the CIA appears to be getting away with it, gleefully thumbing its nose at all of us because it enjoys the full faith and protection of elected officials past, present, and future?

Just who was caught, and who has already been captured? (Hint: every compromised elected official with a past, a cell phone, and a computer)

When even Rachel Maddow, who normally makes me cringe because she is normally such a shill for the Obama Administration and the Democrats, calls the spying scandal "the death of the Republic stuff," you know this is pretty serious stuff.

“The whole separation of powers thing almost pales in comparison to the seriousness of the allegation that a nation’s own spy services have been turned against its own government. Particularly, where that government is supposed to be overseeing the spy services," said MSNBC's Maddow this week.

The news that the CIA monitored members of the Senate Oversight Committee, who are supposedly overseeing the CIA, is rendered even more shocking with the further revelation that those doing the spying were outsourced independent contractors. Talk about the chicken of privatization coming home to roost!

But wait, it gets even worse. Kevin Gosztola reports, via Time, that Obama's Justice Department is now investigating the Senate staffers who had the nerve to look at CIA torture documents and possibly remove evidence of CIA crimes from the permitted premises! And here we are, fretting about the coup in Ukraine when there's a coup in the USA going on under our very noses.

McClatchey News Service, in breaking the original story, explained that the spying on the overseers revolves around the long-delayed release of a Senate report on torture and other abuses during the Bush Administration. Confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director last year was predicated upon his promise to release the report pending his agency's own perusal of it. That was a year ago. So either the spies are very slow readers, or they've got "stuff" they want to hide. Of course, Brennan's name is most likely in the report at frequent intervals, seeing how he'd also worked for Bush. He has long claimed to have known nothing about Bush era war crimes.

Brennan had originally been Obama's pick to direct the CIA in his first administration, but had to withdraw the nomination because the country was still reeling from Bush. Instead Obama appointed him his national security advisor, and together they devised the "Terror Tuesday" lists of pre-criminals to kill by drone. By the time the second term began, abuses by Obama had become acceptable to the polled majority of his "liberal supporters". Better to have a Killer Obama than a Killer Romney, doncha know. Rachel Maddow certainly never characterized Obama's various rampages against the Constitution as potential "death of the Republic stuff" in any case.

  From McClatchey:
The development marks an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers amid an extraordinary closed-door battle over the 6,300-page report on the agency’s use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons. The report is said to be a searing indictment of the program. The CIA has disputed some of the report's findings.
White House officials have closely tracked the bitter struggle, a McClatchy investigation has found. But they haven’t directly intervened, perhaps because they are embroiled in their own feud with the committee, resisting surrendering top-secret documents that the CIA asserted were covered by executive privilege and sent to the White House.
In question now is whether any part of the committee’s report, which took some four years to compose and cost $40 million, will ever see the light of day.
The report details how the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture, according to public statements by committee members. It also shows, members have said, how the techniques didn’t provide the intelligence that led the CIA to the hideout in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs.
The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.
As Dan Froomkin of The Intercept reports, senators are not so much demanding to know what the hell is going on, as they are reduced to issuing a plaintive cry for help:
In a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) referred to what he called “unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIA review,” and described it as “incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy.”
The allegation comes on the heels of a fruitless quest by members of the House and Senate to get NSA officials to confirm or deny whether information on phone calls by members of Congress has been swept up in the agency’s metadata dragnet. (Since it’s so indiscriminate, presumably they have, but the NSA won’t say so.)
Luckily for Obama, he is so embroiled in Ukraine-o-Mania, itself probably spawned by a CIA coup, that his non-answer to Udall has not yet been called into question.

This "death of the Republic stuff" is so extreme that I think it's also fair to ask, again, exactly what the president's function in our country really is. We all knew that he was the factotum of Wall Street, but does he also pledge his primary allegiance to the CIA? It has been confirmed that upon graduating Columbia, Obama worked for a CIA front group and had previously spent time traveling through Pakistan on an extended tour, "visiting friends." Such extreme conspiracy theorists as Alex Jones have long accused the president of being a CIA plant. You have to wonder if there's the tiniest grain of truth in any of this, given the president's apparent disinclination to order that torture report released. Or is this just another example of egregiously misplaced loyalty? Maybe he's just trying to protect his pal John Brennan.

But more likely, he's probably protecting his own rear end against the day another report is written on his own tortuous tenure of forced Gitmo feedings, continued extraordinary renditions of "terrorists," drone killings, whistleblowing prosecutions and his paranoid Insider Threat program, bankster protections, and unprecedented secrecy. He gave Bush a pass, so he expects Hillary or Jeb to continue the fine old pardoning tradition handed down for generations, and give him a free pass, too.

Sounds like the first order of business is to repeal the Patriot Act, if we have even a prayer of wresting what's left of our "representative democracy" from the hands of the surveillance state. Sounds like just the re-election litmus test for our corrupt, complicit and compromised politicians. I am waiting for the first brave soul willing to fight back instead of helplessly whining, to risk exposure for some past crime or embarrassment in order to save the moribund Republic stuff from itself.

Read more here:


annenigma said...

Oh please. Democrats like Rachel Maddow always feel free to go on the attack as long as they leave Obama out of the mess. Are we still supposed to believe how naive he is? Obama is very much at the center of these problems of spying and letting torturers off the hook, among a host of other executive abuses of the Constitution - covered very well at

If Obama hasn't been groomed by the CIA all along, I would expect he will be after he leaves office. He enjoys the dark side far too much and knows all the secrets. Can't let all that go to waste.

Here's my recent comment to the NYT's 'The Cost of Not Looking Back at Torture'.

"Don't forget John Kiriakou, the 14 year veteran of the CIA who is sitting in prison for helping to reveal this practice of torture by leaking classified information to a journalist. He is the sixth person, but not the last, smitten by the heavy hand of the Obama regime on Espionage Act violations.

For someone who claims he wants to look forward and not backward, Obama certainly enjoys landing a heavy blow on those who reveal government secrets, no matter how heinous. His record of prosecuting whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act is excessive and unwarranted, intended to chill if not freeze out the truth. Don't expect this President to cooperate in any manner except with empty words such as 'I welcome this debate'.

Does it seem likely that a President who boasts proudly that he is 'good at killing people' would have any qualms about torturing? I have my doubts that it has even ended. That's could be the real reason he is stonewalling - to keep the truth from coming out."

James F Traynor said...

Just saw an op-ed, or something, by a guy named Hunt, in the NYT, about possible Dem contenders for the crown in '16. After much stalling, he gets around to Elizabeth Warren who he agrees would be favored by the activists and the voters, but is a political neophyte, meaning by that, of course, she has yet to take the King's shilling.

James F Traynor said...

The CIA was run by the white shoe gang for years and still has that aura, but slightly more thuggier - Bogart with a switchblade. Long past time it was cleaned up, along with dumping the Patriot Act, NDAA and Citizens United. Talk about the Augean stables.

Jay - Ottawa said...

It’s very simple. Congress does not have to plead with the White House and its agencies to release documents the Congress is entitled to. Why this wringing of hands by Senators and Representatives? Poor dears.

Congress can act to hold the CIA’s feet to the fire or, better yet, to cut that agency down to size any time it chooses to. Just cut its budget. That’s how Congress got the Pentagon out of Vietnam: it stopped the appropriations for more war. So stop the appropriations for more spying on the homeland. Duh. Sometimes money is more powerful in its absence than in its presence.

Of course, voters will not rise up here, there and everywhere during the campaign between now and November 2014 to demand of both incumbents and their challengers that they take a pledge to reign in the CIA and other rogue surveillance agencies through budget cuts, the biggest club in the hands of Congress, should they ever again decide to use it. Seems to work whenever crushing poor people and sick people strikes them as necessary.

Zee said...

“Congress can act to hold the CIA’s feet to the fire or, better yet, to cut that agency down to size any time it chooses to. Just cut its budget.” —Jay-Ottawa

I guess I'm not so sure.

J. Edgar Hoover retained his hold over the FBI for decades thanks to his collection of secret files on everbody who was anybody.

Who knows what interesting information the CIA may have on those who purport to be in power today?

Zee said...


Who, exactly, are the "white shoe gang?"

I tried Google and came up with answers ranging from "the Mafia" to a collection of young black kids in Brooklyn who wore stolen, white tennis shoes so as to emulate the young seminarian who was working with them twice a week.

James F Traynor said...

Thus spake Wikipedia:

"According to William Safire, the phrase derives from "white bucks," laced suede or buckskin shoes with a red sole, long popular in the Ivy League colleges.[1][2] Originally, it reflected a stereotype of old-line firms populated by WASPs, but some say the phrase has since become innocuous. However, it is still defined by Princeton University's Wordnet as "denoting a company or law firm owned and run by members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative," which shows that the original connotation has not changed entirely.[3]

Business journalists typically link white shoe status to both historical reputation and current success in maintaining high prestige. A report on law firms, for example, says, "Clients like Intel and Credit Suisse First Boston mean this white-shoe law firm should keep its elite rep for years to come. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett was founded 113 years ago, and has represented a long string of corporate clients."[4] They are known for rigid dress codes, besides the shoe style.[5]"

Surprised at you, Zee.

Zee said...


Ah, I see now. The term is actually "white shoe firm," NOT "white shoe gang."

Google "white shoe gang" as I did when following you literally, and you'll find some surprises, James.

James F Traynor said...

'White shoe' refers to class. The CIA was run from its beginnings by that class.

"However, it is still defined by Princeton University's Wordnet as 'denoting a company or law firm owned and run by members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative,' which shows that the original connotation has not changed entirely.[3]"

Princeton and Yale,are still strong in that group. And it was why I referred to the CIA as the white shoe gang. The defining thing here is 'white shoe' and not the noun it modified. Allan Dulles was a classic example - 'members of the WASP elite who are generally conservative', and consider the rest of us to be, at best, their guests. For Princeton, still, a 'white shoe firm' is a firm run by white shoes; the clientele is of secondary importance. Class counts.

No, Zee, the CIA was, and probably still is the 'white shoe gang', not the 'white shoe firm' even though one of its old nicknames was 'the company'. Can you think of why it was?

Pearl said...

Great column about the CIA, Karen.

One has to laugh at the thought of all those nice Congresspeople having their private and professional lives being exposed, and by paid groups to do
so yet. I hope they have lots of sleepless nights and hopefully as you said, Karen, maybe someone will have the guts to speak up. However, I think the worst of that information may well be all the rotten deals they made with
each other politically as well as the kinds of comments they made about the rest of us as Romney did. We need another Snowden with hot information to reveal.

I am well acquainted with the activities of the CIA, some of which I have previously mentioned in comments here. When my husband washired and started teaching at his last possibility at the University of Miami in 1958, the University officials were visited by some representatives from an intelligence organization warning them of the danger of keeping my
husband on staff.
The people who had hired him were not only in shock at being threatened to isolate him from teaching, but by who met with them with such threats. My
husband was told that pressure from 'outside influences' , whose names they were forced to keep secret, were formidable and that they were helpless in the situation. They were all visibly upset and the Dean of the University privately advised my husband that it might be wise for him to consider leaving the United States as it was obvious that he would be made a scapegoat for some VERY powerful forces in the country. We had believed that
previous such visitations had come from the FBI, but this proved it was most certainly the CIA although I don't remember
if we thought so at the time.
This was their revenge because they could not get my husband to denounce his stepfather regarding the slanderous accusations against him. In a subsequent lengthy article in which I wrote about those years, I warned those who read what we had endured, to be aware of the dangers of the various intelligence agencies that were hunting down people they believed to be a threat to the government and what the unwelcome results might become.
Well it has happened in spades, and now we are reaping the unholy results of those early beginnings during the McCarthy era. I only hope people can wake up to the dangers the country is facing before it becomes irreversible.

Pearl said...

P.S. As soon as I posted my comment about the CIA I turned on a repeat on Public TV of a celebration concert in honor of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday. A great reminder of what has been and could be. The kind of people that honored Pete, never die and we have to hope that we will once more see a resurrection of that spirit. Maybe our Millennium children and/or grandchildren will open the doors. Reports are favorable for that happening.