Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Spy Who Didn't Love Her

This is just pathetic.

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.


annenigma said...

It's funny how they didn't seem to care when Clapper committed perjury in order to mislead the public about spying, but then it was only the lowly public he was trying to fool. They all knew he was lying about spying on all of US, but they gave him a free pass for that crime. Now someone failed to tip off DiFi about the latest crime in advance and she's all humiliated and embarrassed. At last, a real 'crime' Congressional Democrats can get upset about.

I'm not buying it though. It looks like election year political theater to me, but Democrats are showing signs of desperation. As they say, never let a good crisis go to waste. It's risky taking on the intelligence community, but at least now they have an issue which resonates with the public and doesn't risk support from Wall $treet. Poifect!

Democrats using CIA controversy as vote bait? Obama had better stage manage this just right, but then I don't think DiFi would give her public speech without approval of The Man. They need to control the narrative carefully though, and in this case I suspect it's going to evolve into 'Blame Bush and the Republicans For Everything'. So DiFi has now launched this production with a big speech and the media will get scripts for their roles, all revolving around the message that the ONLY way to fix this intelligence mess is to HELP THEM - by voting for Democrats this Fall. Now we can expect to hear a lot about Bush and Republicans, nothing about Obama, but plenty of promises from them about now they will try to fix things but only IF and AFTER they get re-elected.

The CIA Torture Report is a Bush-associated safe target (unless it is actually released without tons of redactions) then all bets are off. But what about Obama's own secret document that he's still stonewalling from Congress? I am referring to the alleged 'legal' basis for the executive power to have American citizens assassinated.

Obama could kill two birds with one stone (he's "good at killing") and sign an executive order to release both documents today. Ain't. gonna. happen. Congress and Obama are both willing to allow Americans to be killed by our own government despite obvious Constitutional protections. Neither is allowing legal challenges by citizens to potentially save our own lives as well as our rights. I wonder if it will ever occur to them that this is the same CIA that executes Obama's orders to assassinate American citizens - his private covert army. Maybe when President Jeb Bush is sworn in.

Oh, but spying on a committee of Congress is what they now *act* upset about. If only they would act, period.

James F Traynor said...

A clear and egregious case of lèse-
majesté. Poor woman.

paul said...

I take the position that real CIA people, ie the ones who excel at their work and love it... these people are internally more evil than any person whe is just a little bit sane should fear mightily. They are dangerous. I think Feinstein started fearing for her life as she came to realize their evilness. If she doesn't suffer a fatal accident in the near future, this thing will play out with her being recognized as a national hero.- maybe even with returning from Russia to a hero's welcome. Yes. there are evil people everywhere, and the CIA has much more than its fair share

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Well, the chickens have come home to roost, Diane. It always amazes me that these politicians are stupid enough to think they control organisations like the CIA. These organisations are run by people who are so entrenched in the system that they see themselves as totally untouchable. Stupid, Diane. She protected a monster that has grown more powerful because of her complicity and now the monster has turned on her.

On the other hand, Annenigma, might have a point. This all could be theatrics.

Chris Hedges has a good piece over at Truthdig. These politicians are all totally corrupted from Putin to Obama to Feinstein to the religious morons on the school boards. Everyone is out to pad their own nest at our expense. Jimmy Carter is right, we clearly have no functioning democracy.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Valerie (and @all):

You said: "These politicians are all totally corrupted from Putin to Obama to Feinstein to the religious morons on the school boards. Everyone is out to pad their own nest at our expense. Jimmy Carter is right, we clearly have no functioning democracy."

Generally correct (though I'd take issue with the religious disparagement --- not because I'm religious, I'm not --- but because of 1) the dangers of stereotyping, and 2) the need for broad-based, sometimes seemingly-counterintuitive alliances. For instance, I think that a strong logical, scientific case can be made for biodiversity and conservation. Yet I realize that others might support those ends from a perspective of religious-based "stewardship". I welcome their assistance.).

The fact of the matter is that many things in this country don't work properly, and the list doesn't end with the different levels of politics. The economy, banking, health care, education, mainstream journalism --- they all don't work properly either. Individual corruption certainly plays a large role, but a more general part can be traced to the tyranny of capitalism, where maximizing profit transcends everything else as goal. That maximization of profits doesn't just corrupt individual behavior, it profoundly distorts the functioning of our institutions, in many areas. To greed and profits add in the varieties of ignorance, stupidity, and inertia --- at both the level of individuals and institutions --- and you've got a recipe for extensive national deterioration, which is what we see.

Pearl said...

I just had a chance to read some of the comments to Maureen's article, The Spies that Didn't Love Her, and
am amazed. So many great comments and I am sure from disenchanted democrats that her column inspired. Hopefully, this is what is rumbling beneath us and
when given a chance, the more knowledgeable citizens are speaking up..

However, after reading Henry Giroux's lengthy article in Truthout about the deep
state, Henry Giroux | Neoliberalism, Youth and Social Justice,


one can become paralyzed with hopelessness realizing that real
political and social revolution is required. I however believe that the current takeover by the military industrial complex is overdue for collapse and will then invite change forcing the populace to wake up. Maureen has finally written something of merit as evidenced by the responses. And please print your top recommended comment to that column Karen, in Sardonicky.

Karen Garcia said...

Here is my commment to MoDo, who obviously was also thinking of the Carly Simon song when she wrote about Di & Johnny:

What I found astounding about DiFi's soliloquy was her insinuation that if only the CIA had apologized to her, all would have been forgiven, forgotten and swept under the rug. She seemed more upset about Brennan giving her the cold shoulder than about the malfeasance of his agency. She finds herself in the unique and untenable position of having to choose between her besieged staffers and the spooks she's protected and championed all these years. She has to at least pretend to be on the side of the people she employs.

As far as being on the side of the public, though? Not so much.

She admitted in her floor speech that she's known about the shenanigans for years. The White House counsel assured her in 2010, she said, "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" and "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."

That is pretty stunning. She had evidence then of a possible crime, even a possible cover-up, and she kept quiet about it.

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. So do people who are still paying attention, and who still believe in the Bill of Rights.

Et tu, Mr. President?


Thanks for linking to the Henry Giroux piece Pearl. Makes me all the more honored to have been asked recently to cross-post and contribute to Truthout myself. My revised "Culling of the American Herd" from last month is running on the site now.

Bonnie said...

Wow, Karen, I'm impressed and grateful that you're on Truthout - I've read two of your articles now. It's like a good friend becoming a celebrity overnight!

Cirze said...

Probably say they're the "smartest public servants he's ever known!"

(Stolen from his Jamie Dimon quotes.)

Great reporting, Karen!

James F Traynor said...

Henry Giroux article and interview? It scared the hell out of me, because, for a long time now, I've been thinking the same thing but also thinking I was being at least a tad paranoid, so 'forgedda bout it'. The very real possibility that I'm not being paranoid is what scares the hell out of me; that goddamn monster under the bed is real.

Paul, above, was right about 'real CIA people'. They gravitate to outfits like the CIA and they're from all levels of society. They are few, but they can exert an influence far beyond their representation in the population.

Yeah, and congratulations, Karen.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Robert Scheer who controls so much of TruthDig gets on my nerves. He's another form of MSNBC, always aiming wide off the mark, usually at the Republicans or some other distraction. The only thing worthwhile on TruthDig is Chris Hedges, and it puzzles me why he doesn't take his laptop to some other blogsite.

Here's what I just posted on TruthDig following his article on Feinstein and the CIA.

Give us a break, Scheer. First of all, the headline is not “Feinstein vs the CIA.” It’s the CIA vs 300,000,000 citizens and their disappeared democracy.

Next, President Obama could release the Leon Panetta Report to the Senate Committee with a wave of his hand. Instead, his press officer talks nice about Brennan. The lesser-of-two-evils guy you encouraged us to vote for in 2012 is still the guy in charge of who is and what is in the CIA, right? Oh wait a minute –– according to the score card it now looks like the CIA calls the shots to our buck stopper, the legies and the supremes.

As for Congress, it can, whenever it is so disposed, cut off the CIA’s funding as a way of cutting this rogue agency down to size, which, as you recall was the way Congress ultimately forced Nixon and the Pentagon out of Vietnam. Power of the purse, etc., etc.

This business between Feinstein and the CIA is simply “personal.” As Committee Head Ms Feinstein’s been dissed once again and demands another apology, which is not yet forthcoming from Brennan. After which she would return to the side of the CIA as their cheerleader while it continues to grossly violate the US Constitution and international law.

Your headline and your content belong under theater reviews. When you do that, good buddy, we’re two thumbs up.

Pearl said...


Great comment about Scheer's (and others as well) article. Truth dig is not as great a website as Truthout which Karen is now submitting columns to -
Happy Day!

I was going to send in an article about what has happened to the left during Obama's tenure but found it too depressing and without a sensible
As I have said a number of times, our job is to keep writing and educating (especially those of us in contact with the younger generations) because
that is where the beginnings of change will be starting, unfortunately when
many of us will not be around, but I am seeing definite signs of this
happening which keeps me going.

I have also mentioned that the democrats are now in a dilemma regarding the Congressional election since Obamacare has divided many loyal followers
finally which not only affects the runners for office but the voters as well. I am afraid we can look forward to a worse, if possible, Congress unless some Republican renegades put some more astute people into office.

Keep all your thoughts dear friends coming. They make eminent sense. And follow Karen's future contributions to Truthout which I am so happy about.