Former CIA Agent Hammers Feinstein

Former CIA Agent Hammers Feinstein March 30, 2014

Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi has some choice words for Dianne Feinstein and other leaders in the legislative and executive branches who tut tut about the Bush torture regime while doing absolutely nothing to bring about justice or to reveal their own role in making it happen.

Mostly lost in translation is the fact that the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, like CIA, is also a stale bureaucracy, one largely inhabited by senators who have been in place for many years. Committee staffers reflect their sense of entitlement, believing themselves untouchable as they bask in their celebrity since 9/11. In short, they too are prone to go into self-defense mode about what they have and have not done, making Sen. Dianne Feinstein no hero for opportunistically attacking the CIA for spying on her committee. Her attempts to shift the blame for now-discredited and abhorrent activities in which her committee was almost certainly complicit are obvious, though this in no way exonerates the Agency…

The long-serving senator from California indeed has a solid record of doing absolutely nothing about torture, secret prisons, rendition, clandestine as well as open wars, domestic spying, and targeted killing drone attacks carried out by the United States government’s intelligence community, which she claims to oversee on behalf of the senior branch of the legislature. Her committee has perhaps attempted to redeem itself with its exhaustive 6,300 page report on torture, which the CIA is blocking as part of the saga on who was spying on whom, but the horse has long since escaped from the stable. The torture took place ten years ago, and no one has been punished for it. The claim that the Agency lied to Congress about the program is almost irrelevant, as Congress probably preferred it that way and would not have done anything about it in any event…

In reality, what we are seeing is two powerful vested interests in the United States government going at each other in an attempt to establish credibility and score points. They are both seeking to control the narrative that will emerge from the CIA detention and interrogation program. The Agency would like to claim that it cleared everything with the oversight committees and that the program was both legal and effective. The Senate committee prefers to demonstrate that the now-embarrassing program was ineffective and plausibly illegal because the Agency did not fully brief the committee. One suspects that the senators are conveniently suffering from amnesia when they currently claim that they were not fully informed. As often happens, back in 2003 they might have collectively decided that it was best not to know all the messy details. They are almost certainly correct in claiming that the program was completely ineffective, however, so there is considerable mud to be flung on both sides.

Curiously, neither side in the argument is even suggesting that the Justice Department lawyers, CIA senior managers, and White House officials that authorized the torture should be held accountable in any way. Also lost in the shuffle are the interests of the American people. I am sure most Americans agree that the proper role for an intelligence agency is to identify and respond to genuine threats in a measured fashion that is both appropriate to the level of the danger and, within reasonable limits, ethical. Secret prisons and torture chambers are the hallmarks of a police state, not a constitutional republic. Most Americans would probably also agree that intelligence activities should be overseen by elected officials who believe in the same thing—and that magnifying threats to make an argument for reducing constitutional liberties and committing crimes against humanity is not appropriate for any government agency.

During the Bush years, Feinstein could be counted on to be a steadfast defender of both the torture program and the development of the increasingly intrusive National Security State and the accompanying redaction of the 4th Amendment from the Constitution. She was and remains a defender of the NSA’s blatantly illegal data mining programs. Only when she found out that her staff was spied on did she suddenly become concerned about privacy.

She should have been removed as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee a long time ago. Replacing her with a Republican could hardly make things any worse, and if she were replaced by, say, Rand Paul, it would likely improve things considerably; he has at least been a consistent critic of this vast expanse of executive power.

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