It’s a dark and quiet night on the University’s campus, until all computers flip on and their hard drives are erased. All research files and information incriminating several companies have disappeared. Sound crazy? The way you feel reading this is how Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., felt when the CIA hacked and deleted some of her committee’s files.
Last week, Feinstein — chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — made a speech on the Senate floor condemning the CIA and demanding an apology for the CIA hacking into Senate computers to delete incriminating evidence against the agency in regard to the Bush-era torture scandals.
Feinstein has been a staunch defender of the intelligence community for years. When Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s PRISM program, Feinstein was quick to defend the NSA and condemn Snowden’s action.
It is only ironic how upset Feinstein is that her Fourth Amendment right to privacy was violated by the CIA, the agency she defended, yet she had no problem with, and in fact supported, the mass Fourth Amendment violations of hundreds of millions of Americans by the NSA.
Feinstein is the head of the Senate investigation into torture by the CIA during the Bush era. The investigation didn’t start until 2009 because the Bush administration blocked it.
Feinstein claimed the CIA hacked into the Senate staff computers in 2009 and 2010 and deleted more than 870 files, documents and pages that would have incriminated the CIA.
When CIA director John Brennan was asked about Feinstein’s claim, he responded, “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean that’s … just beyond the scope of reason.”
It is insulting to the public’s intelligence to claim the CIA hacking into Senate computers is “beyond the scope of reason.”
It should have been beyond the scope of reason for the CIA to overthrow Iran’s democracy in 1953, Guatemala’s democracy in 1954, Chile’s democracy in 1973, to spy on journalists and activists in the 1960s and ’70s, to experiment on prisoners with LSD or to traffick cocaine to fund the Contras, who were accused by Human Rights Watch of raping women, executing civilians including children and attacking health clinics and doctors. So this hacking accusation isn’t too far out of the realm of reality either.
After the CIA denied the allegations, they blamed it on the IT guys. Then, they claimed the White House ordered the files to be removed, but the White House has declined to comment on the matter. Feinstein claims Brennan admitted to “searching” them.
Currently, the CIA is claiming Feinstein’s Senate Intelligence Committee should have never had access to the internal report and info in the first place. The CIA has gone to the Justice Department to see if the Senate had improperly obtained the documents and committed a crime.
Feinstein claims the CIA’s action to go to the Justice Department is a form of intimidation against those trying to investigate the CIA.
Republican Senate power brokers John McCain and Lindsay Graham claimed Feinstein’s findings are disturbing. Graham said if it is true, then it is a danger to democracy and Congress should declare war on the CIA.
I’m skeptical that McCain and Graham suddenly care about the power of the CIA and surveillance. Only time will tell if they truly do or if it is just rhetoric.
Feinstein has announced she will declassify all of her Senate committee’s documents by the end of the month. Although the leadership of the Senate seems to be leaning toward Feinstein’s concerns, it is a disturbing precedent if the allegations are true.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be the watchdogs of the intelligence community. If the people they are supposed to watch end up watching them and deleting files that would have held them accountable for crimes committed, then our lawmakers are becoming powerless to stop the runaway intelligence community.
John Dalberg-Acton said it best when he claimed “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is time to roll back the unchecked powers of the CIA.