• CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis (if you’ll keep it)

    March 12, 2014

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America




    Even for someone cynical and jaded, it is still possible to be gobsmacked by the news. We are witnessing extraordinary events in the history of our nation.

    Speaking in reference to revelations that the CIA searched computers being used by Senate staffers, and removed documents those staffers had received from the CIA detailing its post-9/11 torture program, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein said:


    I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the Speech and Debate Clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities.

    [CIA actions] may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.

    We will bypass for now the hypocrisy of Feinstein complaining that her own Fourth Amendment rights were trod upon, given that she has until now enthusiastically supported the government’s rape of our own rights through unwarranted surveillance. There are bigger fish to fry this round.

    Torture

    As almost a side note, it is very clear now that there are things in those deleted CIA files that the CIA and the White House are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to hide. Recall that the CIA destroyed without punishment or sanction video tapes of the torture sessions.

    Feinstein said “The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detentions sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us” and emphasized that her committee’s report would detail “the horrible details of the CIA program that never, never, never should have existed.”

    It is likely the files the CIA pulled out of the Senate’s hands would reveal two presidents have lied to the world about the torture program, and that horrors beyond what we know were committed in our names. What did they do to other humans?


    Beyond Torture

    But we are past the question of torture. What is happening here is a Constitutional crisis. If Feinstein does not have CIA Director Brennan up before her Senate committee immediately, and if she does not call for his resignation and if the president remains silent (“We need to allow Justice to complete its investigation”) then we have witnessed the essential elements of a coup; at the very least, the collapse of the third of the government charged with oversight of the executive.

    That oversight– those Constitutional checks and balances– are the difference between a democracy and a monarchy. They are what contains executive power and makes it responsible to the People. But like Jenga, pull out the important one and the whole thing falls.

    A Last Question

    The only question remaining then is whether the president is part of the coup, or another victim of it. Is he in charge, or are the intelligence agencies? We may have an answer soon. CIA Director Brennan said:


    If I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him what I did and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.

    So far, the White House response has been to ignore the challenge:


    President Obama has “great confidence” in Brennan, Carney said during his daily briefing. He added that if there has been any “inappropriate activity,” the president “would want to get to the bottom of it.”

    Carney added later Obama administration lawyers were told about the CIA’s intentions to have the Department of Justice investigate Senate staffers for potentially stealing classified documents they sought to hold on to after the CIA tried to delete them but did not approve or weigh in on the agency’s decision. One must ask: why the f*ck not?

    Brennan has challenged the president to act. What the president does will tell us much about the future of our democracy. As radio host Guillermo Jimenez has said, “On this Grand Chessboard, it is We the People who are now in check. It’s our move.”




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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      The NSA and CIA should remember the Golden Rule: He who controls the gold rules. Time to cut their budgets.

      http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0609/Harman_Shut_down_domestic_spy_office.html

      03/12/14 12:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      2

      Time for calls to elected representatives. That includes Diane ‘Sell out” Feinstein’s office. I’m almost glad the CIA did it lol and got her office – thank you. Can’t make that stuff up.

      And if the agencies are doing this with this kind of case — what else have they been doing it with? Maybe time for some more attention to that break in of the lawyers office in which State whistleblowers’ information was stolen, including a computer. And it makes you wonder where else less sensitive but still important that these agencies have exerted the wrong kind of muscle??

      03/12/14 2:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      “We the People who are now in check.”

      Time to bounce some paychecks. Given their past performance, the CIA and the NSA can’t justify their budgets, much less their existence.

      03/12/14 2:33 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      4

      quote” And if the agencies are doing this with this kind of case — what else have they been doing it with? “unquote

      Jim Garrison has the answer for you..JFK. See my last comment here…
      http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2014/03/10/snowden-warns-us-of-the-dark-path-ahead/#comments

      And this part deserves repeating…

      (snip)”…The power of the states and Congress has gradually been abandoned to the Executive Department, because of war conditions; and we’ve seen the creation of an arrogant, swollen bureaucratic complex totally unfettered by the checks and balances of the Constitution. In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. …..”unquote(snip)

      Garrison saw 50 years ago what we are discovering today. And he warned us. No one paid attention.

      There is only one way to reign in this insidious Cartel called the CIA, notwithstanding the NSA.

      Gut the Central Intelligence Act of 1949.

      03/12/14 2:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...

      5

      Regarding the current president’s role, this from a comment elsewhere (sadly I have forgotten where!)

      “His award-winning marketing campaign had successfully obscured the reality that he studied the Constitution like a safecracker studies a safe.”

      03/12/14 3:40 PM | Comment Link

    • CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis (if you’ll keep it) | Beat the rich said...

      6

      [...] …read more [...]

      03/12/14 6:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Ellen Jane said...

      7

      “What the president does will tell us much about the future of our democracy.”

      Go back to school. We are not a democracy, and that was never the intention. We are a democratic republic. Democracy is mob rule. Stop spreading lies.

      03/12/14 6:45 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      8

      After reading Snowdens latest revelation on the Intercept, I don’t give a crap what these lying sacks of shit at NSA say anymore.

      https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/03/12/nsa-plans-infect-millions-computers-malware/

      By now, there SHOULD be a million or two armed and extremely pissed off American citizens surrounding WDC.

      Unfortunately, for the most part.. ‘merica is filled with numb brained halfwits who couldn’t find the United States on a map of North America nor care if the USG set up cameras in every room of their home. After all, they’ve got nothing to hide. They think.

      03/12/14 6:51 PM | Comment Link

    • Democracy Now! U.S. and World News Headlines for Wednesday, March 12 | said...

      9

      [...] CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis (if you’ll have it) [...]

      03/12/14 6:53 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      10

      I like school. You learn stuff there so I may take you up on your suggestion to go back. I understand the differences in terms (Had 8th grade civics, got a B+) but prefer for these purposes the work democracy. To me, the term holds the best of possibilities in it. I am far from optimistic if you read around this blog, but I still have moments where I try to find slivers of belief. Maybe not much more than survivors of the Titanic clinging to ice floes.

      03/12/14 8:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Bakelight said...

      11

      PVB you’re absolutely right. This is a constitutional crisis in the making. This is a threat to everyone, as Feinstein has finally figured out. Very limited coverage of this story online today. It is on the front page of the hard copy LA times. Will look around as time avails itself today. Truly scary shit.

      03/12/14 10:56 PM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...

      12

      Anyone who considers the American people a “mob” hasn’t understood the people’s constitutionally guaranteed right “to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Those who have actually gone to school and learned a thing worth knowing would use the proper phrase “lawful assembly” to characterize any group of concerned citizens no matter how large in extent, as not only contemplated by the authors of our nation’s government, but considered absolutely necessary to its proper functioning.

      As well, President Abraham Lincoln did not famously describe the American experiment in popular government as “of the mob, by the mob, and for the mob.” Someone needs a remedial education in the meaning of democracy, all right, just not the author of this blog.

      03/12/14 11:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Jonathan said...

      13

      Mr. Van Buren, so you’re claiming complicity in making the term “democracy” a meaningless warm-fuzzy word rather than anything that has to do with reality?

      In other words, you’re trying to sell any form of government as “democracy” if we only believe?

      Who are you actually running interference for?

      03/13/14 12:09 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      14

      I am currently working for an Illuminati-eBay front organization, though am always open for a higher bidder (I accept only BitCoins and live slaves as compensation.) Keep in mind that come 2016 I am already pre-booked by the Hillary campaign, though I may have time for small-scale projects. There is no truth to the rumors I work for the Cheney Foundation in their attempt to put Dick on the twenty dollar bill. They pay squat, and having to listen to Cheney’s boring torture stories over and over drags out meetings.

      FYI, I have copyrighted the term “democracy” and collect a small residual each time it is used. Be advised.

      03/13/14 12:50 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      15

      03/13/14 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      16

      Jonathan said…

      “Who are you actually running interference for?”

      Says MilProp Unit 7, computer propaganda specialist #13.

      beat it fuckface.

      03/13/14 1:37 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      17

      PVB,
      How many coups have we had in our short lives?
      Was Kennedy a coup or a simple crazed killing?
      The October surprise that was a coup thru the electoral process. GWB 2000 was in effect a coup, but everybody rolled over and played dead.
      We are so far around the bend that we can’t even look in the rear view mirror any more.
      Does the average American even care any more?
      jim hruska

      03/13/14 7:32 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      18

      “Does the average American even care any more?”

      No. Furthermore, they don’t want to hear about torture. To the “average” American, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan is some vague events, that doesn’t affect them. And that is the point of this “torture report”. Those that “legalized”, orchestrated and perpetrated these perverse, barbaric and sadistic program of rendition and torture, are, for the most part, already out of the picture. However, the CIA knows that this report would prove to the world exactly what they did,…in effect..prove they committed and are still committing WAR CRIMES..and will do anything within their power to stop this report from reaching the public’s eyes. To the point, just as Marci Wheeler predicted the day before Feinstein gave here scathing speech, now, certain people on the Intelligence committee who are pro-military/intelligence, immediately started attacking other Congress members such as Udall, for “leaking” so called classified info during Intelligence committee hearings. Bullshit. These lying bastards are simply trying to keep this report from going public, at ANY COST. They do not want this information out, as they want the whole torture debacle simply to disappear down the Memory Hole…

      http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/03/12/aspiring-senate-intelligence-chair-richard-burr-goes-after-mark-udall/

      All I know is this country is in trouble. Big trouble. Meanwhile, the average American citizen remains clueless, …just like they like it. The Dumbest Country on the Planet.

      03/14/14 1:37 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      19

      This is what America cares about.

      4th top story at this moment on Google news…

      http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1724131/lady-gaga-sxsw-performance.jhtml

      vs Snowdens latest revelation. It wasn’t even on the page. I had to make a special section for NSA.

      The Dumbest Country On The Planet.. indeed. I think I’ll add the word pathetic.

      03/14/14 2:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      20

      Pitch,

      “Pathetic” is not sufficient a word for our level of stupidity -

      http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/14/charges-unlikely-for-houston-dad-accused-shooting-daughters-boyfriend/

      03/15/14 8:16 PM | Comment Link

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