Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Sen. Feinstein Goes after the CIA for the Wrong Reasons


Of all the people to come to the rescue of the Constitution, who would have thought it would be Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA).

Feinstein, after all, as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2009, has yet to see an NSA violation of the Constitution, an invasive spying program or a creative “re-interpretation” of the law that she hasn’t applauded as being lawful and “needed” to “keep people safe.”

Feinstein, too, was one of the first to fly into paroxysms of outrage at National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, absurdly condemning him for being a “traitor,” though she surely knows that the Constitution very narrowly defines treason as “levying war” against the US, or providing “aid and comfort to the enemy.” As Snowden surely did not “levy war” against anyone but perhaps the NSA, and even according to the government did not provide any information to America’s “enemies” (whoever that may be in today’s unipolar world, while he may have “stolen” NSA information, he didn’t by any stretch, commit “treason.”

Feinstein, lastly, in her position as chair of the Senate Military Construction and Appropriations Subcommittee, grew rich thanks to military contracts directed to her husband [1], private equity and real-estate tycoon Richard Blum. (It wasn’t just military contracts either. He also managed to get to get the contract to manage the private sale of all the Postal Service properties being unloaded in tCongress’s ongoing dismantling of the national mail system.)

That is to say, this is a woman who clearly puts herself and her need for money (she’s reportedly worth over $80 million, though for most of her life she has done nothing but work as a salaried politician) first and the needs of her country somewhere way down near the floor. (Maybe that’s why she can’t understand Snowden, who put his life on the line for a principle, and not for personal gain — something that’s probably beyond Feinstein’s comprehension.)

And yet after years of CIA criminality, including torture of terror suspects, even those against whom there was no evidence, lying to Congress, and manufacturing of evidence that led to the disastrous and criminal invasion of Iraq — for all which there were no consequences in the Congress or in her Senate committee — it was Sen. Feinstein who finally called out the CIA for spying and lying.

We’d be excused, I presume, for pointing out that there is an element of self-interest here, or at least of wounded ego. While her surprise address in the well of the Senate earlier this week denouncing the Agency did refer in high-minded terms to the CIA’s having “possibly” violated the Fourth Amendment with its proscription against warrantless searches and seizures, and of its having trashed the concept of Congressional oversight and the sacred concept of tripartite government, it is really a matter of her own ego that was stepped on that set her off.

Feinstein, after all, has never complained about the many other times, particularly over the last 14 years or so, that the CIA has trashed the 4th Amendment or the law of the land. Only now, when she learns that the Agency’s spooks raided her own Intelligence Committee’s computers and deleted incriminating files about its torture program, and then asked the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against her staff members for removing files from a CIA-provided “safe room” at its headquarters to a real safe room in the Senate Office building, did the Agency’s actions in her view rise to the level of a Constitutional crisis.

But there it is. The senator who, as the main person responsible for oversight of the National Security State has been a rank apologist for its worse abuses, and an advocate for the NSA’s wholesale program of spying on the American people, is now concerned that the CIA has been spying on her and her committee.

John Stewart put it best [2], when, channeling the late great George Carlin, he said, “I see, our stuff is just s**t, but her s**t is … stuff!”

The irony is rich, but I doubt that much will come of this dust-up.

Sen. Feinstein and her husband Blum, already one of the wealthiest power couples of the Senate, still have much money to earn by leveraging her committee positions in Congress.

Clearly, she has an ego though, and is at the moment is on the warpath.

I suppose if CIA Director William Brennan continues to act like the wronged partner, implying that Sen. Feinstein is off her nut, she could escalate her rage and drag him into a Senate hearing room under oath to humiliate him, which would be truly entertaining. But she’s unlikely, judging by her record of fealty to the Intelligence Establishment, to do anything serious, like lock the bastard up for lying to, or hiding evidence from Congress. this is what should happen, and what her committee should have done long ago to Brennan’s boss, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who famously stated under oath to her committee, in response to a direct question from committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the NSA was “not spying on American citizens.”

The only hope at this point is that California voters will finally decide, when she comes up for re-election again way off in 2018, that they’ve had enough of this wretched and hypocritical senator, and that they’ll drag her and her oligarch husband away from the trough where they’ve been feeding for far too long.

Meanwhile, maybe a few of the less corrupt members of the Senate could pick up where her bruised ego left off, and demand a serious investigation into the CIA’s and NSA’s many crimes against the people of the US and the world.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”