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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : If Spying on Senate is So Bad, Why is it OK For Them To Spy On Us?

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : If Spying on Senate is So Bad, Why is it OK For Them To Spy On Us?.

written by ron paul
sunday march 16, 2014
Ronpaul Tst

The reaction of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to last week’s revelations that the CIA secretly searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers reveals much about what the elites in government think about the rest of us. “Spy on thee, but not on me!”

The hypocrisy of Sen. Feinstein is astounding. She is the biggest backer of the NSA spying on the rest of us, but when the tables are turned and her staff is the target she becomes irate. But there is more to it than that. There is an attitude in Washington that the laws Congress passes do not apply to Members. They can trample our civil liberties, they believe, but it should never affect their own freedom.

Remember that much of this started when politicians rushed to past the PATRIOT Act after 9/11. Those of us who warned that such new powers granted to the state would be used against us someday were criticized as alarmist and worse. The violations happened just as we warned, but when political leaders discovered the breach of our civil liberties they did nothing about it. It was not until whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others informed us of the abuses that the “debate” over surveillance that President Obama claimed to welcome could even begin to take place! Left to politicians like Dianne Feinstein, Mike Rogers, and President Obama, we would never have that debate because we would not know.

Washington does not care about our privacy. When serious violations are discovered they most often rush to protect the status quo instead of defending the Constitution. Senator Feinstein did just that as the NSA spying revelations began to create pressure on the Intelligence Community. Her NSA reform legislation was nothing but a smokescreen: under the guise of “reform” it would have codified in law the violations already taking place. When that fact became too obvious to deny, the Senate was forced to let the legislation die in the committee.

What is interesting, and buried in the accusations and denials, is that the alleged CIA monitoring was over an expected 6,000 page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the shameful and un-American recent CIA history of torture at the “gulag archipelago” of secret prisons it set up across the world after the attacks of 9/11. We can understand why the CIA might have been afraid of that information getting out.

When CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou exposed the CIA’s role in torturing prisoners he was sent to prison for nearly three years. But Senator Feinstein and her colleagues didn’t lift a finger to support him. So again you have the double standards and hypocrisy.

The essence of this problem has to do with the difficulty in managing the US empire. When the government behaves as an empire rather than as a republic, lying to the rest of us is permissible. They spy on everybody because they don’t trust anybody. The answer is obvious: rein in the CIA; remove its authority to conduct these kinds of covert actions. Rein in government. Lawmakers should not defend Fourth Amendment rights only when their staffs have been violated. They should do it all the time for all of us. The people’s branch of government must stand up for the people. Let’s hope that Sen. Feinstein has had her wake-up call and will now finally start defending the rest of us against a government that increasingly sees us as the enemy.

Dianne Feinstein: CIA May Have Broken The Law To Spy On Senate Staff

Dianne Feinstein: CIA May Have Broken The Law To Spy On Senate Staff.

Posted: 03/11/2014 10:47 am EDT Updated: 03/11/2014 1:59 pm EDT

 

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) delivered a devastating broadside against the CIA Tuesday, alleging that the agency was trying to intimidate Congress and may have broken the law in spying on Senate staffers.

Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was responding to CIA charges that Senate staffers had hacked CIA computers to learn that the spy agency was in fact spying on the people charged with overseeing its activities. Those revelations surfaced last week, prompting the countercharge against the CIA and a CIA complaint to the Justice Department.

But Feinstein, who is often a strong defender of the intelligence community, hammered the agency in a morning Senate floor speech, saying that the CIA knew of every step the Intelligence Committee staffers took and that the CIA provided all the documents that the agency later questioned.

To allege that staffers may have broken the law was dishonest, she said, and smacked of an attempt to bully civilians responsible for checking agency abuses.

“Our staff involved in this matter have the appropriate clearances, handled the sensitive material according to established procedures and practice to protect classified information, and were provided access to the [documents] by the CIA itself,” Feinstein said. “As a result, there is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime. I view the [CIA’s] acting general counsel’s referral [to the Justice Department] as a potential effort to intimidate this staff, and I am not taking it lightly.”

Feinstein also rattled her own saber, noting that the CIA official who referred the matter to the Justice Department was himself at the center of the very CIA interrogation techniques her committee is currently investigating. The Intelligence Committee has prepared a secret, 6,000-page report on the agency’s interrogation programs that is expected to outline a number of illegal activities and bring into question the value of such programs.

The remarkable flare-up stems from an agreement between the CIA and the committee that the agency could monitor the committee’s use of the agency’s computers, which were provided to Senate staffers in a secure room at the CIA. Staffers were able to analyze millions of documents on the computers in order to create the report on CIA interrogation techniques.

Feinstein also said Tuesday that she is pushing the White House to find a way to release that classified 6,000-page report so that the public can learn what the CIA has done in its name.

“I have asked for an apology, and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by this oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither,” Feinstein said. “Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA search may have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as [an executive order], which bars the CIA from conducting domestic surveillance.”

Feinstein added that the CIA’s inspector general, David Buckley, has referred the CIA’s actions to the Justice Department for investigation.

The DOJ and CIA could not immediately be reached for comment. A CIA spokesman deferred comment to CIA Director John Brennan, who was expected to speak at 11 a.m. EDT.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m. ET — Brennan later adamantly denied that the CIA had broken any laws, but allowed that all the facts were not yet out.

“As far as allegations about CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. That’s just beyond the scope of reason,” Brennan said, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations.

But pushed by NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, who was moderating the event, Brennan admitted that there was considerable doubt about what has happened.

“Appropriate authorities right now, both inside of CIA as well as outside of CIA, are looking at what CIA officers as well as what [Senate] staffers did,” Brennan said. “I defer to them.”

Asked what he would do if Feinstein’s allegations prove true, Brennan demurred, and suggested lawmakers should cool down.

“I will deal with the facts as uncovered in the appropriate manner,” he said. “I would just encourage members of the Senate to take their time, to make sure that they don’t overstate what they claim and what they probably believe to be the truth. These are some complicated matters.”

He left whether or not he should keep his job to President Barack Obama.

“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 go,” Brennan said.

The 6,000-page report is extremely sensitive to the intelligence agency, and advocates of publicizing the report have accused the CIA of dragging its feet.

Brennan denied any intentional delays as well.

“We are not in any way, shape or form trying to thwart this report’s progression or release,” he said. Admitting that practices such as waterboarding — which Obama has banned — represent a dark chapter in the CIA’s record, he added, “We want this behind us.”

UPDATE: 1:51 p.m. — Asked later about Brennan’s pushback and how the facts of the dispute might ultimately come out, Feinstein stood her ground. “The facts just did come out,” she told several reporters on Capitol Hill.

UPDATE: 1:56 p.m. — White House press secretary Jay Carney later ducked the issue, reiterating that the investigation falls to the CIA’s inspector general.

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.”

Read Feinstein’s speech in full here.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Mark Udall Demands CIA Report Amid Dispute Over Torture Study

Mark Udall Demands CIA Report Amid Dispute Over Torture Study.
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – A member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday disclosed the existence of a secret Central Intelligence Agency document that committee members believe supports their conclusions in a study highly critical of “waterboarding” and other harsh counterterrorism practices.

Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, demanded the document – a CIA study of the interrogation techniques – at a confirmation hearing for Caroline Krass, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the CIA’s general counsel.

Udall said he would not support Krass’ nomination until the previously undisclosed document was provided, raising the possibility that he might use a “hold” to stop the nomination.

The intelligence panel’s disagreement with the CIA over its 6,300-page report and the need for cooperation with Congress were a major focus of Tuesday’s hearing, which also covered the nomination of Daniel Smith to be assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.

The dispute over the report – and revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden about sweeping electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency – have sparked debate over whether congressional oversight of U.S. spy agencies is effective enough.

The Senate panel approved a draft of its report a year ago. But the CIA disputes many of its findings and has not met lawmakers’ requests that parts of it be made public, leaving some senators frustrated at what they see as a lack of cooperation.

During the hearing, Krass told Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the committee, that she did not believe members of the Senate panel had the right to see documents that provide the legal basis for CIA actions, such as waterboarding.

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said she was “troubled” by Krass’ answer.

‘FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS’

Udall asked Krass to ensure that the CIA provide the committee a copy of the internal review initiated under former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the agency’s detention and interrogation program.

“It appears that this review … is consistent with the Intelligence Committee’s report, but, amazingly, it conflicts with the official CIA response to the committee’s report,” Udall said.

“If this is true, it raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago and never provided to the committee is so different from the CIA’s formal written response to the committee’s study,” he added.

The report’s existence was not public knowledge until Udall questioned Krass during the hearing.

Committee Democrats have concluded that the CIA obtained little or no critical intelligence from its use of secret prisons and harsh interrogation. Several panel members offered tough criticism and closely questioned Krass over her view of such techniques.

“It (the use of such techniques) was a tragic mistake of great significance in the history of this country,” West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller said.

Krass said she considered waterboarding to be torture.

Udall said he also wanted the White House to make a public statement committing to “the fullest possible declassification” of the committee’s study, and the CIA’s response, before he could support Krass’ nomination.

Asked if Udall would use a hold, his spokesman Mike Saccone said the senator was committed to working with the committee and the CIA on the nomination and to get the information he requested.

But Saccone added: “He will have a full range of procedural tools to pick from to accomplish this objective.” (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

False Alarm: Obama Will Continue Spying On “Allies” After All | Zero Hedge

False Alarm: Obama Will Continue Spying On “Allies” After All | Zero Hedge. (source)

In a dramatic change of events that is a) sure to not win the administration any goodwill point with the citizens of the free, or enslaved, world or their insolvent leaders so desperately reliant on the US for day to day funding, and b) will confirm the state of complete policy chaos that is at the core of the Obama administration’s handling of the ObamaPhone spygate (where for some reason the fact that the US spied on foreigners, as it should, has taken far more precedence over the NSA intercepting and recording each and every domestic communication, with neither checks nor balances), the earlier reported news originating from the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein, who said that “the White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support” was a fabrication.

Instead, as The Hill reported shortly thereafter,  “A senior administration official on Monday rejected Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein’s claim that the U.S. has halted intelligence collection against its allies. In a statement released earlier Monday, the California Democrat said that the White House “has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue.”  But the administration official called that statement “not accurate.” In other words, the situation surrounding Obama’s global Watergate hotel, has devolved to a state where the executive and the Chair of the Legislative’s intelligence committee are not even able to communicate in order to get their story straight about lying what the US will and won’t do in the future. Because, needless to say, any promise that the US won’t do what it obviously will continue doing as there is absolutely no downside to doing so, is merely the latest lie in long and illustrious chain of seasonally adjusted truths.

From The Hill:

While we have made some individual changes, which I cannot detail, we have not made across the board changes in policy like, for example, terminating intelligence collection that might be aimed at all allies,” the administration official said.

And then the confusion and backtracking began:

After the administration’s statement, a spokesman for Feinstein clarified that the senatorintended to say that the U.S. was ceasing “collection on foreign allied leaders.”

Feinstein also said that it was her understanding President Obama “was not aware” the U.S. had been monitoring the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Obama first learned of the program, which apparently began in 2002, during an internal audit of intelligence practices this summer.

Why do we know Obama is “not” lying? Because he had no comment.

In an interview Monday afternoon with Fusion, the president refused to comment when asked about when he became aware of the surveillance.

What we do know, is that Obama no longer has a direct feed to Merkel’s cell phone. Whatever that means:

The administration has announced at least one determination, however. White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama assured Merkel in a private phone conversation that the administration was not currently monitoring her cell phone, nor would they do so in the future.

All the BS aside, in retrospect if indeed the NSA, being a government agency, does its job with the “efficiency” with which the government makes up lies on the fly, then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. For either the allies of the US, as long as that special status continues, or the billions of electronic communications intercepted among US citizens each day.

White House To Stop Spying on Allies, Dianne Feinstein Promises | Zero Hedge

White House To Stop Spying on Allies, Dianne Feinstein Promises | Zero Hedge. (source)

Continuing to play Obama like a fiddle, the Snowden revelations have done more to change US foreign policy in a few short months, than all laws passed since the advent of the Patriot Act. In the latest example of just this, moments ago, USA Today first and the WSJ and others subsequently, reported that according to Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an NSA supporter, the National Security Agency has stopped gathering intelligence on allied political leaders, a practice that has drawn global criticism. “The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,” according to Feinstein. It was not immediately clear if this is an implicit admission that the White House actually did know about the NSA’s spying on foreign leaders over the past decade, and lied about being unaware. Recall that Obama denied just this last night, but at this point the pit of lies is so deep, few actually care or are keeping track.

Ironically, in an attempt to redirect once again, Feinstein “criticized President Obama over reports he only recently learned about the monitoring that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002,” she said. “That is a big problem.” Don’t worry Dianne, he knew everything, but an autocrat-in-waiting has to lie do what an autocrat-in-waiting has to lie do.

From USA Today:

As a growing chorus of nations protest U.S. surveillance policies, Obama’s spokesman said Monday that an ongoing review will address the concerns of allies.

The review of NSA programs is designed to insure that intelligence gathering protects “both the security of our citizens and our allies and the privacy concerns shared by Americans and citizens around the world,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Administration officials refused to comment on a report indicating that Obama learned only this year about a program that monitored the communications of foreign leaders — a situation that wouldn’t be particularly unusual, said an intelligence expert.

Paul Pillar, a former senior intelligence officer, said most presidents don’t know about “the targeting decisions” made by their intelligence agencies.

It would be a horrible drain on the president’s time and attention,” Pillar said.

So instead the president can focus all his time and energy on creating 40-ing websites and taking over the public healthcare system?

As reported earlier, Spain was the latest country to be exposed as having been the target of the NSA’s extensive espionage (at a massive cost to US taxpayers), resulting in just the latest ambassadorial summoning. Which of course was merely more theater, set in motion merely to appease the locals.

Pillar said it’s not the tactics themselves that create international friction as much as the fact that they have now been publicized.

“Not only do allies spy on each other all the time, allies know about it all the time,” Pillar said.

Normally, he said, nations that discover surveillance from other countries would tighten their security procedures and not make “a public stink” about it.

But the news coverage – inspired by the Snowden revelations and fueled by outrage from their domestic constituents – forces leaders to confront the United States.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Germany, where memories of the nation’s Cold War divisions remain fresh. That includes domestic spying by police forces in Communist-run East Germany – the native region of Chancellor Merkel, an outspoken critic of NSA tactics.

“Their history is speaking very loudly to them,” said Heather Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe Program with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Conley and Pillar said intelligence agencies do gather information on each other, on items ranging from positions on trade negotiations to the political troubles of the targeted government.

The difference these days? “It’s a public discussion,” Conley said.

Precisely. Because the public has had enough of governments scheming behind their backs, always to the detriment of common people. And the person to thank for all of this is none other than Edward Snowden, who instead of being praised as a hero in his home country, has been forced into exile into the country that once upon a time was the “evil empire.” How the times have changed in the despotic New Normal.

As for Feinstein’s promise that the US will stop spying either on foreign leaders, or domestically, that is about as good as any other promise made by an insolvent empire in full decline.

 

Fact Or Fiction: NSA Unveils “Internal Patriot Discovery” Protocol | Zero Hedge

Fact Or Fiction: NSA Unveils “Internal Patriot Discovery” Protocol | Zero Hedge. (source/link)

Rather than go to exhaustive lengths identifying the “terrorists,” we identify (based on every piece of data you have ever touched in your life) the ‘patriots’ and thus, by process of elimination find the real terrorists…

VIDEO

 

NSA Tapping Internet Backbone, and Spying On (and Graphing) Our Social Networks | Washington’s Blog

NSA Tapping Internet Backbone, and Spying On (and Graphing) Our Social Networks | Washington’s Blog.

 

U.S. ‘Homeland’ Includes Canada And Mexico On NSA Map (PHOTO)

U.S. ‘Homeland’ Includes Canada And Mexico On NSA Map (PHOTO).

 

Drones Are Used For Domestic Surveillance, FBI Director Admits | Zero Hedge

Drones Are Used For Domestic Surveillance, FBI Director Admits | Zero Hedge.

 

Is It More Treasonous To Violate The Constitution Or To Expose Those Violations?

Is It More Treasonous To Violate The Constitution Or To Expose Those Violations?.

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