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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.

Kiev protesters expand street barricades – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Kiev protesters expand street barricades – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Ukrainian protesters have erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building, fuelling tension after the failure of crisis talks with the president, Viktor Yanukovich.In response to opposition calls, about 1,000 demonstrators moved away from Kiev’s Independence Square in the early hours of Friday and began to erect new barricades closer to the presidential headquarters.

Masked protesters, some carrying riot police shields seized as trophies, stood guard as others piled up sandbags packed with frozen snow to form new ramparts across the road leading down into the square.

After leaving a second round of talks with Yanukovich empty handed late on Thursday, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko voiced fears the impasse could now lead to further bloodshed.

After speaking first to protesters manning the barricades, Klitschko then went to Independence Square where he declared: “Hours of conversation were spent about nothing. There is no sense sitting at a negotiating table with someone who has already decided to deceive you.”

Klitschko had earlier brokered a truce in the violence between protesters and police, and the ceasefire appears to be holding so far.

A group of protesters took control of the main agricultural ministry building in the centre. “We need the place for our people to warm up,” a local protest leader was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Meanwhile, protesters near Dynamo Kiev football stadium, the new flashpoint in the city, cranked up their action, setting tyres ablaze again and sending a pall of black smoke over the area.

There were no signs that protesters were heeding an appeal from general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka who said early on Friday that those so far arrested would be treated leniently by the courts if protest action was halted.

At least three protesters have been killed so far after clashes between protesters and riot police.

East-West tensions

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in the capital after Yanukovich backed away from signing a free trade deal with the EU, which many people saw as the key to a European future, in favour of financial aid from Ukraine’s old Soviet master Russia.

But the movement has since widened into broader protests against perceived misrule and corruption in the Yanukovich leadership.

Protesters have been enraged too by sweeping anti-protest legislation that was rammed through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists in the assembly.

Earlier on Thursday, Yanukovich had suggested he might be prepared to make concessions to the opposition when he called for a special session of parliament next week to consider the opposition demands and find a way out of the crisis. But this did not impress opposition leaders.

Underlining the level of mistrust between the government and opposition, the prime minister Mykola Azarov on Thursday accused protesters of trying to stage a coup and dismissed the possibility of an early presidential election.

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.

And Now Talking Back The Talking Back As Carney Says Obama Will Seek Support For Strikes Tonight | Zero Hedge

And Now Talking Back The Talking Back As Carney Says Obama Will Seek Support For Strikes Tonight | Zero Hedge.


Obama Administration To Release “Proof” Of Assad’s Culpability As Early As Thursday | Zero Hedge

Obama Administration To Release “Proof” Of Assad’s Culpability As Early As Thursday | Zero Hedge.

US To Send Four F-16s To Egypt | Zero Hedge

US To Send Four F-16s To Egypt | Zero Hedge.


Obama Administration Seeks to Ease Tensions Over Snowden – Bloomberg

Obama Administration Seeks to Ease Tensions Over Snowden – Bloomberg.

US unveils new sanctions against Iran – Americas – Al Jazeera English

US unveils new sanctions against Iran – Americas – Al Jazeera English.


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