President Obama has stumbled into a scandal created by his determination to protect dirty secrets on torture and other CIA crimes committed by the Bush-43 administration. The unlikely “whistleblower” is another Democratic defender of CIA abuses, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, notes Norman Solomon.
By Norman Solomon
Who knows, soon we might see headlines and cable TV shows asking: “Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?” A truthful answer to that question could not possibly be “whistleblower.”
It may already be a historic fact that Sen. Feinstein’s speech on March 11, 2014, blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.
In her blockbuster Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein — more than any other senator — has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug.
A tidy defender of the NSA’s Orwellian programs, Feinstein went on the attack against Edward Snowden from the outset of his revelations last June. Within days, she denounced his brave whistleblowing as “an act of treason” — a position she has maintained.
Snowden and other genuine whistleblowers actually take risks to defend the civil liberties and human rights of others, including the most vulnerable among us. Real whistleblowers choose to expose serious wrongdoing. And, if applicable, they renounce their own past complicity in doing those wrongs.
Dianne Feinstein remains in a very different place. She’s 180 degrees from a whistleblower orientation; her moral compass is magnetized with solipsism as a leading guardian of the surveillance state. This week, Feinstein stepped forward to tweak her tap dance — insisting that intrusive surveillance, so vile when directed at her and colleagues with august stature, must only be directed at others.
A huge problem is that for the USA’s top movers and shakers in media and politics, nothing rises to the level of constitutional crisis unless their noble oxen start to get gored. It doesn’t seem to dawn on the likes of Sen. Feinstein that Fourth Amendment protections for the few are not Fourth Amendment protections at all.
More than 40 years ago, under the Nixon administration — when the U.S. government was breaking into the offices of the Socialist Workers Party, busting into the homes of members of the Black Panther Party in the middle of night with guns firing, and widely shredding the civil liberties of anti-war activists — few among ruling elites seemed to give a damn. But when news emerged that one of the two big political parties had severely transgressed against the other with a break-in at the Watergate office of the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972, the Republican White House had gone too far.
As spring 2014 gets underway, we might be nearing a pivotal moment when major sectors of the establishment feel compelled to recognize the arrival of a constitutional crisis. Consider how the New York Times editorialized in its Wednesday edition, declaring that Feinstein “has provided stark and convincing evidence that the CIA may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were ‘far different and far more harsh’ than anything the agency had described to Congress.”
In the euphemism lexicon of Official Washington, “far different and far more harsh” refers to outright torture by the U.S. government.
At the surveillance-state garrison known as the Washington Post, where cognitive dissonance must be something fierce right now, quickly out of the box was conventional-wisdom columnist Dana Milbank, who portrayed Feinstein as a savvy and angelic force to be reckoned with. The adulatory logic was classic for journalists who like to conflate complicity with credibility.
Noting Feinstein’s record as “an ally of Obama and a staunch defender of the administration during the controversy over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs,” Milbank wrote: “So her credibility could not be questioned when she went public, reluctantly, to accuse Obama’s CIA of illegal and unconstitutional actions: violating the separation of powers by searching the committee’s computers and intimidating congressional staffers with bogus legal threats.”
News media accounts are filled with such statements right now. On the surface, they make sense — but there’s a pernicious undertow. With the underlying logic, the only time we could become sure that Wall Street malfeasance was a real problem would be if someone with the stature of Bernie Madoff stepped up to condemn it in no uncertain terms.
History tells us that we’d be deluded to depend on entrenched elites to opt for principle rather than continuity of the status quo. With few exceptions, what bonds those at peaks of power routinely trumps what divides them. It takes a massive and sustained uproar to really fracture the perversity of elite cohesion.
Consider the fact that the CIA, under the current Democratic administration, has gone to extraordinary lengths to transgress against a CIA-friendly Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, in an effort to prevent anyone from being held accountable for crimes of torture committed under and by the Republican Bush administration.
While Dianne Feinstein has a long and putrid record as an enemy of civil liberties, transparency and accountability, it’s also true that thieves sometimes fall out — and so do violators of the most basic democratic safeguards in the Bill of Rights.
Some powerful “intelligence” scoundrels are now at each other’s throats, even while continuing to brandish daggers at the heart of democracy with their contempt for such ideals as a free press, privacy and due process. The responsibility for all this goes to the very top: President Barack Obama.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.
I couldn’t agree more. BUT! There are solutions for email, data and internet security. When the servers are located in the US or Canada (i.e. Google, Yahoo, etc.) they are subject to the US Patriot Act. That means that when the government (NSA, IRS, etc.) requests information on us those companies MUST comply – and all without a search warrant. This is against the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment. Check out ForHisGlory.PrivacyAbroad.com
for established Swiss-based companies that ARE NOT under US jurisdiction! Let’s take back our Fourth Amendment rights!!
Nature of the State: The purpose of government is the control and looting of the governed.
Idiot liberals, of course want it to intrude more into peoples lives.
Wow, Bill. Did you find that quote in The Constitution of the United States? What type of Fascist system of government do you prefer?
a ploy by the dems to divert attention away from barack hussien obama
While Feinstein is complaining about the CIA she should also realize that citizens need protection too. Why is she hypocritical about her staff rights and she condemns Snowden for whistleblowing that our privacy rights are being abuses by NSA. In the meantime the truth gets stomped down and we follow her direction on what is important.
Here is a bit of news never printed before and appearing in my new book, Don’t Kill the Messenger. In the chapter 9 I expose the truthful explanation of how NSA silences whistleblowers. Russ Tice was silenced and fired after management used the NSA psychological department to make up a story about so-called made up mental problems of Mr. Tice. Using a psychologist or psychiatrist is not new in the Government and in corporations but when is the last time you heard a condemnation from a Senator about how we silence whistleblowers who go internally to report abuse. I thought the House and the Senate had investigators who were interested in the truth not burying their heads in the sand and missing a problem that is right in front of them down the road at Ft. Meade.
What Dianne “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” Feinstein is upset?
Yes, the lot of them are mendacious, treasonous abusers of power. Now they have a lover’s spat. How dramatic, like a soap opera on TV.
No worries, like the Merkel scandal, this will blow over and be forgotten soon.
Irony, hypocrisy and Orwellianisms are so commonplace now, this is almost normal.
Sarah Palin claims that, “It takes a good guy with a nuke to stop a bad guy with a nuke”. Michelle Bachman claims that, “The Tea Party is essentially an intellectual movement”. I forget which one claimed that, “If Obama is elected, Putin will invade Ukraine”. So far, Blackwater mercenaries and US Special Forces have been identified in Western Ukraine, but there is no evidence Putin has exceeded the 25,000 troop limit he is authorized to maintain by treaty agreement.
Diane Feinstein appears more than anything else to be preparing the groundwork for her Nuremberg defense should the perpetrators of our current foreign policy ever be subjected to the scrutiny of international legal proceedings. Feinstein, with that cherubic phony smile reminds me of that kid in the commercial years ago: “It’s Shake’n’Bake, and I helped”. They all seem to forget about Kosovo, where they also “helped”, not to mention Iraq, Libya, Venezuela and Honduras. “Helping” makes them accessories after the fact.
Hillary is another one: “We came, we saw, he died. Cackle,cackle,cackle.” They all seem to forget that there is a name in German which the Gestapo made famous. We learned the techniques from the Gehlen Organization. Nazi war criminals were afforded prosecutorial immunity in exchange for their intelligence expertise on the Soviet Union. The word translates to “ENHANCED INTERROGATION”. It’s Gestapo tradecraft. We borrowed that expertise too.
Now, there’s suddenly another convenient disaster in Harlem which the media will hype for weeks to distract from our sordid international politics. Don’t accuse me of conspiracy theories: I’m pretty sure Larry Silverstein abandoned the real-estate development business long ago. I take Tarpley with a grain of salt, but as Joe Tedesky points out, you gotta give the devil his due. Michelle Bachman didn’t make any accurate predictions. But Tarpley precisely predicted the current debacle which is unfolding according to the lunatic wet-dreams of Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The administration should assemble a panel of grey-haired old men and women and listen to their advice. It should include Ray McGovern, Elizabeth Warren, Stephen F. Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders and yesâ€¦even Pat Buchanan. Hillary, Diane, Michelle, Victoria, Samantha, Susan and Sarah need to attend mandatory sensitivity training which could be supervised by Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich. America needs to lose the idea that a uterus is a moral compass. It isn’t.
F.G. I to take Webster with a grain of salt, but sometimes he blows my mine with his right on comments…and the CIA vs NSA makes some real sense.
So what will Senator Feinstein do, if the CIA is guilty of torture? Will she prosecute Hayden, Cheney, or Bush? That will be the day.
My mother always warned me, how one lie just leads to another lie. My Mother didn’t know John Yoo, and his twisted way of thinking.
So just spend all the time and money it takes to investigate something that should have never have happened in the first place. Don’t worry about the American people who will take the cuts as they come.
Just protect the elites who are so much more deserving!
While on the roll,you should have included
another prime ” Ukraine ” suspect – which for obvious reasons – seems to be left out.
Some of this makes sense. Webster Tarpley has been saying, that Snowden was a CIA plant inside the NSA. Tarpley goes on to say, that the CIA is warring against the NSA via Snowden. If this is true then this story may prove that.
The elite of this country crack me up. As Mr Solomon points out, it’s okay when it’s us little people, but oh boy look out when it’s them big guns! Hypocrisy is the order of the day for our leaders. Was it ever any different? Maybe? Maybe not? I’ll let you decide that answer.