Feinstein: I Will Investigate The NSA . . . To Protect Foreign Leaders

225px-dianne_feinstein_official_senate_photo220px-Angela_Merkel_(2008)For civil libertarians, there may be no more unsettling statements than “Dianne Feinstein is here to protect civil liberties.” Of course, it is not quite that bad. The Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been the greatest champion for the creation of the massive surveillance of U.S. citizens and effectively blocked any demand for a perjury prosecution of National Intelligence Director James Clapper for lying about the programs. She has called for the prosecution of Edward Snowden for revealing years of deceitful or false statements made to the public. She has criticized the media for disclosing information on the programs despite admissions that of unlawful conduct by the government after the disclosures. No, none of that bothers Dianne Feinstein. However, she is outraged by the monitoring of foreign leaders and promised a “total review” surveillance program.

What is striking is Feinstein’s outrage that there is a dire need for oversight after the government was given carte blanche to grab millions of emails and phone calls of U.S. citizens. Feinstein of course first moved (as have all Democratic leaders) to protect the President. There has been a full court press to maintain that Obama was entirely unaware of the surveillance — a curious position that I have previously discussed. Feinstein’s outrage appears calculated to support that new spin. She has said Obama’s lack of knowledge is a “big problem.” She added “The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support.”

Continuing to refer to the widely ridiculed secret court as legitimating the massive surveillance of all citizens, Feinstein says that this is a problem because it was not carried out under such claims of oversight: “Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed.”

By the way, you will note that, as usual, Feinstein is not particularly concerned about average people or their rights. It is the leaders (like herself) that concerns her: “Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.”

Feinstein’s outrage therefore seem a bit forced . . . much like her concern over the regulation of drones. Clearly, the prior effort to shrug off the surveillance or even to embrace it has not gone over well. The alarm raised by Feinstein comes right on cue as the White House struggles to assure allies that Obama is not personally responsible for what his government does. It is the only avenue around the growing international crisis: the ole plausible deniability. The abuses would be officially attributed to faceless functionaries acting on their own. While that may not make a lot of sense since this intelligence had to have been shared at the highest levels, it allows people like Feinstein to implement meaningless investigations while the intelligence community burrows deeper out of the public eye. It would simply have been more plausible with someone who has shown a modicum of concern for civil liberties in the past. The current security state was created with the enthusiastic support of Feinstein and other members who have shown little inclination or interest in serious oversight.

And so the narrative is set. The surveillance of Merkel was an over-zealous group of spies and has left American leaders perfectly horrified and disgusted . . . and all will be made well by Dianne Feinstein.

Source: The Hill

66 thoughts on “Feinstein: I Will Investigate The NSA . . . To Protect Foreign Leaders”

  1. DiFi Fake FISA Fix Explicitly Allows Contractors to Conduct Suspicionless Searches on US Person Data

    Posted on November 14, 2013 by emptywheel

    – See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/11/14/difi-fake-fisa-fix-explicitly-allows-contractors-to-conduct-suspicionless-searches-on-us-person-data/#sthash.rlqSzY2G.dpuf


    “The NSA just had a contractor walk off with unbelievable amounts of data.

    And the Senate Intelligence Committee’s response to that is to explicitly give contractors the authority to conduct suspicionless searches through vast quantity of data to access and read the content of US person data, with no reporting requirements.

    I guess when they named this the “intelligence” committee they were just making an elaborate joke.”

    (See comments highlighted by Marcy W.: http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/11/13/if-the-executive-had-followed-clear-minimization-requirements-of-patriot-dragnet-abuses-might-have-been-avoided/#comment-653735)

  2. ap,
    Feinstein is dirty and the NSA and the CIA are abusing the constitution. When will Congress actually take control?

  3. Feinstein shows off NSA “reform” bill that’s really about the status quo
    A battle is brewing in Congress between surveillance reformers and hawks.

    by Joe Mullin – Oct 31 2013, 7:51pm EST


    “Capitol Hill showdown brewing on surveillance

    In introducing the bill, Feinstein reiterated there’s essentially nothing wrong with the current situation. “The NSA call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight, and I believe it contributes to our national security,” she said. “But more can and should be done to increase transparency and build public support for privacy protections in place.”

    Feinstein’s statements about the bill make it sound reform-ish, but when closely read, it mainly constitutes re-iterations of the status quo. For instance, the bill “prohibits the bulk collection of the content of communications under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act” (no emphasis in original). The NSA and its defenders, including Feinstein and President Barack Obama, have already stated repeatedly that they don’t gather content.

    The legislation would also “prohibit the collection of bulk communication records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act except under specific procedures and restrictions set forth in the bill.” In other words, it forbids the collection of data unless it’s collected in a way that the intelligence committee approves of—essentially the same thing that’s been happening for years.

    The bill includes other safeguards and reporting requirements, most of which are already in place, such as limiting the number of contacts or “hops” that an analyst can get when querying bulk communications.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee passed the bill out of committee on an 11-4 vote earlier today—a vote held in a secret, closed session.

    There seems to be a showdown brewing between surveillance hawks and reformers in Congress. Both sides cross party lines in unexpected ways, and it isn’t clear which side will prevail. Sensenbrenner’s bill has become quickly popular, yet the Senate Intelligence Committee clearly has a strong majority in favor of these programs. Similarly, when General Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came to Congress for a hearing on Tuesday, top members of the House Intelligence Committee mostly showed support for their actions. The recent tone suggests that intelligence committees in both houses may be out of step with the sentiment elsewhere in Congress.”

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