Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Document dump fail

Senator Feinstein's statement delivered from the Senate floor on CIA's illegal hacking into Senate staff computers is worth a good look.

Basically it's a failed document dump. CIA had turned over a bunch of stuff ("millions of documents" according to Feinstein) to the Senate Intelligence Committee which was investigating so called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

On March 5, 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program. Immediately, we senta request for documents to all relevant executive branch agencies, chiefly among them the CIA.The committee’s preference was for the CIA to turn over all responsive documents to the committee’s office, as had been done in previous committee investigations.

Director Panetta proposed an alternative arrangement: to provide literally millions of pages of operational cables, internal emails, memos, and other documents pursuant to the committee’s document requests at a secure location in Northern Virginia. We agreed, but insisted on several conditions and protections to ensure the integrity of this congressional investigation

Later, CIA realized that this included their own analysis which corroborated the committee's conclusions about the torture program. So they illegally broke into the Senate computers and tried to steal the documents back.
The significance of the Internal Review given disparities between it and the June 2013 CIA response to the committee study. The Internal Panetta Review summary now at the secure committee office in the Hart Building is an especially significant document as it corroborates critical information in the committee’s 6,300-page Study that the CIA’s official response either objects to, denies, minimizes, or ignores.

Unlike the official response, these Panetta Review documents were inagreement with the committee’s findings. That’s what makes them so significant and important to protect.

When the Internal Panetta Review documents disappeared from the committee’s computer system, this suggested once again that the CIA had removed documents already provided to the committee, in violation of CIA agreements and White House assurances that the CIA would cease such activities.
Feinstein is right to be concerned.  This is Watergate level abuse of power stuff that used to seem like kind of a big deal to people.
What Feinstein didn't say—but it's surely implied—is that without effective monitoring, secret government cannot be justified in a democracy. This is indeed a defining moment. It's a big deal for President Barack Obama, who, as is often noted in these situations, once upon a time taught constitutional law. Feinstein has ripped open a scab to reveal a deep wound that has been festering for decades. The president needs to respond in a way that demonstrates he is serious about making the system work and restoring faith in the oversight of the intelligence establishment. This is more than a spies-versus-pols DC turf battle. It is a constitutional crisis.
 But for some reason,  we're not quite as meticulous about the whole secret government vs democracy tension anymore.  Wonder why that is.  Maybe it's because Dianne Feinstein has spent so much time telling people to STFU about that stuff.
Feinstein said she could not answer whether other phone companies have had their records sifted through as Verizon has.

“I know that people are trying to get to us,” she said. “This is the reason why the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counterterrorism. This is the reason for the national counterterrorism center that’s been set up in the time we’ve been active. its to ferret this out before it happens. “It’s called protecting America.”
Kinda neat the way that tune changes once they start doing it to her, isn't it?

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