Thursday, July 31, 2014

Contradicting earlier claims, CIA admits it improperly accessed Senate computers

From McClatchy courtesy of Eschaton:

Feinstein called Brennan’s apology and his decision to submit the CIA IG findings to the accountability board “positive first steps.”

“This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly,” she said in a statement.

“The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March _ CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” she said.

More here.

This is an extreme cautionary tale.  Because it's not over yet.  It will never be over.  Ever.  As long as we have government intelligence agencies operating in over-the-top secrecy, we will have to worry about this shit.  And we're fools to give them more power and more secrecy just because we're afraid of the terrorists, or the Russians, or whoever the enemy du jour happens to be: we must be ever vigilant with this kind of agency because they will ALWAYS end up abusing the power we give them.

I'm not at all saying we shouldn't have agencies like the NSA or the CIA.  On the contrary, we need them.  But we shouldn't be naive about what they are and how they operate.  I mean, this CIA thing is a SERIOUS violation of the Constitution, in a very real and non-abstract way.  It was essentially the President using his own branch's power to spy on and intimidate Congress.  And then they lied about it when they were caught.  That's pretty f'd up.  It's downright stupid not to assume the NSA may very well be doing something similar--we already know, after all, that the NSA has been passing around intimate emails between deployed US service personnel and their spouses back home, also pretty f'd up; I mean, not quite the same constitutional crisis as the CIA/Congress thing, but still pretty f'd up.

A lot of Americans, who got their civics lessons from WWII movies, like to think of Snowden and Manning as traitors, or something along those lines, because everybody "knows," no doubt from watching movies, that you don't tell government secrets, or "the enemy" will mess up your delicate operations.  The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of government secrets exist because the government doesn't want citizens to know how they're breaking the law or doing other stuff they know Americans won't like.  It's not all about the "secret plans," not all about stopping the Germans from breaking the code.  I mean, some of it is, but most of it's not.

So Snowden and Manning are heroes.  There can be no doubt about this.  Both of them understand what's on the line here, police state versus free state.  They blew the whistle, and then were trashed by "patriots" who think we're all in a big war movie.  As usual, reality is much more complicated and nuanced than Hollywood fiction.  Sometimes the truly patriotic thing to do is to violate your oath for the greater good.  And anyone who denies that is a big idiot.


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