The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: Spy vs. Spy vs. The Rest of Us

Posted on: March 13, 2014

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

Good Thursday, Widdershins. I’m truly sorry for the protracted absence from the blog.  I pulled something apparently important in my back, and it has repaid me in full by gifting me with a week’s worth of spasms and sciatica.   I have spent most of it crashed on the couch with a snootful of ibuprofen and Flexeril.  I feel better, but still somewhat foggy, so please excuse me if I ramble a bit.

I looked up the stated mission of the Central Intelligence Agency , and here it is:

We are the nation’s first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go. We carry out our mission by:

  • Collecting information that reveals the plans, intentions and capabilities of our adversaries and provides the basis for decision and action.
  • Producing timely analysis that provides insight, warning and opportunity to the President and decisionmakers charged with protecting and advancing America’s interests.Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve US policy objectives.

Now, I have always heard that the CIA operated abroad, and the FBI within our borders.  Clearly, some cross-over of duties has taken place, and the Senate is quite unhappy about some of the findings.  Ordinarily, I rather like Diane Feinstein.  At this point, not so much.  For a number of years – say maybe the last ten or so – there has been whispering about both the FBI and the CIA monitoring the communications of private citizens without a warrant. Seems that our agencies could not find the time to breeze by the FISA court within the 72 hour framework and make this all legit.  Both Presidents Bush (43) and Obama reserved the right under their emergency powers to continue to do so.  Congress, if anything, sided with the Presidents on this matter. They began to mumble some when they discovered that  European heads of state were also being monitored.  It will be a long time before Angela Merkel gets over that one, and I can’t say that I blame her one iota.  It’s a miserable way to treat an ally.

Now the Senators have discovered that their communications may well have been fair game, and they are unhappy campers.  The difference between their muted response when Edward Snowden made it clear that millions of American citizens were being snooped, the somewhat more vigorous response when the European Head of State snooping was discovered, and the full on revolt in progress is nothing short of amazing.

Now, to be sure, not all Congressfolk fall into this category.  Rand Paul and Mike Lee have protested the entire surveillance program.  Richard Blumenthal even wants to reform the FISA court system. Mark Udall has condemned the whole thing roundly, irrespective of who happened to be the target.   As per usual, the liberals have consistently  stood up for us, as well as the libertarians.  As per usual, the rest of them have forgotten who they represent – other than themselves.

When Snowden first began to talk, Lindsay Graham announced that he was quite pleased to know that no terrorists were involved in his communications. Diane Feinstein offered the opinion that domestic surveillance  was “keeping us safe”, reminding me of the endless message parroting of the Bush 43 years. Things changed with the European spying, and is now at Defcon 1++ now that potential eavesdropping on Congress has been unearthed.  Suddenly, things must change, and immediate redress is in order.

To be clear, there is no allegation that members of Congress have had their personal computers/phones/whatever searched.  The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Senator Feinstein had been investigating enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the previous administration. The CIA insists that it has turned over all pertinent documents, and will be vindicated on all counts when the Intelligence Committee publishes their findings.  (Rumors say otherwise, but I digress.)  The problem apparently occurred when the Senate staffers were working in a CIA facility, and are said to have improperly removed classified documents that were outside the scope of the investigation.  Senator Feinstein claims that the CIA attempted to intimidate the Senate staffers, and  that the documents in question are indeed relevant, as they validate the committee’s conclusion that there was no information gleaned by these techniques that proved to be at all useful. Further, Senator Feinstein now charges the CIA with violating the separation of powers act, the Fourth Amendment, and the Computed Fraud and Abuse Act.

And while we are speaking about the separation of powers, McClatchy drops this on us:

WASHINGTON — The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

Is this a mess or what?  I’m certain that the CIA has done some good in its day, and that CIA employees are good people trying to do what they feel is right.  However, should these allegations prove to be true, it will further tarnish an agency that is well-known for some big-time misses.  Remember the CIA director on 09/11 mumbling something to the effect that he really hoped that this didn’t have anything to do with those guys in Florida who wanted to learn to fly, but not to take-off or land?  How about Curveball, the CIA source who confirmed the presence of WMDs?  Further back, remember that the CIA learned that the Berlin Wall was coming down by watching  CNN?

Anyhow, good for the Senate Intelligence Committee if they can get a grip on this monster, despite the entire separation of powers obstacles that appear to be increasing faster than the average virus can replicate.   I’m just sorry that they were not as concerned about our Fourth Amendment rights, and our rights under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  After all,  we are the basis of those separated powers.

This is an open thread.


20 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: Spy vs. Spy vs. The Rest of Us"

Chat, I hope, hope, hope you are feeling better. Back pain is the worst.

On subject, the CIA and the NSA for that matter, had free reign after 9/11, they had total empowerment from Dubya and the “Tail from the Crypt” Cheney. The CIA and NSA believed and may still believe they set policy as opposed to executing it — that needs to change.

If they have fired up DiFi, there must be something “bad wrong” out in Langley.

Feel better chat!! Take care of that back!

The only 4th Amendment right Feinstein cares about is her own, apparently. Shame on her for years of defending CIA and NSA’s actions and only getting mad after it affected her. What a hypocrite! The monster of their own creation is coming after them. Like Doctor Frankenstein, they learned the hard way.

And yes, the fact that Langley’s biggest cheerleader came out with a firebreathing speech like that suggests there’s a whole lot of bad going on we probably can’t even fathom.

I also wonder if the CIA learned about Russia invading Ukraine by watching CNN! They were so busy eavesdropping on Merkel’s personal phone calls they forgot about Putin.

Pardon my language here but John Brenna just picked the worst person to get into a pissing contest with. And Chambliss just needs to hush up.

@2: They seemed to totally miss the occupation of Georgia (not my home state, the OTHER Georgia) with Putin’s carve-outs apparently coming as a huge surprise to Dubya & Co.

DYB said: I also wonder if the CIA learned about Russia invading Ukraine by watching CNN!

Yeah, they kinda missed that one didn’t they? Sorta like 9/11.

From here:

Tim Weiner’s immense research reveals a startlingly consistent level of failure. The general dismay at the CIA’s failure to see the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, the invasion of Kuwait, the events of 9/11, its wholly false assessment of Saddam’s WMD and its role in the ‘rendition’ of innocent suspects implies that it has fallen from some bygone golden age. LEGACY OF ASHES makes clear that the CIA has always been a blundering, ruinously incapable organization, with each decade providing its own low points.

Hey D: were you able to make any headway with your health ins. company?

If Kerry got his dossier on Dasha from the CIA – then he might be waiting for a long time!

@8> Not much headway on health insurance company. I haven’t had time to call during business hours and they didn’t answer my e-mail (quelle surprise, as madamab would say!)

DYB: said : Not much headway on health insurance company. I haven’t had time to call during business hours and they didn’t answer my e-mail

Oh hell! 👿

I found this info on the NY State Health Exchange so maybe you can try them after work hours:

Call our help line
TTY: 1.800.662.1220

Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

You might be able to contact them after work and explain the situation. I certainly would want to keep bothering someone. 😉

off topic: Can we command *you* to leave Pat Robertson?

@12> There have been a few preachers complaining that the animated kids’ movie “Frozen” indoctrinates children to become homosexual and (of course) practice bestiality.

D@13: I saw something about that! How dumb can you get? Oh, uh, never mind.

Speaking of Frozen, if you want to Travotify your name, you can go here.

Sorry, can’t embed it. 😦

Hmmm…. My Travoltified blog name is Charlotte.

chat@16: When I did your name as two words, chat blu it came out as this:

Cian Bruwn

I did “nola fredster” and got:

Nina Farster

Cian Bruwn – how Celtic is that!

@18: Really!! 🙂

A takeoff making fun of Frozen.

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