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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 Senator 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 Senator 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 Obama.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Our ruling class did not write the Constitution, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, lyvwyr101, RichM

    but they have managed to delete some important parts of it.  We have given them the rope and they have assiduously applied themselves to making their own nooses.

     The surveillance state will not stand.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:31:26 AM PDT

  •  In. Dig. Nation. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, lyvwyr101

    You spied on us? That's going a little too far.  

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by voicemail on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:36:46 AM PDT

  •  The intelligence/industrial complex is... (8+ / 0-)

    ...completely out of control.  Their arrogance has finally caught up to them with DiFi.  I agree with your assessment of her, she has enabled them all this time.

    But these people have gone completely crazy and they finally stepped on a land mine.

    Obama is the CinC so he is responsible since he has the authority to control the CIA, NSA, DEA, DHS, etc.  

    Looked from a different direction, IMO, Obama is over his head.  Obama has surrounded himself with people with  allegiances to the intelligence/industrial complex (among other things) and the military/industrial complex.

    Guantanamo is still there, drones are making enemies, he ramped up Afghanistan, the disclosures revealed yesterday by the NYT yesterday based on Snowden disclosures and exposed with great analysis by bobswern paint a terrifying picture, I could go on.  

    Obama came to the WH from a background in community organizing and not from movement leadership. My point is that he is being manipulated by the shadow government.  No excuse but I just don't see him in the driver's seat.

    DiFi knows what is really happening behind the curtain and what we are seeing is an internal fight.  The one thing good I can say about her is that perhaps she draws a line when it comes to some torture and that drove the CIA top leaders mad.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:44:30 AM PDT

    •  Every word of your comment is just too damned (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lyvwyr101, Shockwave, War4Sale, phillies

      true.

      Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

      by River Rover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:47:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Eh... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, NonnyO

      We all though that there was going to be some big secretive internal struggle was going to happen when a covert agent was outed in an opinion column when her husband embarrassed the president.  Didn't happen.

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

      by RichM on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:11:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass

        That time only one CIA agent was outed by the true CinC who really was running the show.

        This time the entire CIA interrogation/torture framework was about to be exposed by a fellow traveler/spokesperson who may have a conscience after all.

        Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

        by Shockwave on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:18:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wouldn't hold my breath... (4+ / 0-)

          Call me cynical (because I am), but like I said yesterday, DiFi will most likely drop all of this if she gets an apology and some sort of statement that it won't happen again.  She has known for years what goes on in The Company.  She is just has her fee-fees hurt because they were spying on her.  She can be bought for a fairly cheap price that will cause the whole thing to go away.

          “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

          by RichM on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:25:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it is clear that the CIA has grown (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, NonnyO

            so far out of control that it will continue blundering into view and stepping on the toes of our civilian authorities (the ones ostensibly in charge).

            The deep state has grown so big that it can no longer remain invisible and hidden. It will encroach on the visible state more and more often from now on. This isn't an isolated incident--there will be more of them, and more frequently.

            "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

            by limpidglass on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:44:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Clear to whom? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Shockwave

              DiFi?  As I have said - not holding my breath.

              “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

              by RichM on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:49:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  The last POTUS to try to reign in the CIA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave

      was assassinated.  

      So, perhaps some caution on Obama's part is understandable, but that doesn't change the fact that we need a concerted effort on the part of the citizens and our representatives to reform the intelligence community.

      If we want to preserve our democratic form of government, this might be the most important issue of them all.

      Feel trickled on yet?

      by War4Sale on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:13:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Behind the curtain (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, phillies, NonnyO, War4Sale

      One thing that's got DiFi wound up is that she has thought she knew what was going on behind the curtain - but has learned that the CIA was lying to her about the extent of the torture. That means it could be lying to congressional oversight committees about just about anything.

      I doubt she was shocked by what was uncovered about the torture regime. No matter what atrocities the CIA performed, I suspect that, given her history, she would have willingly fallen in line and argued for its goodness and rightness . So long as she was granted that warm glow of knowing she was an insider.

      But the CIA violated the Prime DIrective and left her out in the dark.

      It remains to be seen whether this will become a come-to-the-4th-amendment moment for her. It could; we've seen antigay crusaders turn around when they realize their own family was being gored.There's always a choice between two responses when you realize you yourself have become the victim of policies you supported: you can expand your range of empathy, or you can insist on a double standard. The Senator could surprise us. She has friends on the committee who can take advantage of the educational moment to turn her to the Light Side.

      I'm not holding my breath exactly. But I won't be using it to shout out her infamy until she's had a few weeks to articulate her new found beefs more clearly.

    •  I agree with you about Obama... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, aliasalias

      He's in over his head.  I noted clear back in '07, '08, and in years since that he was too naive and inexperienced when he declared he was running for prez.  IMHO, he's in love with his image of himself as a "bipartisan compromiser" who tries to build a consensus..., but the BIG problem there is that the congressional Repukes trounce him virtually every time and Obama (and the majority of the congressional Dems) end up going along with the Repukes to get along, then they whine and excuse their horrible actions with such phrases 'well, this was the best we could do,' or 'the other side won't let us' - the latter being the most infuriating during the first two years of Obama's presidency when we had a Dem majority and they got nothing done.  They make themselves into doormats for the Repukes..., which makes corporations, banksters, hucksters, and Casino Wall Street types ecstatically happy... which works against the people who elected these assclowns who rarely, or never, fight for legislation on OUR behalf, but only for their big business and big banking contributors.

      One tiny clarification:

      Obama is the CinC so he is responsible since he has the authority to control the CIA, NSA, DEA, DHS, etc.
      I'm sure you know this because you've been around a long time:

      Obama (and other presidents) are head of CIA, NSA, DEA, DHS, etc., in their role as president..., not as CiC.

      Article II, Section 2:

      The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States...;

      The role of Commander in Chief is only over the military, not civilians, and only "when called."  In other words, he does not have to be called upon to be the Commander in Chief..., because only Congress (see Article I, Section 8) has the authority to declare war and finance war.

      Dumbya and Dickie and their ilk, even a few Dems, have erroneously said 'we elect a commander in chief' when they were elevating the status of president as absolute militaristic ruler (remember all the times Dumbya called himself CiC; the deserter was so proud of that title).  No, we do NOT 'elect a commander in chief.'  We elect a president who may, 'when called,' be a commander in chief over the military only (not civilians) besides being a president.  He doesn't really have to be 'called into the actual Service of the United states.'

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:46:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Um... (4+ / 0-)

    I have been a huge critic of Obama for awhile on this issue.  Probably around the time he took the oath of office.  He let the whole overzealous of the Bush intelligence community go completely unchallenged.  But I question this statement

    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.
    Obama's CIA?  Wasn't this a cover-up of the Bush years?  So now, a run-away intelligence agency is going to become Obama's legacy.  Great.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

    by RichM on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:05:46 AM PDT

    •  no one made him run for president (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, War4Sale

      If he wasn't prepared to do the job right, he shouldn't have become a candidate. It's true that JFK was killed shortly after he tried to clean house and rein in the military-industrial-espionage complex, and that none of his successors have seriously tried to reform the Deep State. But at some point, someone has to do it. Otherwise it just gets worse.

      Obama had immense popular support in the early days of his presidency--more than JFK or any Democratic president since LBJ ever had, and unlike he was dealing with a divided, totally discredited and marginalized Republican party. He could have risked a few politically difficult moves like trying to clean up the rogue elements in the national security state. Now it's way too late, and his political capital is gone.

      And sometimes the cover-up can be worse than the crime. It's never been clear what Nixon had to do with authorizing the Watergate burglary, but he's on tape ordering his people to cover it up. And that was what brought him down.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:38:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I share Mr. Solomon's outrage, but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, aliasalias

    Now that the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has finally found her sense of outrage, I suggest that all citizens who feel our intelligence community is out of control should voice those opinions to her at (202) 224-3841 or https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/...

    Yes, she's been Big Brother's chief apologist up until now and this speech doesn't whitewash any of that, but now that we have a small opening, let's push for intelligence community reform wherever we can.

    Feel trickled on yet?

    by War4Sale on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:09:25 AM PDT

  •  well, whaddaya know (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, phillies, NonnyO, War4Sale

    separation of powers finally works! I'd thought collusion between the three branches of government had reached a point where there was no daylight between them at all. But it finally seems that the president has gone too far and that Congress is trying to push back, however feebly, and assert its own prerogatives against the Unitary Executive.

    It took her own ox being gored before she started making noises about this (she's been fine with torture, drone assassination, and spying for years) but at least Feinstein's now making noises about it. Perhaps we will see some actual attempts at modest fixes, instead of the theater we were treated to before.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:20:34 AM PDT

  •  Imagine the CIA's confusion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phillies, NonnyO, War4Sale

    They have been conditioned by the rubber stamp to believe that they are beyond oversight and beyond accountability.

    Of course they believe they can traipse around inside whatever computer network or database they want to. They've only been encouraged to do so.

    "Wait, there are boundaries? Oh, the boundary is YOU?"

  •  I want to know why Feinstein would put (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias

    our Country At Risk by exposing NSA secrets.

    Why didn't she go through the proper channels, if she is truly concerned?  Isn't there a whistle blower hotline that the Executive Branch has set up somewhere, for just such emergencies where someone needs to be gagged?  I mean, heard?

    And why hasn't this enemy of America been arrested yet for exposing how our intelligence agencies gather information to keep us safe?

    Feinstein should be arrested for exposing our nation's secrets.  She took an oath and didn't use proper channels!

    Oh wait.  Silly me.  Feinstein is a member of the Power Elite, of course she won't be arrested and can say whatever she wants, proper channels be damned.

    And doesn't she realize this only hurts Obama?

    The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

    by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:02:50 PM PDT

  •  If they spy on their "friends", (0+ / 0-)

    why do we believe that they are not spying and gathering information on the rest of us.

    The CIA needs to be dismantled like the GOP proposes  for Obamacare, and start from scratch. They wont be missed during the interim, since they seem not to have been able to achieve very much toward effectively spying on our real enemies, as Rachel Maddow has so intelligently pointed out in one of her recent reports.

    These are very dangerous operators. Snowden , like it or not, has helped shine a light on just what might be essential to  save this country from a serious internal threat to our democracy.

    Snowden may be IN Russia; but we have heard more support FOR  Russia by Republicans who sit in the very halls of our own Government. Why are they not considered "traitors"?

    The GOP has done this Nation more visible harm than Snowden . Yet, it is difficult to see the harm that the CIA says he has caused.

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