Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) loves the National Security Agency’s spying so much that she routinely pens op-eds telling Americans how much safer we all are when our privacy is constantly violated. Oddly enough, after learning that the CIA did some snooping into her Intelligence Committee’s privacy, Feinstein didn’t run to The Wall Street Journal with an essay about the merits of government snooping in hand.
Instead, she has claimed that the CIA violated the 4th Amendment and various Federal laws and referred the matter to the Justice Department for an investigation that could lead to criminal charges.
A computer network set up under a 2009 agreement between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee is at the center of the current feud between lawmakers and intelligence officials. The network was created to provide a “stand-alone computer system” at a secret facility in Northern Virginia with aspects “segregated from CIA networks.”
The system was set up so that the CIA could provide the Intelligence Committee with access to millions of documents related to interrogation techniques, which the Senate was reviewing.
In January, the CIA alleged that Feinstein’s committee took certain documents from the network without permission, prompting a CIA search of the Senate computers without the lawmakers’ knowledge.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Feinstein explained why she is upset about the snooping and complained that the CIA would not answer her questions related to the search. She went on to warn of the “legal and constitutional implications of the agency’s actions.”
“Because the CIA has refused to answer my questions … I have limited information about exactly what the CIA did in conducting its search,” she said at one particularly amusing moment.
She went on to discuss the details of a letter sent to the intelligence agency’s leadership (emphasis in bold):
My letter also laid out my concern about the legal and constitutional implications of the CIA’s actions. Based on what Director Brennan has informed us, I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principle embodied in the United States Constitution, including the speech and debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function.
I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither.
Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.
The Senator is urging declassification of details related to the “un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation” carried out by the CIA.
“I believe it is critical that the committee and the Senate reaffirm our oversight role and our independence under the Constitution of the United States,” she concluded.
Of course, if Feinstein really believed anything she said, she would have begun saying these things months ago on behalf of the American people.