Senator Dianne Feinstein of California must be suffering from whiplash. For months she has defended the NSA’s mass surveillance of billions of phone calls, e-mails, video chats and more, saying it safeguards the nation.
“What keeps me up at night, candidly, is another attack against the United States. And I see enough of the threat stream to know that is possible,” the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said at a policy dinner address last month.
But yesterday she decided government surveillance had gone too far. On the Senate floor, she blasted the CIA, which has been under a years-long investigation by her committee for the waterboarding of all of three terror suspects over a decade ago, and said the agency had spied… on her committee!
Feinstein accuses the CIA of violating the law and trampling on the Constitution in a covert bid to undermine the investigation: removing documents, searching staff computers and asking the FBI to investigate congressional investigators. A good Washington Post story on her broadside is here: http://wapo.st/NWvWDN And here’s a short snippet of her rant: http://bit.ly/1gksuxj
CIA Director John Brennan denies it, of course. Flatly. But he also adds a sort-of-kind-of element to it: “If I did something wrong, I will go to the President and I will explain to him exactly what I did, and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or go.”
Ah yes, President Obama: Far as I can tell, so far he and the White House haven’t responded to Sen. Feinstein’s startling charges. I am sure he takes them “personally,” as he does most things.
So, first, a question I haven’t heard asked elsewhere: Whatever the CIA did in monitoring the Senate investigation was going to be a touchy matter—would it not loop in someone at the White House? Did it? Perhaps Sen. Feinstein, a Democrat in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, should ask the Democrats in the White House about that.
But now to the main point: the hypocrisy of Sen. Feinstein, and how this latest flap reveals how government operates in Obamaland.
She is okay with all manner of government surveillance of the American people she is supposed to represent, because it’s for our own good. And she knows—she sees the threat stream! But turn a snoop loose on her, sift through a few electronic files of her staff, and suddenly we have a Constitutional crisis. As if… we didn’t up ’til now. All surveillance, like politics, is local. Surveillance of everyone else is for the common good, but surveillance of me is a violation of my rights.
It’s the way of life in Washington these days: Do as I say, not as I do. Consider:
Obamacare shall be imposed on the nation and its people penalized for not signing up, but let’s exempt dozens of unions and members of Congress and their staff. The law sets hard deadlines for when people must give up their old, now-disqualified health plans to get on Obamacare, yet the White House blithely extends the dates.
The EPA decides carbon dioxide—which we all exhale—suddenly is a dangerous substance that falls under the Clean Air Act. But it forgoes enforcing ridiculously low limits in hundreds of cases, focusing only on those it deems to be the worst.
The Justice Department keeps marijuana classified as a Schedule 1 banned substance on par with heroin, but forgoes enforcing that in California and Washington state… except when it decides otherwise.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the rapacious new scourge of banks and businesses large and small—slaps bank lending with “disparate impact” rules. In essence, if your loans result in minorities getting a lesser deal, the result alone makes you guilty of discrimination despite a lack of any evidence that you intentionally discriminated. It’s bad policy. And it would make the bureau itself guilty: The top performance rating for its staff is handed to white employees twice as often as it is given to blacks or Hispanics. A great op-ed on that hypocrisy ran in WSJ, written by a former insider at the agency: http://on.wsj.com/1ftfeqh
Don’t look for the Consumer bureau to apply its own rules to itself. This is Obamaland, where all enforcement is unequal.