How Could Dianne Feinstein Not Have Seen The Report Laying Out NSA Abuses?
from the and-yet-push-to-renew-the-law? dept
We already mentioned this in our initial post about Barton Gellman’s incredible Washington Post expose on NSA abuses, but one of the many astounding revelations was the claim that Senator Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the primary defender of the programs in the Senate, who has always tried to block or shut down any debate over these provisions, claims that she was unaware of the Inspector General’s report that highlighted thousands of abuses:
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who did not receive a copy of the 2012 audit until The Post asked her staff about it, said in a statement late Thursday that the committee “can and should do more to independently verify that NSA’s operations are appropriate, and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate.”
First of all, any statement from Feinstein arguing that her own committee should do more oversight of the NSA is startling. Remember, this is the same Senator who, during that debate over this program last year, ridiculously announced that she was going to wave the paper with the “secret” reason for why the program had to be renewed.
“I’d like to just show that classified letter, if I might. It’s classified, so I can’t read it to you. I don’t happen to have it here, but as soon as someone brings it, I will wave it for a moment so that you see it.”
And yet, now she’s claiming that she never saw the required Inspector’s General report that detailed all of these abuses? It’s not as if the existence of this report was a secret. The Justice Department issued a public announcement last November 7th, stating that this report had been completed. And, there had been some public discussion about the classified report, because (at the very least) both Steven Aftergood and Julian Sanchez have filed FOIA requests on the document. In Sanchez’s case, you may recall, he’d actually filed a FOIA request for an earlier version of the report — again, whose existence was public knowledge — and the DOJ told him it couldn’t even confirm the existence of the report. While they later admitted that was an error, they still never delivered the document to Sanchez.
Towards the end of last year, Sanchez regularly made the point that it was ridiculous that this report, which had direct information pertaining to the FISA Amendments Act, and any abuses would remain classified throughout the period of time in which Congress was debating its renewal.
And now we’re supposed to believe that Senator Feinstein had not seen this report? The report that directly assessed whether or not the program that she was the major proponent of, and whose oversight she was in charge of, had been abused? It seems rather obvious that Feinstein is either lying or incompetent here. The most charitable response would be that she or her staff didn’t actually understand what it was Gellman had asked, when he talked about the report, but even that is tough to believe.
As such, her response that her own committee needed to “do more” seems even more ridiculous. If we take her at her word, it would seem that “do more” would mean at least reading the freaking review of the very program you were defending and renewing to see the details of the program’s abuse… How can the Senate allow her to remain in charge of this committee when by her own public admission she didn’t even look at a key report over what she insisted was the key program they were renewing last year?