NSA Officials Admit: 'We're Screwed Now' After Feinstein's Statement

from the maybe-shouldn't-have-pushed-the-limits-so-much dept

While we’re a bit cynical about the reasoning behind Senator Dianne Feinstein’s sudden “conversion” to realizing that perhaps the NSA is out of control with its spying, and needs greater oversight and control, apparently her statement sent chills through officials at the NSA. After all, Feinstein was the strongest Senate defender of the NSA’s activities — to the point that we’d suggested in the past a somewhat co-dependent relationship. However, it sounds like she just turned on the NSA and has suggested that perhaps it needs to go to rehab. Shane Harris and John Hudson at Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog have the details:

“We’re really screwed now,” one NSA official told The Cable. “You know things are bad when the few friends you’ve got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address.”

Of course, that’s the sort of crazy hyperbole that the NSA is increasingly known for. Feinstein hasn’t “disappeared.” She’s just finally pointed out what many of the rest of us have been arguing for ages: that the NSA is out of control, going way beyond what it’s authorized to do, and has little real oversight, in part because of its regular practice of misleading pretty much everyone over the details and extent of its surveillance programs.

Even more important, the statement from that NSA official shows that they still don’t recognize what got them into this mess. If the NSA had actually been upfront about what it was doing with others, perhaps it wouldn’t find itself in this mess today. It makes you wonder if the NSA is so focused on being super secret about its operations to the outside world that it couldn’t distinguish enough about being transparent to government oversight bodies as well.

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Comments on “NSA Officials Admit: 'We're Screwed Now' After Feinstein's Statement”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Senator Spystein is just trying to save face. She never had any intention of conducting ‘real’ oversight over NSA spying, and she still doesn’t intend to provide ‘real’ oversight.

She’s just trying to save face and minimize any oversight the rest of congress is throwing at her.

This woman blatantly violated the US Constitution, her oath of office, and the American people. It’s time for her to face charges as far as I’m concerned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Words versus deeds

“We’re really screwed now,” one NSA official told The Cable.

Compare with Marcy Wheeler’s observation today over at Emptywheel, ?One Day after Rolling Out ?Comprehensive Review,? Feinstein Proceeds with Mark-Up Anyway?:

Yesterday, Dianne Feinstein announced, ?a total review of all intelligence programs ? so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community.?

Today, her committee will nevertheless conduct a mark-up of her bill to not fix the spying targeted at Americans.

Umm, given that she just admitted she doesn?t know everything the NSA has been doing ? and that she hasn?t been fully informed ? don?t you think the comprehensive review should precede the new legislation?

No, when the new legislation to codify current practice precedes the ?comprehensive review?, you know there are just different priorities at work.

Words versus deeds. Which speak louder?

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, no! It's the end of the Surveillance State!

So “we’re a bit cynical”, eh? I have more cynicism in the tip of my little finger than you ever will in entire body.

You keep running these bits of fluff as if serious.

The NSA is NOT in a “mess”. Complete lie, with clear purpose of mollifying the public.

“If the NSA had actually been upfront about what it was doing with others,” — TWO major items wrong. “Upfront” is impossible because goal of the NSA is total surveillance over at least every person in the US. (Yeah, there’s “terrorists” for excuse; my point is that’s near total lie.) — 2nd, “with others”??? Clearly, meaning other Senators, which still leaves We The People out (for reasons above).

In fact, Feinstein has NOT reversed at all; she’s an ardent supporter of the surveillance state. This is at most yet another PR item to try and persuade the public that NSA is in “a mess”. Wish you’d quit publishing such obvious CRAP; doing so can only show you’re either not exactly on OUR side, or such a wimp as no help at all.

What your editorial “we” needs say is they’re ALL in cahoots and lying, so indict, try, and JAIL.

cowardly ananonomous carpenter says:

Re: Oh, no! It's the end of the Surveillance State!

In fact, Feinstein has NOT reversed at all; she’s an ardent supporter of the surveillance state. This is at most yet another PR item to try and persuade the public that NSA is in “a mess”. Wish you’d quit publishing such obvious CRAP; doing so can only show you’re either not exactly on OUR side, or such a wimp as no help at all.

Hammer -> Nail —- Whack!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, no! It's the end of the Surveillance State!

I was about to say more or less this.

The NSA is the world’s largest and most powerful espionage agency. Why the fuck would they be afraid? It’s just propaganda.

They have near limitless power. The only way to put some fear into them is to dismantle them and put the ones responsible in jail.

Of course, that ain’t gonna happen. Politicians will be singing a different tune once a man in a dark suit pulls them to the side and shows them a sample of the dirt they have on him/her and tells them “how awful it would be if this leaked to the media”.

Either that, or the NSA will be dismantled in name only. That is, the agency NSA will dissapear, but its mission will continue to be carried on by some other agency.

The NSA isn’t going anywhere. Not with the kind of weak politicians the USA has in charge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, no! It's the end of the Surveillance State!

Finding something to harp on in every article doesn’t make you a cynic. It just makes you petty. Case in point: techdirt is so clearly anti-surveillance state with no equivocations but you keep desperately clinging to anything you can to be devise over instead of just admitting that, for once, you and Mike are on the same side of an issue. No one will think less of you. In fact some would probably think more of you.

Anonymous Coward says:

We have only heard about communication on the ground. I would think they have pointed a satellite at nearly every country in the world. Plus no doubt the most serious stuff hasn’t even been released yet I guarantee it gets worse that what has been reported. (much worse)

Do we have to start flying autonomous drones with built in imsi catchers over the NSA’s building so they get the message. Could be fun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s my theory: this is just a play, and a was planned from the beginning *together* with Feinstein.

Feinstein has done NOTHING but HELP them so far, which is a big hint that this idea of “fighting against NSA” – so they don’t spy on foreign allies’ LEADERS, is just a ploy.

They want people to think they won’t be spying on “allies” anymore, when in fact they may only give up spying on their allies ministers and prime-ministers – and that’s about it. Everyone else in those countries will still be fair game.

“Ordinary citizens” (as NSA likes to call them), CEO’s, judges, maybe even other non-executive politicians, will still be targets. But the NSA wants everyone to believe that “we’ve won”, by compromising on not spying on the executive governments.

Brazenly Anonymous says:


Feinstein’s bill is set up as a false victory over the NSA. This is readily apparent. There isn’t much chance for them to accomplish that if she appears to be on their side. This latest theater is an attempt to make her bill look like a sufficient threat to the NSA to we don’t go further and actually stop them.

The problem that they face, and why things are so blatant, is that the groups actually trying to curtail the NSA are moving things along at what is, for politics at least, a relatively rapid pace. Usually there is a little more time between a revelation and a UN proposal, and they probably thought they had until the Patriot Act came up for renewal again in Congress.

Chris Brand says:


Interesting that they use that term. Friends are people that you trust and who you expect to trust you back. They’re not the same as “managers” or overseers”, where there’s a “these are the people I work for” relationship. Friends have your back, even if you crew up. They certainly don’t check up on you to ensure that you stay within the rules they’ve established for you…

Anonymous Coward says:

She is running cover at this point. The US has gotten so many bitching about the spying events taking place that if it continues there will be few on the US’s internet links. US businesses will suddenly find closed doors to their products and services. Already I am sure there are serious rumblings from US corporations putting pressure on these politicians to do something about this.

Given all the past acts of speech, misdirection, lying, and coverup, I suspect this is political theater. Something to point to when grilled by other nations that things are changing while they remain the same.

I do not trust these politicians to suddenly develop spine where they’ve shown no previous possession of such. I will wait to see what is done as the words in the past have proven hollow.

Milt Farrow (user link) says:


Feinstein only capitulated because, the NSA got caught engaging in espionage of 16 nations, the main purpose was for commercial use of our competing industries ( spoken about frequently on cell phones) Now that channel of commercial espionage is finished , and OBAMA and the US is tarnished forever-She wasn’t concerned about “walking” all over US Citizens-she and King and several other “pukes” need to be dealt with- The entire operation needs to be shut down with charges and penalties to the culpable parties

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