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?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Again...

    Have all of Feinstein's opponents been so horrid that people continue to vote for her or something?

    Anyone who lives in the state she's from wanna tell me who she went up against last time?

     

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      Jay (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 9:03am

      Re: Again...

      The sentiment was against the Republicans last time, especially in California. She was in a massive blue district and people played party politics.

      So she got re-elected for "her team" so that Democrats don't lose the senate.

      I just wish we could implement Duverger's law and have more options than red or blue...

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 9:25am

      Re: Again...

      Have all of Feinstein's opponents been so horrid that people continue to vote for her or something?


      More or less. It's been a long long time since there was any serious opposition. Last time around she won 63 / 27.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:12am

        Re: Re: Again...

        Having a Republican run against her would be futile. What is needed is a challenge in the primary. Surely there are enough Democrats out there who don't want to put up with this sort of thing.

         

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          Michael, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Again...

          Yeah - and the NSA already has teams raiding their houses.

           

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          Drew, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Again...

          We have a blanket top-two primary now, so it is possible for two candidates in the same party to win the primary and compete in the general election. However, because seniority is so valuable in Congress, especially in the Senate, the Democrats will likely protect Feinstein so long as she is a candidate.

           

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      Drew, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:40am

      Re: Again...

      She's so entrenched the Republicans usually just send a token challenger. In 2012 the candidate was Elizabeth Emken, who has never held any political office. The vote was 62.5% to 37.5%.

       

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        Yoshord, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 3:49pm

        Re: Re: Again...

        If a token effort can obtain 37.5% of the vote, surely a decent challenge would be worth the Republican's time; party lines aren't that strong, I hope.

         

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      Aaron T, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:53am

      Re: Again...

      Here ya go: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/dianne-feinstein-election_n_2049522.html

      Long story short, Feinstein like Boxer & Pelosi have tons of $$$ and name recognition. The Democratic party prevents any internal competition for their seats since both sit on powerful committees in the Senate (or House in the case of Pelosi) and would likely loose those seats if they were replaced. Pelosi got 85% of the popular vote last election since she's a liberal democrat who's district is basically San Francisco.

      The Republicans know that winning the election is slim-to-nil because most people in the state are Democrats and vote down party lines. So they end up finding candidates with very little political experience who have lots of their own money to burn trying to get elected because experienced politicians would rather fight for a seat they have a chance of winning.

      This is why you see ex-HP CEO Carly Florina running against Boxer, ex-Ebay CEO Meg Whitman vs Brown for governor and Elizabeth Emken (a virtual nobody) running against Feinstein. Emken didn't even have her own personal fortune to spend the kind of money to even begin to compete against Feinstein to have a chance to get the cross over vote.

      Hooray for our 2 party system and privately funded elections!!

       

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      Phoenix84 (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:36am

      Re: Again...

      I think the people in her (my) state just don't care.
      They see a name they recognize and pick it.
      I'm starting to think letting ignorant people vote is worse than not letting them.
      Forget this 'right to vote' garbage. You need to show at least some semblance of intelligent political thought before being allowed to vote. Not just, "Should I check the top box, or the bottom?"
      Otherwise you end up with this situation.

      Anyway to answer the article's question: She's blind, deaf, and dumb. That's how.

      I just hope this situation finally gets her thrown out of office. Wishful thinking, I know...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

      Re: Again...

      The Democrats could run a turd sandwhich in that district and when by a 2/3rds majority. The two-party system does its job.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

      Re: Again...

      Basically, Yes.

      Feinstein hates civil liberties. She always has and always will. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the NSA told her everything and she helped cover it up.

      In California the republican party is basically controlled by a few extreme right wing areas in Southern California. They usually insist on nominating someone who things Rush Limbaugh is a liberal. The net effect is the Republicans always carry a few counties in the south and everyone else runs to the polls and votes for Feinstein out of fear of the alternative.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2013 @ 8:00am

      Re: Again...

      They might purposely keep some of the people in charge uninformed so that these people can claim they have not been informed. Of course, we are all guessing, having also been uninformed. Just trying to bend a little and give them the benefit of the doubt is getting much more difficult lately, especially.

       

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    Machin Shin (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:03am

    You know, it is seeing things like this that really make me think I need a government job. Good pay, good benefits, and you can still just go in put a "busy" sign on the door and take a nap all day. That is obviously what a lot of these guys must be doing....

     

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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Dianne Feinstein, 2013:
    "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."

    Joseph McCarthy, 1950:
    during a highly controversial speech at a Lincoln's Birthday luncheon, he waved around a list of 205 names of supposed active communists holding jobs in the State Department.

    Channeling Joe McCarthy, even unconsciously, is like calling the devil's name three times - sure it's flashy, but you might not like the results.

     

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    FM HIlton, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Paperwork

    "I know I put it somewhere in my desk.."

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    She's a dual israeli citizen. Just look at their spy system. Nuff said.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:19am

    She closed her eyes, figuratively if not literally.

    But I bet she's adept at double-think too.

    Politicians are not big puzzles as you seem to believe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Alzheimer's is a terrible thing for a senator to have.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    I wonder if there is any back room huddling over the upcoming election next year to take place? Were I one of these congress critters, I'd be worried today that this scandal could well remove me from office.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    she did see it, but dont you remember? she openly said she isn't in any way a 'techie' person, so had no idea what it was going on about! this is the trouble with having meddling women in positions outside a kitchen!!

     

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      Jay (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:42am

      Re:

      Don't be that guy...

      Honestly, her gender had nothing to do with this. She's in a position of power, she is fighting for the most powerful, and she is trying to ignore the huge numbers of problems that her position is supposed to cover.

      So again... Don't be that guy...

       

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      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      And she would say that all these internet naysayers are a bunch of overweight, microwave burrito eating, mom's basement dwellers.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    A Simple Answer

    I can express it in one sentence:

    Senator, as you know, we monitor everybody's communications, including yours.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:14am

    Free speach?

    Whoa! What happened to my comment from errlier? It was on topic! What the hell?

     

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    Hadtobsaid, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    It was so classified the the very thought of it was removed from her memory , by the power of the DMCA

     

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    Jasmine Charter, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Right hand / left hand... whatever...

    It's not even a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, more and more we see politicians pleading ignorance, from Obama's "I learned about this on the news just like you" or Committee members saying "they never got the memo", it's a ploy to deflect responsibility.

    You know what I say...

    If the President had to learn about something profound on the News, either he or his staff is incompetent and need to go.

    If the Congressmen aren't getting the information they need, without funding until they do. If they got it but didn't read it, fire them and get someone who knows how to do the job.

    Come on boys and girls in Washington, time to put on the big boy pants and behave like responsible adults.

    In the corporate world, they'd all be looking for a new job because the CEO (technically WE THE PEOPLE) wouldn't tolerate that sort of ineptitude.

     

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      Harry, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:58am

      Re: Right hand / left hand... whatever...

      There is the 3rd option to your scenarios that is the most likely. And that is that they are lying. They all know (or purposely put their heads in the sand) the programs were they. They knew they were being abused. They also know that there's even more that hasn't leaked out there yet. They are just trying to make this all go away, waiting for the next trial in Florida to take all the news attention from this.

       

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        art guerrilla (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re: Right hand / left hand... whatever...

        that is it in a nutshell...
        in fact, that is what the situation is 90% of the time: they KNOW the 'bad shit' that is going down, it is just THEIR bad shit, so it don't stink, and they won't acknowledge it...

        just like YOU KNOW hypocritical slimeballs like feinstein, king, etc HAVE leaked all kinds of shit that would get you and i a nice room at the graybar hotel, but is just called wednesday in their little protected world...

        dog damn i hate those bastards...
        it ISN'T just an 'honest difference of opinion', they are complicit in destroying OUR democracy...

        art guerrilla
        aka ann archy
        eof

         

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    Manabi (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    My impression was the NSA withheld it

    I agree she should have seen it, and been aware of it, but my impression of the statement was that the NSA simply hadn't given the full report to the committee. Which would seem to fit their pattern of making sure there's no oversight by not providing any information to the overseers.

    I actually kind of hope that's what happened, because it's now making the NSA's more ardent supporters look like total idiots and they're going to get mad at the NSA for causing that. It's a most excellent way for the NSA to lose their supporters in congress.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Two words:

    Plausible deniability.

    If she didn't actually go looking for the information, and/or suddenly found her schedule was absolutely packed any time a discussion on it came up, then she'd be able to pull the 'I'm shocked, shocked at these revelations!' act much better.

     

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    ipgrunt (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    Richard Blum

    Senator Feinstein is in real life, Mrs. Richard Blum, who is "connected" in California and US politics and a member of the upper echelons of international business. His capital investment firms own many US government contractors, for instance, EG&G, which he purchased from The Carlyle Group. Rumors abounded after 9/11 associating the Carlyle Group with the Saudi royal family and the Bush family.

    Senator Feinstein's voting record has demonstrated conflicts of interest in favor of her husband's firms over the years. These stories never amount to much in the national press. Mr. Blum also had conflict of interest problems while serving as a U of Cal Regent. His influence via his capital companies is extensive, to say the least.

    Senator Feinstein first came to national prominence as a SF Supervisor after the 1978 assassination of SF Mayor George Mosconi by fellow Supervisor Dan White (remember the Twinkie defense?) Ms. Feinstein followed Mosconi as SF Mayor, which served as a political stepping stone to her Senate seat. She and Mr. Blum married in 1980.

     

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    Another liar, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 3:54pm

    Senator Feinstein = liar and incompetent

    Senator Feinstein is guilty of being a liar and grossly negligent/incompetent. Add her to the long list of US government officials who repeatedly lied to Congress and the people they claim to represent. I'm more worried about people like her than Edward Snowden, people in high positions who are now abusing their position and violating numerous laws. Who should be charged with treason, the people conspiring to hide illegal activities by US government agencies, or the person who gave the info to journalists? Senator Feinstein should be the one on trial.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2013 @ 2:47am

    Spystein is either incompetent, negligent in her congressional duties, a lair, or all of the above.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Aug 17th, 2013 @ 3:32am

    ""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.""

    This is similar to my new currency for paying taxes.

     

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    TruthandFreedom, Sep 26th, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    Feinstein was just on CSPAN again stating that everything NSA is doing is legal!! LOL

    When is Californians going to wise up and get rid of her? Does she have to line them up for a gas chamber, or put cameras in all their bedrooms before they will say enough is enough? Liberalism isn't Liberalism when the true LEFT is really nothing more than FACIST REGIME!!!

     

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      American, Jan 31st, 2014 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      Her "constituents" are welfare slackers, addicts, the immoral, illegal aliens that vote anyway, etc... Since California is mostly comprised of them now (largely due to her illegal alien policies), she's got job security. Check out her net worth. She came in with a million and soared to seventy million (that's all we know about). Not bad for a public "servant." She destroyed California and got rich in the process.

       

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