What happens when a spy agency spies on the Congressional body that was created to keep spying in check in the first place? What are the implications of the CIA spying on the Senate?
That is exactly what Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asserts has happened. In a scathing address to the Senate, Feinstein, who has been a strong advocate of the intelligence community in the past, accused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of violating “the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution including the Speech and Debate clause”.
This accusation stems from an agreement between the committee and the agency to allow committee aides to review millions of confidential documents related to the post 9/11 Bush administration detention program for handling terror suspects. In the process of reviewing these documents, staffers came across an internal review of the agency’s practices. When the CIA became aware of this, Feinstein claims they searched the network — including the committee’s internal network — and removed the documents.
Both sides have accused each other’s staffs of improper behavior and both sides are denying any wrongdoing. Feinstein stressed that her staffers did not hack into the network to obtain them, but merely came across them in their review of the materials. CIA Director John Brennan denied the allegations saying, “Nothing can be further [from] the truth, we wouldn’t do that. I mean that’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.”
I hope nothing is further from the truth, because the implications of spy agencies spying on those who oversee and contain their spying activities suggests that surveillance power has run amok and those wielding it consider themselves above the law. To me, if this turns out to be true, it is a bright red flag signaling the erosion of some of our most fundamental democratic principles.
Perhaps Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it best: “Heads should roll, people should go to jail if it’s true. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.” But first, we must figure out if there’s any truth behind the question: Is the CIA spying on the Senate?
John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.