THERE’S A FASCINATING — AND HISTORIC — dynamic playing out right now in Washington, where U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has accused the CIA of snooping on Senate staffers who were investigating the spy agency’s interrogation techniques during the Bush era.
What’s stunning is not just that Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, made the allegations public during a remarkable speech on the floor of the Senate. What’s even more alarming is that Feinstein has long been an ardent supporter of the nation’s intelligence community.
At root, Feinstein alleges that the CIA provided documents about interrogation techniques to Senate investigators on a secure computer, and then secretly removed some of the documents it had turned over from the computers being used by Senate staffers.
According to an Associated Press timeline of the matter, “the committee complains to the CIA, which first denies that anything was taken from the system and later contends that removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. Officials at the White House deny in such order. Feinstein complains to the White House and gets an apology from the CIA and assurances that it won’t happen again.”
But, according to Feinstein, it did happen again, though it was fascinating to hear CIA Director John Brennan deny Feinstein’s allegations.
“We wouldn’t do that,” Brennan told NBC News.
For those who think phraseology has meaning, that’s a telling choice of words; not “we didn’t,” but “we wouldn’t.”
In fact, our first thought — even before we heard from Brennan — was that it sounds exactly like the kind of thing the CIA would do.
We think Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is right. “Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” said Graham, who called it “Nixon stuff.”
And scary stuff, at least for anyone who cares about principles like democracy and privacy and separation of powers.
The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph,