Believe it or not, I have voted for Dianne Feinstein
during my California days. I did so fully aware of the fact that she is, in many ways, awful. Alas, her opponents were always awfuller. Let's just say that her elections have always tended to resemble the dynamics of the 2012 Obama/Romney face-off.
You probably won't be able to read the Feinstein op-ed at the other end of the above link -- there's a paywall -- but you can get the gist via Mary Wheeler
and Michael German of the ACLU
, who has mounted a very interesting response.
Basically, DiFi thinks that if the NSA isn't allowed to store all of the data on all of our phone calls, the big bad terrorists are going to kill everyone. In the past, she says, the NSA has used its mighty powers to identify twelve terror plots. This claim is poppycock. There was only one (1) (uno) verified instance, and that case involved someone who sent a piddling amount of money to some bad guys in Somalia. Not exactly the biggest catch of the century.
DiFi also says that the NSA's phone data collection program could have prevented 9/11 because we would have known that future 9/11 hijacker Khalid al Mihdhar was within our borders. German's reply:
It turns out that the NSA was intercepting calls to the al Qaeda safe house in Yemen as early as 1999, and both the FBI and CIA knew Mihdhar was an al Qaeda operative long before the 9/11 attacks.
Also see here
She [Feinstein] highlighted the case of 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar to further support her argument except, according to Sen. Ron Wyden, “The government had all the information it needed to go to the phone company and get an individual court order.” And, “If time was of the essence” in any of these cases, the government could seek a “different court order or administrative subpoena” that “would allow for an emergency request for the records.”
Let's get back to German's piece:
The CIA, however, failed to place Mihdhar on a watch list or “notify the FBI when it learned Mihdhar possessed a valid U.S. visa,” according to the 9/11 Commission report. The inspector general’s report revealed that five FBI officials assigned to the CIA Counterterrrorism Center viewed CIA cables indicating Mihdhar had a U.S. visa. A week after the Kuala Lumpur meeting, Mihdhar and Hazmi flew into Los Angeles International Airport and entered the United States without a problem. After their entrance, the NSA would intercept at least six calls from the al Qaida safe house in Yemen to the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Let me add something else. If we are talking about lost opportunities to prevent 9/11, what about the fact that Khalid Mihdhar and Nawaf Hazmi lived in San Diego with a freakin' FBI asset?
(It's not as though that story is little-known. If you go to Google and start typing "hijackers l" you'll immediately face this auto-completion: "hijackers lived with FBI informant.")
I'm not here to promote any weird conspiracy theories. I'm simply saying that 9/11 could have been prevented in all sorts of ways, using the technologies available at the time and keeping well within the boundaries of the laws as they then read. Feinstein is way
out of line if she uses those terrible events to justify giving Uncle Sam the powers of Zeus, Odin and Kal-El combined.
Dianne Feinstein chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Let's remind ourselves of her record on CIA drone strikes
Senator Feinstein has claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee has been doing "robust oversight." But unfortunately, just as the CIA has been low-balling civilian casualties from CIA drone strikes by redefining "militant" as "any military-age male killed in a drone strike," it appears that Feinstein has in practice redefined "oversight" as "meeting with CIA officials and accepting without question whatever they say." Her account, emailed to reporters, of the committee's "robust oversight" of the CIA on drone strikes doesn't provide any evidence of any interaction with anyone outside the CIA, including other Obama administration officials who have been critical of the CIA's drone strike policies.
Not everyone on that committee is compromised -- Ron Wyden
, for example, is a decent fellow who has been trying to find out more about Obama's assassination programs. Naturally, DiFi has done everything she can to kneecap
Also see here
: "Political Moves: How Dianne Feinstein Cut Off One Of The Few Attempts At Actual Oversight By Senate Intelligence Committee." Wyden's the fellow who made that attempt.
One of these days, someone should write a book explaining how the CIA has always managed to keep the intel committees well-leashed.
On the House side, Dutch Ruppersberger (pictured to the right of these words) is a leader on the intel committee. He's now my congressman. Frankly, he's another Feinstein: Good on some issues, yes -- but on national security matters, the guy is insanely deferential to Lords of Spookdom.
He is literally the NSA's congressman. Fort Meade is within his district.
So what kind of dirt does the intelligence community have on Dutch and Di? My informants tell me that these two politicians share a (literally) dark secret: Both politicians use hair dye. The same shade
. It's graymail!