Hit & Run

Torture Report Epilogue: No Punishment for CIA Staff Who Spied on Senate


John Brennan could probably shoot you dead on the street and go unpunished.

Well, if we're not going to punish CIA officials for torturing people and misleading leaders about it, we're certainly not going to punish CIA officials for snooping on Senate staff and misleading leaders about it, right? Right. After a nasty fight over the Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report led to a group of CIA officials snooping on the computers Senate staff were using to put the report together, it seems that a panel is going to recommend no disciplinary action. From the New York Times:

The panel will make that recommendation after the five C.I.A. officials who were singled out by the agency's inspector general this year for improperly ordering and carrying out the computer searches staunchly defended their actions, saying that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.

While effectively rejecting the most significant conclusions of the inspector general's report, the panel, appointed by Mr. Brennan and composed of three C.I.A. officers and two members from outside the agency, is still expected to criticize agency missteps that contributed to the fight with Congress.

Brennan defended the searches at the time, but then apologized to Senate Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was furious about the intrusion and went public with the whole mess.

Just as a reminder over what this fight was really about in the wake of the release of the executive summary of the torture report: The Senate staffers working on the report had special computers that gave them access to thousands upon thousands of internal CIA documents they used to put the full report together. At one point they discovered an internal analysis of the enhanced interrogation program known as the "Panetta Review." According to Feinstein and other Democratic senators, this CIA review actually rejects the talking points the CIA has been using to counter the Senate's report and agrees with the Senate's conclusion that enhanced interrogation (torture) didn't provide useful intelligence. The CIA did not want the Senate to have access this report and inappropriately accessed the special Senate computers to investigate how the Senate got access. The whole, nasty fight is laid out here.

We have no idea what is actually in the Panetta Review and whether what Feinstein is saying is true. Conor Friedersdorf over at The Atlantic points out how Brennan pretty much flat-out lied about his knowledge of all of this and will not face any consequences either.

Actually, knowing how political power works, it's a little bit surprising that nobody will punished over this. I mean, it's one thing to torture innocent people and let them die in freezing jail cells overseas. From the perspective of power players in Washington, that's just a thing that happens (note the lack of outrage in the murder of innocents in drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere). But screwing with the staff of a powerful senator? That's playing with fire.

NEXT: Anti-Leak Brigade Seeks Occupational Code

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  1. In all honesty, I don't give two shits about whether or not the CIA spies who spied on Congress get punished or not, so long as the CIA is surveilling US citizens' correspondence with impunity and with very little Congressional pushback. If these assholes want my sympathy, then they know what they have to do to get it.

    1. If these assholes want my sympathy, then they know what they have to do to get it.

      I'd tell them to look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.

    2. While I'm not sympathetic to Congress on this, I think you're missing something. This means that Congress doesn't have control of the CIA. This is effectively an admission that there is a permanent, secret government. Sure, they let Congress pass laws and stuff as long as it doesn't interfere with the intelligence agencies, but we've lost democracy.

      1. I'm not sure sarcasmic is missing anything. I imagine that he actually quite aware that elements of the CIA function along with other security and corporate elements as America's deep state.

        Does anybody really think America's ruling elite will allow themselves to be constrained by the likes of DiFi, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Hank Johnson, and Nancy Pelosi? American voters can elect these people, and they can make a difference ... but only to the extent that their pet projects do not conflict with the interests of the deep state. The relationship of elected representatives to the deep state is very much like the relationship of student counsel to a high school's administration. If in doubt, review the history of early history of TARP.

  2. Conservatives get in on the college lynch mob action.

    One said "i have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today" and the other elaborated slightly to say "lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist fucking country."

    Well, that sure does sound like free speech in a personal forum that is unrelated in any way to her capacity as a student.

    The article quickly spread on social media, with many conservative commenters urging Brandeis to expel Lynch. Her supporters online have noted that many of the comments on social media (and apparently sent to Lynch) go well beyond criticizing her to making threats against her. Her supporters also criticize the use of her photographs (which she had earlier posted online) on social media as endangering her.

    A Facebook group was created Monday called Expel Khadijah Lynch From Brandeis and it quickly attracted followers. The stated purpose of the group: "to get this woman expelled from Brandeis and exposed for the racist that she is!"

    Fuck these people. None of the people doing this have any moral justification for whining the next thing something similar happens to a right-wing student.

    1. I also love the knee jerk conservatives claiming what this woman said is 'racist.' How, exactly? She claimed the United States is racist, which is why these actions are justified. I must have missed the comments where she expounded on her general hatred of all white people, since I don't see them in this article.

      Accusations of racism totally without evidence! It's not just for progs anymore!

      1. It's been hilarious to listen to all of the "Constitutional conservatives" who routinely crow about "get the government off our backs," rush to the defense of the government's most brutal, tyrannical agents, the ones specifically empowered to employ violence on the general public.

        I guess when it comes down to it, most conservatives will gladly accept the boot of government on their faces as long as the thin blue line protects suburbia from the "urban youths."

        1. I think it's mostly just knee jerk tribalism.

        2. What's funny is that uncritical support of law enforcement is essentially the opposite of what one would want to do to get to the ostensible conservative goal RE law enforcement (that is to say, strict enforcement of violent and property crime). Saddling cops with enforcement of the regulatory state and cheering on their efforts to do this does not support this goal in the slightest.

        3. The views of cops by both progressives and conservatives make no sense whatsoever.

          Conservatives allegedly want small government and fear the government eliminating their liberty/disarming them, etc. Well, who do they imagine enforces big government programs? Who do they think will be called on to disarm them when the time comes? It's particularly absurd given that Garry McCarthy (former NYPD superintendent, now with the Chicago Police Department) is vehemently anti-gun and supported virtually all the measures Bloomberg implemented which conservatives oppose. So the guy who ran the NYPD is vehemently anti-gun, yet pro-gun conservatives adore the NYPD.

          Meanwhile, progressives gaze lustfully towards the brilliant social utopia they imagine will result from their incessant nanny-state policies. Well, who will implement those policies? The cops - who progressives profess to hate! Progs want strict gun laws, yet those strict gun laws will be enforced by people progressives claim are anti-black racists who use the law to abuse minorities. So prog policies necessitate the constant use of people progressives claim to despise.

          None of this makes sense.

          1. None of this makes sense.

            Which makes it a perfect example of the philosophical sensibilities of the average voter.

          2. Of course it doesn't make sense. It's all teams and tribes as noted by others. Libertarians are the only ones who, as a group, employ reason and consistency (or try to).

    2. Why has there been no mention of the guy shot by 'accident' in a hallway in NYC? Then again,shooting innocent people is not the only crime cops commit.There are many more no getting attention.

  3. John Brennan could probably shoot you dead on the street and go unpunished

    At this point, who can't? Well, excepting us normal people obviously.

  4. I'll bet these fine senators thought nothing like this would ever happen to them.

    1. Yep. Boy were they wrong.

  5. Only slightly related, Frank Church and James Jesus Angleton are buried in the same cemetery.

  6. But if they hold them accountable, somebody else might hold another government stooge accountable and so on until the whole system collapses!

    There will be no more accountability for anyone in government because of this principle. They all operate under the principle of mutual ass-covering when it comes to criminal proceedings. Public lambasting is fine, just no jail time.

    1. Heh,you act like their 'civilians'!

  7. Of course we aren't going to hold you accountable, we are all just one big happy government.

    1. All the way down to the rookie beat cop.

  8. Actually, knowing how political power works, it's a little bit surprising that nobody will punished over this. ... But screwing with the staff of a powerful senator? That's playing with fire.

    If you're a congresstroll, that depends entirely on:

    a. Whether you think the punishment will actually prevent them from spying on you in the future
    b. Whether you believe that spying on your office will not turn up any illicit or salacious behavior.

    Both are unlikely.

    1. No no, you're doing it wrong.

      It depends entirely on what political concessions you can wring out of the organization for future skullduggery.

  9. Wouldn't it be nice if Edward Snowden were living in the U.S. collecting consulting fees while the torturers and perjurers were holing up in Russia to escape American justice?

    1. And I don't mean the best parts of Russia, either. More like Siberia in wintertime.

      1. Somewhere along the Ukraine border?

        1. I said exile them, not kill them.

          For one thing, they should stay alive for when they want to spill the beans on their former associates in exchange for leniency.

        2. The more enterprising ones would probably see it as a business opportunity.

    2. The US really needs a South African style Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

      In the case of South Africa, the whites -- particularly the ruling elite -- first had to recognize that apartheid was wrong.

      In our case, Americans would first have to understand that the permanent warfare state is wrong. For that to happen, Americans would have to recognize that the US has been a permanent warfare state for at least a century.

    3. If there were such a thing as American justice, that's what it would look like.

  10. " But screwing with the staff of a powerful senator? That's playing with fire."

    How many divisions does the Senate command?

    1. Zero? They have the US Capitol Police, and a Sergeant at Arms, but that's pretty lame compared to even a modest National Guard infantry unit.

  11. If you got the goods on your boss, you become in fact, his boss.

  12. Do Americans care?

    Perhaps torture is who we are, as long as someone else is on the receiving end.

  13. I very much doubt that they (CIA) were 'spying' on Senate Staffers, but were merely monitoring what they were accessing as per the access agreement in place to ensure that they weren't reading/downloading any material they were not cleared to access.
    I'm sure these staffers were a bit surprised that no one 'trusted' them to keep their word, especially when they didn't.
    If anyone should be charged with anything, it would be the staffers for going where they were not allowed.
    That could be called "Espionage".

    1. as a matter of fact, those were indeed investigating Feinstein's staffers for illegally accessing and taking CIA documents

  14. the CIA was investigating treasonous Congressional staffers who illegally stole documents from the CIA for their pathetic terrorist-sympathising circus show - fuck 'em

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