Not Since Nixon

This is deeply shocking, and deeply disturbing:

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday sharply accused the CIA of violating federal law and undermining the constitutional principle of congressional oversight as she detailed publicly for the first time how the agency secretly removed documents from computers used by her panel to investigate a controversial interrogation program.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.”

She confirmed that an internal agency investigation of the action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. And she said that the CIA appears to have violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as various federal laws and a presidential executive order that prevents the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance.

She has sought an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, she said. “I have received neither,” she added.

The comments by Feinstein, traditionally a strong advocate for the intelligence community, blew wide open a dispute that has simmered behind closed doors in recent weeks.

Questions worth asking:

  • Is Feinstein telling the truth? (Personally, I see no reason for her to lie, and it is worth noting that she is a staunch defender of the CIA and of other intelligence agencies.)
  • If she is telling the truth, when did this CIA program start?
  • Is it continuing?
  • Is John Brennan, the director of central intelligence (DCI), associated with the program? Did he authorize it in any way?
  • Were any other DCIs associated with the program, and did they authorize it in any way?
  • And finally: What did the president know, and when did he know it?
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