August 03. 2014 7:15PM

Spy vs. Congress: The new surveillance state


“As far as allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just, just, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.”
 — CIA Director
John Brennan, March 11

“CIA director John Brennan apologizes for search of Senate computers”
 — The Washington Post, July 31

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA of hacking Senate computers to spy on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the CIA, the agency’s director all but accused Feinstein of being insane, as the above quote shows.
“When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong,” he said.
Last week, after an internal investigation of the allegations determined they were true, Director Brennan apologized to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
CIA employees had indeed accessed computers the committee’s staffers were using to investigate the CIA’s interrogation techniques.
Those computers were provided by the CIA and housed in a separate facility in Virginia for the purpose of facilitating the investigation.
According to Brennan, they were accessed by CIA staff trying to determine how the committee got hold of a report that was supposed to have remained secret.
To be fair, Brennan himself is the one who ordered the CIA’s inspector general to investigate, and he divulged the findings. But that is cold comfort these days.
From the NSA to the CIA, we have a pattern of government officials publicly denying that federal intelligence agencies are — or ever would be — spying on American citizens, when they are doing exactly that.
Last year Attorney General Eric Holder would not answer directly whether the NSA was spying on members of Congress.
He would say only that it had no “intent” to. In January, the NSA did not directly answer Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., when he asked the same question.
President Obama has systematically overstepped his executive authority in many areas.
People of all political parties can see why that is dangerous (even if some won’t admit it). The danger inherent in government intelligence agencies spying on elected representatives and their staffers should be even more obvious.
The people’s control of their own government is a great safeguard of American liberty.
That is jeopardized if the machinery of the state is monitoring the private communications of the people who are supposed to be controlling it.