A veteran teevee pundit yesterday wondered why former vice-president Dick Cheney still makes the occasional appearance on corporate "news" media. I have an answer to that question.....but first, the background and the set up.
Way back in 2002, when the Bush-Cheney junta systematically ordered "mirror" sites built alongside of key commercial communications hubs enabling the NSA to secretly vacuum up all U.S. electronic communications without judicial or even FISA Court warrants.....the justification, as we learned years later, was "to protect national security."
As we were led to believe during those glorious Global War On Terror days, United States law, the U.S Constitution, U.S. treaties prohibiting torture, UN agreements against member nations attacking sovereign nations without provocation.......all became optional. Remember.....'everything changed after 9-11.'
Yesterday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) surprised a lot of people when she announced that....
".....the Central Intelligence Agency may have violated federal law to spy on Congress."
Feinstein was outraged......outraged I tell ya'.
That would be the same Dianne Feinstein who, in June of last year, responded to the fallout over the Edward Snowden leaks which revealed for the first time that the NSA was collecting electronic communications on virtually everyone in America and out.....by saying, "It's called protecting America."
Hypocrisy aside.....what's important to understand about Feinstein's outrage yesterday is why the NSA apparently spied on the Senate Select Committee's computers. A 2009-ordered Senate Select Committee staff report on harsh interrogations, torture, and detention policies, all policies ordered early on in the Bush administration, summarized....
"The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detentions sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us."
Which led to this....
"On March 5th, 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the CIA detention and interrogation program."
Feinstein explained how the information the Select Committee reviewed, documents, depositions. e-mails, cables and what not, was basically controlled by the CIA. The CIA decided which documents could be made available and which documents could not be made available to the Committee. The following were the ground rules for reviewing that material on computers the CIA provided for the Select Committee....
"....the CIA was to provide a, 'stand-alone computer system', with a, 'network drive segregated from CIA networks', for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA who would, 'not be permitted to share information from the system with other CIA personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee'...."
Over time, Committee members noticed this....
"In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that the documents had been provided for the committee -- that had been provided for the committee's review were no longer accessible."
"....roughly 870 documents or page of documents...were removed in February 2010; and....roughly another 50....were removed in mid-May 2010."
It seems, however, that it was then-CIA Director Leon Panetta's "internal review" of the interrogation, detention and torture practices during the Bush administration which the CIA was most interested in when the CIA did this....
"The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the internal review or we obtained it.
Instead the CIA just went and searched the committee's computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta review."
The Senate orders an investigation into Bush-Cheney policies concerning torture. The CIA, who conducted the torture, agrees to work with the Senate Select Committee, agrees to make documents, e-mails. etc. available, agrees to 'fence off' the Committee's computer system.....and then secretly spies on that computer system.
Now, if Feinstein is to be believed, our government is in the middle of a "constitutional crisis" because the CIA spied on the Senate Select Committee's computer system. Executive branch versus legislative branch...in a no holds barred battle. Or not.
Here's where Dick Cheney and his curious habit of appearing on teevee "news" shows every so often enters the story.
The Select Committee's investigation centered on the torture policies of the Bush administration. Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, placing detainees in coffin sized boxes and putting bugs inside the coffin, "wall slamming", hanging detainees up by their arms with chains while drenching them in cold water...and much more.
Say what you will about George W. Bush....and I have.....it was undoubtedly Dick Cheney who orchestrated these torture policies. Cheney had his "Office of Special Plans" and Cheney led the secretive "stovepiping" of information back and forth with the CIA. Cheney, as his final approval numbers illustrated, was the true villain of the Bush administration.
And that is why Dick Cheney still appears every so often....almost magically....in front of teevee "news" cameras. It has been Cheney's sole focus since leaving the White House to keep his numerous crimes from becoming publicly known. I would also suggest that Cheney still has many friendly contacts inside the CIA who also share the former vice-president's concerns about too much damning information being revealed publicly.
I have little doubt that the CIA was protecting it's own ass by spying on the Select Committee. The CIA was the "evil" component (alongside the NSA) during those glorious GWOT days.
And I have no doubt Richard Cheney is trying to do the same.
But "constitutional crisis"? Not on your life. All this stuff will soon be swept under the proverbial rug.....as it has for the last 12 years.
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