Dianne Feinstein Complains about Executive Branch Blabbing

In her statement at the beginning of the Threat Intelligence Assessment hearing today, Dianne Feinstein complained that the Executive Branch continues to blab about things that are supposed to be secret (this starts around 11:00).

I’d also like to say that once again this committee has been put in a difficult position of trying to avoid any mention of classified matters when various parts of the executive branch may be doing somewhat the opposite. I ask members to be careful in their questions and statements and to remember that public discussion of some intelligence programs and assets can lead to them being compromised.

On the particular issue of drone strikes, I will only say that I was cleared to say in our joint hearing with the House Intelligence Committee last September “And there’s no issue that receives more attention and oversight from this Committee than the United States Counterterrorism efforts going on along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. These efforts are extremely precise and carefully executed and are the most effective tools we have. Non-combatant casualties are kept to an absolute minimum.”

Given the timing, given her references to both assets and programs, and given her comments about the drone strikes on the Pakistani border, I assume she’s complaining about Leon Panetta’s blabbing to 60 Minutes the other night. (Plus, DiFi and Panetta have had their difficulties in the past.)

You see? It’s not just me that is fed up with this double standard on secrecy.

Update: Josh Gerstein talked to DiFi after the hearing, and she made it clear she was not criticizing the President.

Feinstein insisted after Tuesday’s hearing that her remarks were not aimed at Obama.

“I was not criticizing the president.  I was reminding the committee about protecting classified information,” she said in a statement e-mailed to POLITICO. She did not elaborate on what “parts of the executive branch” she was referring to in her public comments earlier in the day. A spokesman had no immediate response to a request for clarification.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Similar questions might be raised about the latest drone strike in Yemen that killed at least four. The rationale given for the killings is that the victims were somehow associated with AQ and/or the Cole bombing. Given the administration’s earned lack of credibility, one can’t know if this is made up, a lie using the standard catechism, true, or partly true. Even if true, it remains an extra-judicial killing with no process, let alone due process, and can’t help but hurt us.

    Why are we doing this again, and who is protected, who profits politically and financially from these continued acts of war?

  2. PeasantParty says:

    You see? It’s not just me that is fed up with this double standard on secrecy.

    No, you are definitely not the only one. These secret laws that are to rule over us in secrecy is the upmost abomination this country has ever suffered from the legislative branch. While I agree that Panetta should not have mentioned the doctor’s name on air, I still think he is sending the Pak Leadership a serious message.

    Besides, they have never come clean yet on exactly what the threats are nor exactly what those, “America’s Strategic Interests” are in the Middle East. I know it is oil, gas, and minerals, plus global hedgemony for Corporations. However, it is time to tell the world that our military is fighting for Exxon and Shell.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is it possible for the US Government to distinguish between the international interests of the American public from those of America’s largest corporations and campaign contributors? The latter have sought to obtain prior or exclusive control of US economic relations since Sherman passed his antitrust law with Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Carnegie’s monopoly control of railroads, oil and steel, and since we liberated Hawaii from the Hawaiians, the banana from the jungles of Honduras, and copper from Chileans.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @PeasantParty: When an administration limits itself to trotting out the standard catechism of fighting “terrorism” as its goal, it’s a sure sign that it’s not going to say what it’s really doing, why or for whom. Sadly, this administration is most confident about one thing: its ability successfully to hide those goals behind Bushian rhetoric, which it delivers with intellectual rather than cowboyish swagger.

  5. PeasantParty says:

    @earlofhuntingdon: That’s true. As to your prior post I have to give you the example of Obama. He is leading on behalf of Banks, Corporations, and Fox news. Too afraid to do anything that might cause them to say mean things, little does he know they will regardless.

  6. GKJames says:

    “These efforts are extremely precise and carefully executed and are the most effective tools we have. Non-combatant casualties are kept to an absolute minimum.”

    Not sure when it happened, but the conduct of foreign policy and corporate marketing have become indistinguishable. Feinstein’s comment is of a piece with Obama’s and Panetta’s: meaningless drivel intended to lull the public into accepting execrable policy.

    Madame Senator, what, exactly, is “an absolute minimum?” Do you suggest zero, the evidence notwithstanding? You also suggest — your use of “kept” gives it away — that we in fact CHOOSE how many collaterals we off. Could you elaborate on the formula by which we decide how many youngsters and women and elderly (non-Christian, non-white, naturally) we deem expendable?


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