Dianne Feinstein Protects John Brennan from Being Called a Liar

Surprisingly, the most contentious comments from today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on were not directed at James “Too Cute by Half” Clapper, but instead John Brennan. Both Martin Heinrich (who used the Early Bird rule to ensure he got to speak early in the hearing) and Mark Udall hit on John Brennan’s comments about the SSCI torture report given what the CIA concluded in an internal review carried out under Leon Panetta. First, Martin Heinrich accused CIA of intimidating legitimate oversight.

[Heinrich] accused Brennan of making statements about the Intelligence panel’s interrogation report that are “meant to intimidate, deflect and thwart legitimate oversight.”

“There’s a chasm between the committee and Director Brennan on some of these issues, but it doesn’t appear to be in the director’s nature to accept those overtures, frankly,” Heinrich said.

“I respectfully and vehemently disagree with your characterization of the CIA’s cooperation with this committee,” Brennan responded.

Heinrich asked Brennan to explain why the Panetta review had been disbanded, wherein Dianne Feinstein interrupted and said that was no an appropriate question for the hearing, at which point Heinrich rebutted DiFi.

“Actually, it doesn’t fully answer the question,” Heinrich responded.

Later, Udall suggested that Brennan’s stonewalling on this internal report suggested he might have been less than forthcoming in his earlier answers about the torture report (remember, Brennan has been dodging Udall’s questions on the torture report for a year).

Udall then asked if the internal review contradicted Brennan’s statement, which the CIA director said was not appropriate to respond to in a public setting.

“Are you saying that the CIA officers who were asked to produce this internal review got it wrong? Just like you said the committee got it wrong?” Udall asked.

“Senator, as you well know, I didn’t say that the committee got it wrong,” Udall shot back. “I said there were things in that report I disagreed with, there were things that I agreed with and I look forward with working committee on the next steps in report.”

That’s when DiFi interrupted again, suggesting this wasn’t an appropriate discussion for this hearing.

Curiously, in spite of DiFi’s insistence that all mention of the Panetta report — or what led it to being quashed — take place in closed session, the CIA claims it might release their report (if they can also release their rebuttal of the Senate report). But they’re still fighting the release of the 6,000 page SSCI torture report.

They’re likely using the same dodge DOJ just used in a FOIA from Jason Leopold (who is also suing for some or all the same reports ACLU is). They said they can’t release the torture report because DiFi owns it (remember, Congress is immune from FOIA).

A report completed more than a year ago by a Senate panel that investigated the CIA’s torture program can only be released by the committee, which maintains complete “control” over the highly classified document, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Friday.

The Justice Department made that claim in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit I filed against the agency last September, in which I asked for a copy of the 300-page executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) much sought after $40 million torture report. The Justice Department asked a federal court judge Friday to dismiss my case, arguing it does not have the authority to disseminate the report because it is a “congressional record” as opposed to an “agency record,” which would make it subject to provisions of FOIA.

So DiFi doesn’t want Brennan to have to admit in public session that even the CIA found the CIA torture program didn’t work. And DiFi seems to be the single solitary hold-up for releasing her own Committee’s torture report.

Why is DiFi protecting John Brennan and his agency rather than overseeing them?

9 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    DiFi is “protecting John Brennan and his agency instead of overseeing them” because “protecting John Brennan and his agency instead of overseeing them” is precisely DiFi’s understanding and indeed definition of what what her job is. Thank you for this concise statement. And where that definition intersects with “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, DiFi resolves any potential inconsistencies in favor of toady servitude to protecting John Brennan and his ilk.

  2. upperatmos says:

    I’m with P.J. on this one. No doubt the CIA has a large portfolio on the grotesque corruption of she and her husband.

  3. GKJames says:

    But even assuming Feinstein’s compromised on account of her husband’s financial dealings, why are most of the others on the committee substantively no different? Is there not enough public interest/pressure on these people?

  4. Jonathan says:

    @Frank33: Elites first and foremost protect and defend the institution of elite power. They’re all of a piece.

    And, unlike the rest of us, they are wise enough not to hand out power to anyone without an emergency brake.

  5. omphaloscepsis says:

    It isn’t necessary to ascribe evil intent to any of the committee members, however tempting or diverting it might be. It’s quite possible that Sen. Feinstein really believes what she says.

    Her views on what oversight means could be affected by revelations from the overseen of a few carefully selected secrets, or they could be simply a case of “going along to get along”.


    “Mission: The Committee was created by the Senate in 1976 to ‘oversee and make continuing studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government,’ to ‘submit to the Senate appropriate proposals for legislation and report to the Senate concerning such intelligence activities and programs,’ and to ‘provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.’ ”

    The last part, or its interpretation by various committee members, seems to be a problem. And for what it’s worth, there do seem to be a number of committee members that take their charter seriously.


    The “short” history of the committee’s establishment (2.2 MB, 63 pages):


    The longer Raiford report referenced in the above (14.2 MB, 198 pages):


    “The 94th Congress, prompted by a lengthy New York Times report that the CIA had engaged in domestic intelligence operations and other activities which ‘directly violated its charter’, and by earlier revelations, created Select Committees in both Houses to investigate these charges.”

    “The Select Committee’s investigations publicly confirmed that the nation’s intelligence and counterintelligence agencies engaged in wire-tapping, surveillance, and mail openings within the domestic United States against its citizens, intervened in the political processes of other nations to a degree apparently unknown by congressional oversight committees, and engaged in disruptive and provocative acts against political dissidents at home.”

    As Yogi never said, it’s deja vu all over again.

Comments are closed.