Senator Dianne Feinstein made an explosive accusation against the CIA yesterday when she publicly accused the agency of spying on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a speech
on the Senate floor. The nearly forty minute speech was blistering critique of the agencies spying practices and was not short on dire warnings about the spy agencies intrusion into the legislative branch of government. It didn't take long for the CIA to swing back and accuse the Intelligence Committee of spying on them and requested that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation into the whole matter.
This unusual public spat is extraordinary in its nature and is not met without some sense of irony by many individuals, myself included. The fact that we have a strong defender of the Governments right to spy on its own citizens become outraged that she and her committee are spied on is somewhat humorous. The fact that the Senator is content with the American population being spied on but upset that she and her committee are spied on goes to show how out of touch many in the Legislative Branch are. This should not be interpreted as my stamp of approval for the CIA's tactics, but rather my frustration with the way our Legislative Branch has no problem with Americans being spied on but fain outrage if they are.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been conducing a years long investigation into the interrogation practices that the CIA conducted under former President Bush and is widely expected to detail a number of illegal activities the agency conducted throughout multiple years. The report, which is currently classified, is over 6,000 pages long. Senator Feinstein has asked the Obama Administration to find out a way to declassify it so the American public can be aware of what the agency has done in the name of keeping Americans safe.
I must admit that I'm somewhat torn on this issue. I believe that it is important for the Legislative Branch to be able to conduct investigations into our spy agencies and any other issue they wish without any intrusion. On the other hand, I am quite frustrated that so many in our Legislative Branch are content with average Americans being spied on, but draw the line when it comes to themselves. Why should they expect to be treated any differently than the rest of us?
What we need is a clear set of rules that limit our spy agencies ability to conduct their business within the borders of the United States. I'm not calling for there to be no spying because that would be quite absurd, but I am calling for clear guidelines that detail what is and is not acceptable behavior for the spy agencies.