‘We’re Really Screwed Now’: NSA Reels As Feinstein Turns On Them
By D.B. Hirsch
October 29, 2013 8:49 am - NewsBehavingBadly.com
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been one of Capitol Hill’s most staunch defenders of robust espionage programs. Until now. If she’s miffed at the NSA, it’s safe to assume that saying the agency overstepped its mandate and authority is an understatement:
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been one of Capitol Hill’s most forceful proponents of a robust espionage establishment. Until now. If she’s putting her foot down, then to say that the NSA has overstepped its authority and mandate is an understatement:
One of the National Security Agency’s biggest defenders in Congress is suddenly at odds with the agency and calling for a top-to-bottom review of U.S. spy programs. And her long-time friends and allies are completely mystified by the switch.
“We’re really screwed now,” one NSA official told The Cable. “You know things are bad when the few friends you’ve got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address.”
In a pointed statement issued today, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein said she was “totally opposed” to gathering intelligence on foreign leaders and said it was “a big problem” if President Obama didn’t know the NSA was monitoring the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said the United States should only be spying on foreign leaders with hostile countries, or in an emergency, and even then the president should personally approve the surveillance.
It was not clear what precipitated Feinstein’s condemnation of the NSA. It marks a significant reversal for a lawmaker who not only defended agency surveillance programs — but is about to introduce a bill expected to protect some of its most controversial activities.
Perhaps most significant is her announcement that the intelligence committee “will initiate a review into all intelligence collection programs.” Feinstein did not say the review would be limited only to the NSA. If the review also touched on other intelligence agencies under the committee’s jurisdiction, it could be one of the most far-reaching reviews in recent memory, encompassing secret programs of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, agencies that run imagery and spy satellites, as well as components of the FBI.