13 March, 2014

The Senate-CIA Blowup Threatens a Constitutional Crisis | Mother Jones

The Senate-CIA Blowup Threatens a Constitutional Crisis | Mother Jones:

Feinstein said that the CIA appeared to have violated the Fourth
Amendment barring unreasonable searches and seizures—and perhaps
other federal laws and a presidential executive order prohibiting the
CIA from domestic searches and surveillance. She confirmed that the
Justice Department was on the case. She said she has demanded an apology
from the CIA and an admission that the agency's search of the
intelligence committee’s computers was wrong. "I have received neither,"
she declared.

This unprecedented speech by Feinstein has ramifications beyond the
immediate controversy over the CIA search. It undermines the basis for
secret government.

The United States is a republic, and elected officials in all three
branches are supposed to be held accountable by those famous checks and
balances that school kids learn about in civics classes. When it comes
to the clandestine activities of the US government—the operations of the
CIA, the other intelligence outfits, and the covert arms of the
military—the theory is straightforward: These activities are permitted
only because there is congressional oversight. The citizenry is not told
about such actions because doing so would endanger national security
and render these activities moot. But such secret doings of the
executive branch are permissible because elected representatives of the
people in the legislative branch monitor these activities and are in a
position to impose accountability.