(National Sentinel) Deep State: Ace investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson says the Central Intelligence Agency has been spying on American citizens — in violation of U.S. law and the Constitution — for the better part of 20 years, and maybe even longer.
Writing in The Hill, she notes:
Maybe you once thought the CIA wasn’t supposed to spy on Americans here in the United States.
That concept is so yesteryear.
Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy.
Attkisson said the “latest outrage” can be found in newly declassified documents from 2014 when that most ‘non-partisan’ of all U.S. citizens, John Brennan, was running the Agency.
The documents reveal how the CIA repeatedly intercepts emails of American citizens of the most sensitive nature — those written to Congress that involve whistleblowers who level allegations of wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community.
“The disclosures, kept secret until now, are two letters of ‘congressional notification’ from the Intelligence Community inspector general at the time, Charles McCullough,” writes “Attkisson. “He stated that during ‘routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computer systems,’ the CIA collected emails between congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection.”
The IG noted further he had concerns about the “potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent ‘chilling effect’ that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing.”
“Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints,” McCullough stated in the letters to lead Democrats and Republicans at the time on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).
The intercepts occurred during Brennan’s tenure as CIA director and as James Clapper was the director of national intelligence. Also, Attkisson noted, the intercepts occurred during a period of time when President Obama was waging a ‘war’ of sorts on whistleblowers.
There are legitimate questions about whether such monitoring is legal.
According to 1970s-era surveillance law, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies cannot spy on American citizens without just cause, which is most generally a suspicion they are acting on behalf of a foreign agent.
However, the CIA says it has an obligation to maintain surveillance of government computer systems — to make sure they’re not being infiltrated or abused — which essentially gives the Agency carte blanche to spy on all communications to and from government systems.
That includes whistleblower communications.
Attkisson says the only reason we’re just now finding out about the abuses is thanks to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, whose staffers were spied on by the Agency. It took him four years to get the info declassified, and that happened thanks to current Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who was sworn in on May 17.
“The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading congressional staff’s emails about Intelligence Community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns, as well as potential constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly,” wrote Grassley in a statement.
Attkisson says that once upon a time such news would have “shocked our sensibilities” about what government can and cannot do, should and should not do. But post-Obama, when such abuses became commonplace, we’ve become desensitized to it all.
“Outrage has been replaced by a cynical, ‘Who’s surprised about that?’ or the persistent belief that ‘Nothing’s really going to be done about it,’ and, worst of all, ‘What’s so bad about it, anyway?'” she writes.
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