The controversial surveillance program that gave the NSA access to the phone call records of millions of Americans has cost US taxpayers $100m – and resulted in just one useful lead over four years.
No choice but to use American gear, grins spymaster
Of course, this very same Pete Hoekstra, who long defended NSA surveillance, didn’t seem to have much of an issue when the NSA was spying on anyone other than himself. Just last year, in a debate with Glenn Greenwald, Hoekstra mocked the idea that anyone was upset at the NSA spying on foreign governments and said if there was anything to complain about, it was that the NSA allowed such info to leak
During an obscure Senate hearing on Tuesday morning, lawmakers vented their frustrations with the Drug Enforcement Administration for failing to answer questions about an incident that saw a man almost die of dehydration while in its custody.
“At what point do I have to conclude that the [Drug Enforcement Administration] is hiding something about what happened here?” asked Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, unsuccessfully prodding a DEA witness to explain why Senate inquiries into what happened to Daniel Chong have been met with silence.
On April 20, 2012, Chong was detained by DEA agents during a drug raid on a friend’s house in San Diego. The 23-year-old university student cooperated with agents during an interrogation, and was told that he would soon be free to go, only to be handcuffed with his hands behind his back and left in a small holding cell for five days without food or water. When he was finally discovered, Chong was suffering from near-kidney failure and hypothermia and in need of serious medical attention.
A Justice Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation released last June shed additional light on Chong’s maddening de facto sentence — often served in complete darkness. He told investigators he was forced to drink his own urine and at one point attempted suicide.
Chong later received a $4.1 million settlement from the Justice Department.
The inspector general’s report, however, raised new questions about the incident, and cast doubt on DEA agents’ claims that they didn’t hear Chong’s repeated shouts and bangs in a bid to get someone’s attention. When his version of events was recreated for the purposes of the probe, an investigator “clearly heard the banging and yelling.”
Senator Grassley, who called the findings “shocking,” had last August sent a 19-question letter to DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.
“It’s been now eight months — I still don’t have a response from DEA to these questions,” Sen. Grassley said on Tuesday. He asked DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator of Drug Diversion Joseph Rannazzisi to commit the agency to responding to his inquiry by the end of the month.
Rannazzisi responded that “This was a regrettable tragic event,” before admitting that “I can’t speak for DEA or the department when the letter is going to come to you.”
Also lamenting the agency’s lack of transparency was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Her office sent two unanswered letters to the DEA last year in July and August seeking answers about the detention of her constituent.
“When we don’t get responses to our letters, that colors our view of the agency — particularly when we’re writing about a constituent who suffered from a real lapse in process,” Sen. Feinstein said during the hearing.
On Tuesday the Los Angeles Times revealed that the most severe punishment meted out to the agents responsible for Chong’s nightmare was a seven-day suspension.
“It blows my mind,” Sen. Feinstein said during the hearing, referring to the leniency afforded to the agents who were involved in what she described as a “serious infraction.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein is calling for a pair of controversial instructionals to be banned from the internet.
Feinstein (D-CA) did not say exactly how she plans to scrub The Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire magazine from every server, desktop and notebook on the planet, but none the less she wants both titles pulled from circulation.
The comments come after two women were arrested in New York City on charges of plotting terrorist attacks.
The duo reportedly had ties to the late former editor of the Al-Qaeda backed English-language Inspire, and were accused of seeking out other bomb-making guides in preparation for an attack.
Now Feinstein, a big fan of America’s surveillance apparatus, wants to make both Inspire and the 1969 Anarchist Cookbook illegal to make available online.
“We must remain vigilant against these types of attacks and place a high priority on tracking and interdicting such plots,” the fifth-term Senator said.
“I am particularly struck that the alleged bombers made use of online bomb-making guides like the Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire magazine. These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the internet.”
Difficult as it may be to have a book permanently “removed” from the internet, Feinstein shares the opinion of at least one prominent figure: the author of the Anarchist Cookbook. William Powell now says that the book should be taken out of circulation, calling its underlying premise “profoundly flawed.”