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C.I.A. Admits Spying On Senate, Senate Finally Outraged About Surveillance

A man crosses the Central Intelligence A

After years of denials, the Central Intelligence Agency is now admitting that it did in fact spy on the Senate by accessing a computer network that Senators and staff were using as part of an investigation of the agency’s detention and interrogation programs:

WASHINGTON — An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, a C.I.A. spokesman said that agency’s inspector general had concluded that C.I.A. officers had acted inappropriately by gaining access to the computers.

The statement said that John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had apologized to the two senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and that he would set up an internal accountability board to review the matter. The board will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.

The statement, which was first reported by McClatchy, gave almost no specifics about the findings of the report, written by David Buckley, the agency’s inspector general.]

Officials said there was a tense meeting earlier this week when Mr. Brennan briefed the two senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia. The officials said Ms. Feinstein had confronted Mr. Brennan about past public statements on the issue, in which he defended the agency’s actions.

When the C.I.A.’s monitoring of the committee became public in March, Mr. Brennan said, “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

Last year, the C.I.A. gained access to a computer network, reserved solely for Senate investigators working at an agency facility in Northern Virginia, after officials suspected the intelligence committee had improperly obtained an internal C.I.A. report about the detention program, which is now defunct.

Shortly after the C.I.A. action was made public, Ms. Feinstein gave a blistering speech on the floor of the Senate accusing the agency of infringing on the committee’s role as overseer.

The White House on Thursday publicly defended Mr. Brennan, saying he had taken “responsible steps” to address the situation, including suggesting an investigation, accepting its results and appointing an accountability board. Asked whether the results of the investigation present a credibility issue for Mr. Brennan, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary said, “Not at all.”

Crediting Mr. Brennan with playing an “instrumental role” in helping the United States government destroy Al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Earnest said, “He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinarily well.”

Kevin Drum reacts:

I find that my reaction remains one of schadenfreude. Dianne Feinstein and the rest of the Intelligence Committee seem to be mostly unconcerned with the omnipresent surveillance apparatus constructed by the US intelligence committee, so it’s hard to feel very sorry for them when they learn that this apparatus is also sometimes directed at Senate staffers. If this affair had persuaded a few senators that maybe our intelligence chiefs are less than totally honest about what they do, it might have done some good. But it doesn’t seem to have done that. With only a few exceptions, they’re outraged when the CIA spies on them, but that’s about it.

On some level, I find myself agreeing with Drum’s schadenfreude. Neither the Senate Intelligence Committee nor its counterpart in the House have seemed to be overly concerned about either the surveillance activities of the NSA and other agencies or the activities that the CIA engaged in overseas as part of the “War On Terror” during the Bush Administration up until this point. Now, when we have word that the apparatus of the National Security State has been turned against them, we see lawmakers getting upset. This isn’t to say that they don’t have legitimate complaints, of course, the idea of one of the nation’s intelligence services monitoring the Legislative Branch is something that raises an whole host of  issues that all Americans ought to be concerned about. This includes both the rather obvious Separation Of Powers issues involved in an Executive Branch agency spying on the Legislature and the fact that the intelligence community was spying on the committee that was established for the specific purpose of overseeing its operations. If nothing else, it makes one wonder whether, and how often, something like this has happened in the past.

Like Drum, I suppose that the best that can come out of something like this is that it would cause the people on the Intelligence Committees who are charged with overseeing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to be just a little bit more skeptical when it comes to accepting the representations from the CIA and other agencies. For too long, both of the standing committees have acted far too much like rubber stamps for agency activity and far too little like the overseers that they were intended to be when they were established nearly years ago. If this causes them to become more of what they were intended to be, then perhaps the CIA did all of us a favor here.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    So who in the CIA is being disciplined over this? Nobody? If it was a whistle blower, they would have been on him/her faster than the speed of light with a full investigation and suspension.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. edmondo says:

    And the head of the CIA is getting fired when?

    LOL- I joke. No one gets fired for gross incompetence in the Obama Administration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    Last year, the C.I.A. gained access to a computer network, reserved solely for Senate investigators working at an agency facility in Northern Virginia, after officials suspected the intelligence committee had improperly obtained an internal C.I.A. report about the detention program, which is now defunct.

    Nice passive voice — “gained access” — as if it’s just something that happened. “Broke into” would be the accurate way to describe it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Jack says:

    The DOJ has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies to include investigations of the media – and lies to federal courts to gain warrants (ie. James Rosen). The EPA has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies such as farmers and natural foods suppliers. The IRS has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies to include conservative groups, Tea Party groups and pro-Israel groups.

    So why wouldn’t the CIA also take the same approach to “target” their enemy, the oversight from congress?

    This is just another example of how governmental agencies feel empowered by the Obama administration to weaponize their departments against their adversaries. The common thread is their collective belief ‘the people’ are the enemy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    All other issues aside, this is also an instance of CIA conducting a domestic spying operation, and against US citizens to boot, something which it is expressly forbidden to do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    The EPA has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies such as farmers and natural foods suppliers. The IRS has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies to include conservative groups, Tea Party groups and pro-Israel groups.

    Lie, lie, lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  7. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders: “The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/irs-admits-targeting-conservatives-for-tax-scrutiny-in-2012-election/2013/05/10/3b6a0ada-b987-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html

    “The EPA is threatening to fine Alt $37,500 each time it rains. Why? It seems the EPA believes that all-natural dust, feathers and manure on her farm are a threat, and that rain water draining off her property will contaminate the environment.”

    http://www.offthegridnews.com/2014/02/06/epa-fines-chicken-farmer-37500-each-time-it-rains/

    You don’t have to like the truth, but you do have to accept it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    You don’t have to like the truth, but you do have to accept it.

    Oh for god’s sake…I don’t want this thread to go off on a tangent, so I’ll just say this once, simply, so you can understand it:

    Denying tax-exempt status that is reserved for non-political groups to political groups that have falsely applied for it is not “targeting.” Tax-exempt status granted by the IRS is supposed to be explicitly reserved for “social welfare” organizations, not political groups. If those groups are, as you put it, “conservative groups, Tea Party groups and pro-Israel groups” THEN THEY ARE POLITICAL and BY DEFINITION should not have applied for, and should not be granted, tax-exempt status. Making sure they don’t get tax-exemptions they’re not legally supposed to get is exactly what the IRS should be doing.

    You see the logic fail behind your argument? You’re saying “anti-Obama groups were denied tax-exempt status.” Yes, that’s right. They should be. By law. Because tax-exempt status is reserved for social welfare organizations that do not have a primary political purpose.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    The EPA has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies such as farmers and natural foods suppliers.

    Oh, and Jack? When you write “domestic enemies such as farmers and natural foods suppliers” no one is going to take you seriously. Crazy people who write crazy sounding things get mocked and derided. If you want to argue with adults, make adult arguments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  10. Tillman says:

    I’m so glad they managed to wring a confession out of the CIA, and an internal accountability board to boot! I gleefully wait for the board’s findings and recommendations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Lounsbury says:

    @edmondo: It is a queer form of blind partisan idiocy to react in such a fashion when the securtäte state exploded under a certain prior president of yours of your colour.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  12. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Tax-exempt status granted by the IRS is supposed to be explicitly reserved for “social welfare” organizations, not political groups.

    Wrong, again.

    501(c)(3) exemptions apply to corporations, and any community chest, fund, cooperating association or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

    501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations cannot engage in political campaigning.

    What is a political campaign? In general, the IRS rule refers to campaigns between people who are running for offices in public elections. These can include: candidates running for president of the U.S.; candidates running for governor; candidates running for mayor; and also candidates for lower elected offices such as school board officials, city supervisors, and county trustees.

    What is “participating?” Your organization cannot participate in a campaign, directly or indirectly, on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate. If your organization takes a stand in any campaign, supporting or opposing one or another candidate, this violates the prohibition.

    A group with the words conservative, Tea Party, or Pro-Isral does not mean they are campaigning for or against a specific person or candidate.

    Next???

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 20

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    The CIA has been a rogue operation since it’s inception. When I worked for the DIA in the 70s we used to refer to them as cowboys that had read too many James Bond novels. Many of their operations have resulted in blow back we are still paying for today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  14. @Rafer Janders: Accessing CIA computers which were loaned to the Senate Committee, and were on a CIA administered network, is “breaking into” now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  15. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Crazy people who write crazy sounding things get mocked and derided.

    So the DHS didn’t label returning veterans, groups opposed to illegal immigration, and people with pro-life bumper stickers as “Domestic Terrorists”?

    You need to tell your government to chill before you suggest that I tone it down.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 20

  16. Jack says:

    Politicians only make a beef about domestic spying programs when they get swept up into them. They could care less when it only effects the lowly people who’s votes they need to get reelected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    This is just another example of how governmental agencies feel empowered by the Obama administration

    Because, of course, to the extent that any of this accused behavior is actually going on, it certainly could not have already been going on when Obama assumed office. Is that really your claim?

    Oh, I forgot — you’re one of those people who know so little about government that they think civil servants care what the President wants….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    501(c)(3) exemptions apply to…

    What does that have to do with the alleged Tea Party targeting? Those organizations weren’t applying for 501(c)3, they were applying for 501(c)4. Different rules.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  19. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT:

    they were applying for 501(c)4. Different rules.

    Even better!

    501(c)(4) organizations may inform the public on controversial subjects and attempt to influence legislation relevant to its program and, unlike 501(c)(3) organizations, they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as their primary activity is the promotion of social welfare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  20. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: Oh, yeah…I remember now…all those stories before 2009 about the IRS targeting conservatives, the DOJ targeting reporters, the EPA targeting farmers, DHS classifying veterans as domestic terrorists…

    Funny, I just can’t find any of them. My google fu must be off today. Please show me the examples.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m of two minds on this one.

    On the one hand, there’s a major separation of powers issue here. The CIA is (at least nominally) part of the Executive Branch, and for them to spy on Congress not only messes with the “no domestic operations rule, but brings up a major “separation of powers” issue. Remember the mess when the FBI went after Representative William Jefferson (D-LA)? When they went to search his office, with a warrant, it nearly triggered a Constitutional crisis.

    But on the other hand… the network was owned, set up, and managed by the CIA. Who in their right mind would have trusted it in the first place?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    Funny, I just can’t find any of them.

    I almost added a paragraph to my earlier reply about how every epidemiologist knows that a sudden increase in reported incidence in X is almost always due to a change in the reporting mechanism, not a change in the prevalence of X. But I deleted it, because it sounded condescending. My mistake.

    The alternative hypothesis is that what has changed during the Obama administration is people’s willingness to blow whistles and/or the government’s diligence at self-policing. There is every bit as much evidence for this hypothesis as there is for your preferred hypothesis. It doesn’t even have to be anything about the administrations, past or present, that produced the change — it just has to have changed.

    Until more data are in, I expect you will stick to your conspiracy theories and I will stick with Occam’s Razor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    as long as their primary activity is the promotion of social welfare

    A) Exactly. As in, unlike Tea Party groups.
    B) That’s what the regs say; the actual law is much more restrictive, but the IRS has traditionally been lenient, allowing some politicking on the side if it really is a social welfare organization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  24. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: And Occam’s Razor says:

    Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

    Wouldn’t my assertion that the administration is pushing these incidents be much simpler and with fewer assumptions than “people’s willingness to blow whistles and/or the government’s diligence at self-policing.”? Additionally, your hypothesis “people’s willingness to blow whistles” adds support to mine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  25. wr says:

    @Jack: “hey may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as their primary activity is the promotion of social welfare.”

    Yes, and it’s up to the IRS employees to figure out what is and is not a “primary activity,” which is why some of these applications took a long time to process. That’s your giant conspiracy there — a poorly written statute with insufficient guidance for the bureaucrats to interpret.

    Pretty terrifying, I know.

    And the horrible, ghastly punishments inflicted on these poor groups who only wanted to be able to spend their money on political campaigns without paying taxes — some of them had to wait to be granted tax exempt status. It’s kind of like the torture Republicans cheer for as long as it’s inflicted on brown people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @edmondo:

    LOL- I joke. No one gets fired for gross incompetence in the Obama Administration.

    That reminds me, did Dick Cheney get fired for lying to get public and congressional support to go to war in Iraq?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  27. wr says:

    @Jack: “Wouldn’t my assertion that the administration is pushing these incidents be much simpler and with fewer assumptions than “people’s willingness to blow whistles and/or the government’s diligence at self-policing.”?”

    Sure, Unless you were aware that there is a large set of institutional grifters out there making a fortune separating right wing rubes from their money by making them terrified of the black guy in the White House, starting with Fox News and going from there.

    So yes, if you are completely unaware of anything in the world, then your assumption would make perfect sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ edmundo

    LOL- I joke. No one gets fired for gross incompetence in the Obama Administration.

    I remember how quickly National Security Advisor Rice was fired after the worst national security failure in our history left thousands of Americans dead on our own soil.

    Oh, wait…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  29. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: Doesn’t the IRS actually have to PROVE that assertion. You cannot prove that assertion by broadly denying anything with Tea Party, Conservative, or Pro-Israel in the name.

    Thus without proof, they deliberately targeted all groups for further scrutiny simply because of words they didn’t like in their name.

    As I said before

    “The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/irs-admits-targeting-conservatives-for-tax-scrutiny-in-2012-election/2013/05/10/3b6a0ada-b987-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html

    So, to call me a liar for saying “The IRS has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies to include conservative groups, Tea Party groups and pro-Israel groups.” is blatantly false.

    Who are you to say that Tea Party groups don’t promote social welfare?

    Social welfare involves among others, the well-being of the entire society…concerned with the quality of life that includes factors such as the quality of the environment (air, soil, water), level of crime, extent of drug abuse, availability of essential social services, as well as religious and spiritual aspects of life.

    Doesn’t a reduction in size and scope of the federal government, a primary column of the Tea Party, effect the quality of life in our society? You can argue for or against that policy, but there is no doubt that it does effect society. Thus it is social welfare.

    Virginia Tea Party Patriots (VTPP) is a statewide tea party federation of local, non-partisan patriot groups established to advance and strengthen the Founding principles and God-given rights predicated in the U.S. and Virginia Constitution. Our mission is to encourage and facilitate citizen participation in the political process and empower all citizens with a voice and influence in demanding Constitutional governance. VTPP will help local, independent tea party/patriot groups grow in numbers and influence and nurture communication and collaboration among Virginia tea party and patriot groups.

    Charter:
    Engage citizens to take a pro-active, vigorous, peaceful and constructive role in preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States.

    Educate the citizenry and our children on the Constitution, Founding principles and the political process.

    Mobilize citizenry to assert a strong, unified and influential voice in their constitutional republic.

    Reestablish proper checks and balances between federal and state government.

    Provide a central clearinghouse where local patriot groups and tea parties can share information, promote events, and collaborate.

    Assist individuals who desire to start a tea party/patriot group in their communities with the tools, resources and knowledge necessary to get started.

    Support the growth of local tea party and patriot groups.

    Collaborate on national or statewide issues to have a greater impact.

    Develop partnerships with other activist organizations and vendors who can be a resource to local tea parties.

    That looks like social welfare to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  30. Jack says:

    @al-Ameda: The same way every allied nation and their intelligence agencies lied?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  31. Jack says:

    @wr: TheTeaParty.net applied for tax-exempt status three years ago and is still waiting approval.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    @al-Ameda: The same way every allied nation and their intelligence agencies lied?

    Well, Jack, the difference is that Cheney had the empirical results of the weapons inspections that showed that there were no WMDs – that Iraq presented no serious threat to the United States. Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld also strongly sold the idea that Iraq presented a serious nuclear threat to America – again, proven wrong by inspections.

    The Administration had this information and ignored it, went to war any way.

    You’re welcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  33. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Fairly classic example of how nobody likes profiling *when it’s applied to them.* A whole political movement adopts a name/phrase/meme (whatever you want to call it). A government organization tasked by law to ensure that groups applying for tax-exempt status don’t engage in political activity looks closely at groups using that politically charged name/phrase/meme is apparently a horrible infringement, a conspiracy to steal the country, and evidence of what criminals that horrid Democrat in the White House employs.

    Most of those same folks think it’s just fine for places in Texas to pass laws saying the police can demand citizenship papers while they try and catch illegals, because, you know, that’s only brown people being profiled. They also tend to get pissy when a random TSA check process pulls grandma (or a kid) out of the security line for extra screening while that guy in the headdress walks right through. What the hell is government doing?

    And don’t get me started on NYC’s stop and frisk drug policies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  34. Rafer Janders says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Accessing CIA computers which were loaned to the Senate Committee, and were on a CIA administered network, is “breaking into” now?

    According to John Brennan, who denied it at the time, yes. He’s what he said back when these allegations first surfaced:

    As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s—that’s just beyond the—you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Accessing CIA computers which were loaned to the Senate Committee, and were on a CIA administered network, is “breaking into” now?

    Dianne Feinstein also believes the answer to that question may be “yes”:

    The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as Executive Order 120003, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. edmondo says:

    @anjin-san:

    I remember how quickly National Security Advisor Rice was fired after the worst national security failure in our history left thousands of Americans dead on our own soil.

    Oh, wait…

    So we agree: Bush = Obama. You will get no argument from me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  37. anjin-san says:

    @ edmondo

    Just direct me to the graves of the thousands of Americans who have been murdered on our own soil by terrorists during the Obama years, then we will agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    That looks like social welfare to me.

    To a person who lives outside the Foxverse, it looks like a conservative PAC.

    PS – People droning on endlessly about what great patriots they are – kinda pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  39. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    Wouldn’t my assertion that the administration is pushing these incidents be much simpler and with fewer assumptions than “people’s willingness to blow whistles and/or the government’s diligence at self-policing.”?

    No — because I know how the executive branch works. Your hypothesis requires a conspiracy of hundreds if not thousands of people to promote the administration’s agenda covertly while working side by side with people who would not participate in nor help conceal that conspiracy. My hypothesis requires ordinary social motivations and mechanisms to continue to operate as usual.

    As for whistleblowers, that against requires you to first assume that nothing worth blowing a whistle about was going on under GWB or his predecessors. Really? You believe that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  40. Pinky says:

    Let me guess…the President is going to condemn this, announce that the first he heard about it is when he saw it on the news, vow to fight against this, and in two weeks he’ll be listing it as “another Republican fake scandal”. And 80% of the left will list it among “Republican fake scandals”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  41. steve says:

    I think it is kind of cute that some people actually believe that a few of those Tea Party groups were not primarily political groups. There is hope that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy will live on in our culture.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    You cannot prove that assertion by broadly denying anything with Tea Party, Conservative, or Pro-Israel in the name.

    Come on, Jack, try to keep up. The allegation is not that groups with litmus-test terms in their names were DENIED anything — it’s that they were subjected to a closer level of scrutiny before having their case decided on the merits. The ‘harm’ being alleged here is mere delay, with a side order of “…but those guys got away with it”.

    I have not yet seen any evidence that a group deserving of 501(c)(4) status under the regs was improperly denied such status. Some of them may have had to wait longer than other groups did. Some of them were asked a lot of annoying questions. Some of them had their application data improperly disclosed, for which the responsible government parties should be prosecuted and punished. But that’s it — that’s the whole ‘scandal’ here. Other than the improper disclosure — which would be rendered moot when the applications was actually approved — there is no significant harm here to Freedom or Liberty or Murrica.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    So, to call me a liar for saying “The IRS has been spotlighted as “targeting” domestic enemies to include conservative groups, Tea Party groups and pro-Israel groups.” is blatantly false.

    Only if you believe they had something to apologize for. I don’t. It was a bad political attempt at damage control that backfired; they should have stuck to their guns.

    Who are you to say that Tea Party groups don’t promote social welfare?

    I didn’t. I said that groups with “Tea Party” in their name are, prima facie, deserving of closer scrutiny to determine whether they are primarily political activism or social welfare organizations. This is a no-brainer. The same would be true of groups with “Democrats for ___” in their name, or “Socialist Platform for ___” in their name.

    Doesn’t a reduction in size and scope of the federal government, a primary column of the Tea Party, effect the quality of life in our society?

    Nope, not even if you reduce your standard from ‘effect’ to ‘affect’. The rule is that if THAT is the mechanism you have in mind for improving welfare, you don’t qualify for 501(c)(4).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  44. rudderpedals says:

    One wonders if this bit of freelancing was limited to the IG’s five.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. wr says:

    @Jack: ” TheTeaParty.net applied for tax-exempt status three years ago and is still waiting approval.”

    So? I don’t know who the hell these people are. For all I know they’re another bunch of sleazy crooks, just like most of the Tea Party groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jack: Silly Jack. Only LIBERAL 501c(4) groups are interested in social welfare. That’s why such blatantly political groups like Organizing For Action, formerly Obama For America and owner of the barackobama.com web site, are registered under it. Other liberal groups that won that status include Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Progress Florida, Patriot Majority USA, and Americans United for Change.

    You see, only LIBERAL groups are interested in “promoting social welfare,’ so only they should have such protections. Conservative groups aren’t interested in promoting liberal causes, so they obviously shouldn’t have such protections.

    Which has jack squat to do with the CIA and its kinda sorta spying on the Senate, but seems to be important to a lot of people here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    On some level, I find myself agreeing with Drum’s schadenfreude. Neither the Senate Intelligence Committee nor its counterpart in the House have seemed to be overly concerned about either the surveillance activities of the NSA and other agencies or the activities that the CIA engaged in overseas as part of the “War On Terror” during the Bush Administration up until this point.

    Why do I feel a certain amount of schadenfreude about white people getting all up in arms about the TSA’s policies concerning searches at airports? Most white people couldn’t have cared less one way or the other about “Stop and Frisk” until they were subjected to it.

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  48. beth says:

    @wr: I’m not sure there’s any expectation of how fast applications for tax exemption are approved. We’ve seen that the government, especially when subjected to cost cutting, becomes less nimble at performing their duties. Ask the vets waiting for treatment through the VA or look up how often the USDA inspects meat plants. Hell, I had a relative who went totally blind and it took over two years to be approved for disability and Medicaid.

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  49. Rob in CT says:

    The dominant reaction I’m having is schadenfreude, really.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about domestic surveilance in general (though I never worked up the same anger over it as I did over the war & torture, which I hold to be worse). But I just can’t help grinning at the idea that these Senators got snooped on too and now they’re all indignant. DiFi is the posterchild, of course. There’s a certain beauty to it.

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  50. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    And 80% of the left will list it among “Republican fake scandals”.

    Sure, I can help:
    ” … And 80% of the left right will list it among “Republican fake the worst scandals in American history, and will demand an investigation into when the president ordered this ”.

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  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Only LIBERAL 501c(4) groups are interested in social welfare.

    “Interested in social welfare” is not the legal standard that applies under the regs. As you know, but bait-and-switch seems to be your hobby. That’s cool; everyone should have a hobby.

    That’s why such blatantly political groups like Organizing For Action, formerly Obama For America and owner of the barackobama.com web site, are registered under it.

    “Blatantly political” isn’t the standard either. Are their activities predominantly political, or not? I’m blatantly pro-Nationals, but the majority of my activities have nothing to do with baseball at all.

    Still waiting for you to list those organizations that were denied 501(c)(4) status but deserve it…

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  52. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: Probably. And when they do, I’ll make fun of them for it.

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  53. Matt says: