We're workin' our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we're gliding down the highway, when in fact we're slip sliding away
- Paul Simon, Slip Sliding Away
Paul Simon wasn’t singing about our liberty in his song, but the words apply to what’s happening in the Senate and to our Constitution.
While President Obama was poorly reading cue cards between two ferns for a comedy website, a battle was brewing in the Senate. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., accused the Central Intelligence Agency “of secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct.”
If true, it is a dangerous turn of events. But Feinstein wasn’t done. The Washington Post reported, “Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a ‘defining moment’ for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited ‘grave concerns’ that the CIA had ‘violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.’”
These are serious charges, or at least they seem like they are. But are they really?
Missing from Sen. Feinstein’s criticisms was any mention of the person in charge of the branch of government in which the CIA resides – the president of the United States.
What Feinstein is charging is that the executive branch of government is spying on and interfering with the co-equal legislative branch in an attempt to hinder the legislative branch’s explicit power of oversight. In other words, a direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.
But Feinstein, like every other Democrat critical of administration abuses, can’t bring herself to direct that criticism where it should reside – the Oval Office. Americans are outraged at the National Security Agency for spying on us and creating a database of all our electronic communications, but none of this makes is way to the NSA’s ultimate boss. For all of Feinstein’s bluster over the CIA spying on her staff, she defended the NSA’s spying and directed none of her remarks to the president. It’s as if the CIA is its own branch of government.
In reality, either the CIA and NSA are following orders from the president, or they’ve gone rogue in a way that makes Watergate look like a parking infraction. Yet Sen. Feinstein and her fellow Democrats stop short of connecting those dots and demanding the man in charge answer those accusations.
Why? Partisan politics, of course.
Even MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked White House Spokesman Jay Carney about it, saying, “…is the administration not troubled -- this is not Darrell Issa making this allegation; this is Dianne Feinstein, Mark Udall, Patrick Leahy, Harry Reid all taking to the Senate floor, making this allegation about the CIA. Is the President even troubled by the allegation?” (Emphasis added.)
Carney, of course, claimed he could not address this because of an ongoing investigation – the same response he uses for all these corruption and abuse-of- power stories. After one more, “This is not Darrell Issa; this is not some partisan hit,” Carney brushed it off again and moved on.
If we had an honest media, this matter would be in 50-point type above the fold in every newspaper in the country and lead every nightly newscast. But we have a media that feigned outrage over the administration tapping the phones of 20 Associated Press reporters for a week or two, then dropped the matter as though it never happened. That the White House is treating members of Congress, even those of the president’s party, the same way only makes them feel like part of the club. You only hurt the ones you love, right?
It’s cliché, but no less true, to say at this point that being a Democrat trumps everything in modern politics, even spying on other Democrats. You’d think President George W. Bush personally ordered the actions of low-level military prison guards on the other side of the planet and personally cut off the fingers of everyone at Gitmo by the way Democrats reacted to those stories. He was president, therefore he was responsible.
In reality, bored guards acted stupidly of their own volition and three, count ‘em – three – terrorists had water poured up their noses. Yet Democrats and the media portrayed Abu Ghraib and waterboarding as earth-shattering revelations worthy of non-stop investigations and wild speculation.
Conversely, Barack Obama’s administration has weaponized the IRS against political opponents, forced the sale of guns to Mexican drug cartels without any supervision, engaged in mass surveillance of every American, tapped journalists’ phones and email, and now spied on Members of Congress charged with overseeing the actions of intelligence agencies … and what’s the top story of the week? The disappearance of a plane in Asia. Tragic? Yes. Newsworthy? Certainly. More important than the executive branch spying on the legislative branch? Hell no!
That the Democrats who leveled the charges against the CIA won’t hold the CIA’s boss responsible on any level is the most disturbing part of this whole affair. Decrying the abuse of power only when you are the target of it is bad enough. But when the charge comes from a member of the party that cheers and actively enables these abuses the whole thing has a bit of Frankenstein’s monster irony to it.
Unfortunately, while Feinstein grapples with her monster, we’re left to deal with the monster the American people created by empowering Democrats, who, in turn, ceded untold power to a president all too eager to circumvent Congress and rule by decree. None of this mattered to Democrats until – as is always the case when someone amasses too much power – the power turned on them. But so fierce is their loyalty to the progressive agenda, even that outrage is muted and walled off from the real perpetrator.
If the reins are not pulled, if that balance of power is not restored, this president, or the next, or the one after that, eventually, will be emboldened to the point of no return. If the separate branches of government are not restored to being co-equal they will drift further toward a master and servant state. At which point our liberty, now slip sliding away, will be but a distant memory.