Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Elite conflict as pointless politics

I've been too busy to post much here, but I thought that Feinstein's speech on the CIA was well worth reading.

I should note that for most, if not all, of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, the now acting general counsel was a lawyer in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center—the unit within which the CIA managed and carried out this program. From mid-2004 until the official termination of the detention and interrogation program in January 2009, he was the unit’s chief lawyer. He is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.

And now this individual is sending a crimes report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff—the same congressional staff who researched and drafted a report that details how CIA officers—including the acting general counsel himself—provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice about the program.

So Feinstein is finding out that being a Senator doesn't protect her from having her documents read and seized and her people threatened with media leaks and trumped up legal action, just like anyone else.

Does this matter to anyone not in the elite? I don't see how it does. Feinstein herself is horrible on these issues and has voted repeatedly to inflict this kind of regime on everyone else. If she wins, she wins protection for herself and for her cronies only. It's important to her, and it's important to the legal advisor for torture at the CIA, but there's no real public policy as such involved in this presumptive Constitutional crisis, only a question of whether one set of elites is going to guard their privilege against another.

It's a perfect illustration of the pointlessness of formal American politics at this time. No important problems can be addressed -- even now some other Senators are concluding a climate change talkathon and being congratulated for bravely bringing up the issue. But they couldn't propose actual legislation to do anything about it, because everyone knows that a U.S. Senator is as helpless to do anything involving legislation as anyone else.

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