Obama’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” [World Socialist Website]

14 March 2014

The speech delivered Tuesday on the Senate floor by Senator Dianne Feinstein provides clear and direct evidence of crimes against the US Constitution and the democratic rights of the American people, implicating top officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the White House, up to and including the president. Feinstein’s allegations of CIA intimidation, obstruction and spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs, constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional basis for impeachment.

Feinstein has longstanding and close ties to the intelligence agencies, which she has categorically defended throughout the months of exposures of illegal spying by the National Security Agency. Yet on Tuesday she gave an hour-long speech in which she charged the CIA with spying on and withholding documents from Congress as part of an attempted cover-up of the program of torture the agency carried out under President George W. Bush.

In the course of her remarks, she provided a detailed narrative of the CIA’s criminal actions, including the attempt by CIA Director John Brennan to intimidate the Senate Intelligence Committee and derail its investigation into the Bush-era crimes by accusing committee staffers of stealing classified documents and demanding that the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation. (Brennan, as director of counter-terrorism under Bush, is implicated in the torture program.)

The portrait that emerges is of an intelligence agency that operates outside of all legal constraints, rejects any genuine congressional oversight, and functions as a law unto itself.

The haste with which the US media has moved to bury Feinstein’s remarks—which it has generally ascribed to a mere “turf war” between the Senate and the CIA—is itself an indication of the fundamental nature of the crimes outlined by the senator and the complicity of the corporate-controlled media in those crimes.

What is involved is nothing less than an open attack on the constitutional order that arose on the basis of the American Revolution, which is founded on the “separation of powers” and a system of “checks and balances” between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government—something the founders deemed essential to prevent the emergence of a dictatorship. The CIA’s subversion of the Senate probe into its activities—including its refusal to sanction the publication of a declassified version of the Intelligence Committee’s 6,300 page report—is a milestone in the establishment of a de facto dictatorship of the military/intelligence establishment over the people.

That the White House is complicit is clear both in Feinstein’s own account of the events and in the response from the Obama administration to the charges. On Wednesday, President Obama sought to pose as a neutral arbiter in the “issues that are going back and forth between the Senate committee and the CIA.” He added, however, that “Brennan has referred them to the appropriate authorities,” making clear that he backs the CIA director and the agency’s decision to file a criminal complaint against the Senate Intelligence Committee. His remarks echoed those of his press secretary, Jay Carney, who said Tuesday that Obama had “great confidence” in Brennan.

The list of crimes and those implicated include:

[…see original article for list…]

These actions go far beyond the extremely serious crimes carried out by Nixon in the Watergate scandal, which led to his resignation in 1974 in the face of near-certain impeachment and removal from office. Revealed are, at the very least, violations of international and domestic law (torture), the destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, violation of the separation of powers, and illegal spying.

They implicate the top CIA officials throughout this period as well as the leading White House officials, including Obama himself. They have been carried out by Obama’s appointees and people who work very closely with him. Brennan was Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser during his first term.

All of this has been conducted behind the backs of the American people. Feinstein herself, as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has long sanctioned the crimes of the state and is complicit in their cover-up, making a public statement only after she felt compelled to do so in the face of the CIA’s legal attack. The senators had, in her words, done everything they could “to resolve this dispute in a discreet and respectful way” — i.e., behind closed doors.

At the same time, under both Bush and Obama, a massive unconstitutional spying apparatus has been constructed, partially revealed by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Again, the entire state is complicit, including the Obama White House and Feinstein, who has publicly accused Snowden of carrying out an “act of treason.” The president has also openly acknowledged unilaterally ordering the assassination of US citizens.

Impeachment proceedings against government officials are fully warranted, but by no means sufficient. These crimes against the American people must not go unpunished. All of the facts, including the names of all of the perpetrators and accomplices, must be published.

This would begin to peel back the conspiracy of silence between the White House, the intelligence agencies, Congress, the courts and the media that has given the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon a green light to shred the Bill of Rights and establish the framework for totalitarian rule.

Nearly a decade-and-a-half has passed since the stolen election of 2000. Since then, the attack on democratic rights has escalated, under Democratic no less than Republican administrations. It has been driven by the staggering growth of social inequality, on the one hand, and the increasing turn to militarism and war on the other. The record has demonstrated that no section of the political establishment retains any serious commitment to democratic rights.

The defense of democratic rights is a class question. The emergence of dictatorial forms of rule and the uncontrolled activity of the intelligence agencies are rooted in the capitalist system and the interests of the ruling class. Democracy is not compatible with endless war and social counterrevolution.

To prevent dictatorship and defend its democratic rights, the working class must organize itself independently in a struggle against the existing political and economic system on the basis of a socialist program.

Joseph Kishore and Barry Grey

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/14/pers-m14.html

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