The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday held a hearing, ostensibly to investigate various issues raised about the NSA's activities. What the hearing primarily achieved instead was to underscore what a farce the notion of Congressional oversight over the NSA is.
In particular, the current chair of the Senate Committee created in the mid-1970s to oversee the intelligence community just so happens to be one of the nation's most steadfast and blind loyalists of and apologists for the National Security State: Dianne Feinstein. For years she has abused her position to shield and defend the NSA and related agencies rather than provide any meaningful oversight over it, which is a primary reason why it has grown into such an out-of-control and totally unaccountable behemoth.
Underscoring the purpose of yesterday's hearing (and the purpose of Feinstein's Committee more broadly): the witnesses the Committee first heard from were all Obama officials -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, Deputy Attorney James Cole -- who vehemently defended every aspect of the NSA. At the conclusion of their testimony, Feinstein announced that it was very, very important to hear from the two non-governmental witnesses the Committee had invited: virulent NSA defender Ben Wittes of the Brooking Institution and virulent NSA defender Timothy Edgar, a former Obama national security official. Hearing only from dedicated NSA apologists as witnesses: that's "oversight" for Dianne Feinstein and her oversight Committee.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner stated the obvious to Gen. Alexander: "a lot of Americans have lost trust in what you're doing." But of course they all spent the entire afternoon blaming Snowden and "the media" for this development rather than taking any responsibility themselves. The very idea that meaningful reform of the NSA will come out of this annexed, captured, corrupted Committee is ludicrous on its face.