TPM Livewire

Judiciary Chair: Feinstein CIA Speech The Most Important In 40 Years

Izr1dxwrfy81j4zskim7

Feinstein, who chairs the intelligence committee, accused the CIA of -- among other troubling things -- spying on Congress and seeking to circumvent the oversight process. An investigation is under way.

Leahy said Feinstein had "spoken to our conscience." The rest of his speech is below.

I think back, Mr. President, the very first vote I cast in this body was for the Church Committee, which went into the excesses of the CIA and others agencies, everything from assassinations to spying on those who were protesting the war in Vietnam. There was a famous George Tames picture where then Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John Stennis, was berating Senator Frank Church for proposing this committee saying that he, Senator Stennis, could find out what he wanted to find out, but didn't really want to know everything. I was -- I stand behind George Stennis when he took that picture in my first caucus. There was pressure on our junior members, I was the most junior member of the Senate at the time, not to vote for the Church Committee.

Senator Mike Mansfield told me, as Senator Fritz Mondale did and others, that the Senate is bigger than any one Senator. We come and go. The Senate lasts. If we do not assistant -- stand up for the protection of the separation of powers and our ability to do oversight, especially when conduct has happened that is in all likelihood criminal conduct on the part of a government agency, then what do we stand for?

We are supposed to be the conscience of the Nation. The Senator from California, Senator Feinstein, has spoken to our conscience, to every one of us, 100 Senators, men and women, both parties. She has spoken to our conscience. Now let's stand up for this country. Let's stand up as United States Senators should and as the Senator from California has.