Friday, March 14, 2014

Time to shut down the CIA?

If the Central Intelligence Agency, filled with America’s super spies, cannot fulfill its mission within the confines of the U.S. Constitution, it’s time to shut its doors.
The CIA was formed by Congress in 1947 to provide American policymakers with information about the nation’s external enemies. World War II had just ended, and Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin was rapidly showing his colors as the next global threat.
    In creating the CIA, however, Congress clearly recognized the potential for harm in the collection of information in secret. The agency director is clearly restricted by law to “collect intelligence through human sources and by other appropriate means, except that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shall have no police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers or internal security functions.”
    The CIA has not always avoided controversy. Because most of its operations are executed in secret, it’s hard to know exactly what the CIA has accomplished in more than 65 years. While its successes may not have received publicity, its mistakes, such as the Bay of Pigs, the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954, active CIA support for a brutal Chilean military junta, and missed signals about everything from the Iranian revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union, have made headlines.
    Now, the CIA finds itself under fire not just from its enemies, but from one of its best friends. In what can only be described as a blistering speech, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a longtime supporter of government intelligence agencies, accused the CIA of acting illegally in conducting a search that also “may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”
    The CIA, she charged, conducted an unauthorized search of a stand-alone computer network used by the committee to gain access to classified CIA documents, and then secretly removed documents from those computers.
    Congressional committees like the one Feinstein chairs were established to give the legislature a means to oversee agencies like the CIA that operate outside public scrutiny. Violation of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers by the CIA sounds more like the action of a secret police force than a constitutionally limited public servant.
    If the CIA did, in fact, access and tamper with Senate computers, it has become a rogue agency, one whose ability to operate in secret makes it incredibly powerful and incredibly dangerous to American freedoms. The only answer for such a rogue agency is to end it.

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