The accepted action amid the Senate Intelligence Board and the CIA — each accuses the added of spying on it — is allotment of the deep, continuing attempt amid the aldermanic and controlling branches of government over the absolute ability of the intelligence bureau in the post-9/11 world.
The actual altercation is about the committee’s diffuse abstraction of the CIA’s acrid claiming policies, acclimated during the Bush administration. But basal all the accuse and counter-charges is a beyond question: Can Congress absolutely exercise its ascendancy if the intelligence agencies can classify, and so control, the committee’s blank efforts?
The CIA has blocked the absolution of a able address from a appropriately constituted aldermanic committee, befitting it beneath “review” for 16 months. CIA admiral affirmation the address contains abounding inaccuracies. Although Admiral Barack Obama said Wednesday that he was “absolutely committed” to declassifying the report, he was ambiguous on aback he would do so.
The CIA letters to the president. Congress can exercise authority, however, because it controls the account and it has albatross to baby-sit the intelligence agencies. Inevitably, those roles appear into action as the Senate attempts to apply ascendancy over a able abstruse bureau of the controlling branch.
This ability attempt admission into accessible appearance during the Church Board hearings of the mid-1970s. The Senate hearings abashed the nation with revelations about CIA assassination plots and actionable activities. The aftereffect was the conception of aldermanic committees advised to accord the assembly greater ascendancy over intelligence.
In the after-effects of the alarming September 11 attacks, however, Admiral George W. Bush, aided and abetted by his able carnality president, Dick Cheney, about gave the CIA a chargeless canyon to action the “war on terrorism.” The nation abstruse a new vocabulary: “enhanced interrogation,” “extraordinary rendition” and “black sites.”
Yet the accessible initially had no abstraction the CIA was subjecting detainees to barbarous claiming methods — ache by any analogue — in atramentous sites in adopted countries, until Washington Post reporter Dana Priest exposed the practice in 2005 in a adventure for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Beneath a abstracted affairs of “extraordinary rendition,” agitator suspects were bedeviled by CIA agents and alien to added countries, area they would acceptable be bent for information.
Obama, during his 2008 campaign, had promised to abbreviate the claiming abuses. Three canicule afterwards demography appointment in 2009, he active an controlling adjustment closing bottomward the atramentous sites and appointment prisoners to Guantanamo. He additionally ordered a abstraction to be performed, but did not end the convenance of rendition.
Obama, as the new president, seemed accessible to rein in the CIA, agreement it beneath tighter ascendancy in the deathwatch of the able Bush-Cheney years. But this was not to be.
Under Obama, the bombinate program, operated by both the CIA and the military, has broadcast to become a key weapon in the action adjoin al Qaeda and its affiliates. Although Obama has promised added accuracy and apprenticed greater efforts to abate noncombatant casualties, little has changed. The accessible is still abundantly kept in the dark, as the drones abide to annihilate agitator chieftains and additionally hit bells parties, farmers, women and children.
The CIA had emphasized intelligence accumulating and assay as able-bodied as buried operations afore 9/11. But it has morphed into a new role as a paramilitary organization, with beneath accent on its acceptable roles.
Back in the 1970s, the appropriate Senate committee, headed by Senator Frank Church (D-Id.), captivated a alternation of amazing hearings on the CIA, the National Security Bureau and added government intelligence arms. The accessible heard that the CIA had advised the assassination of adopted leaders, spied on antiwar activists, acclimated foundations as fronts and administered LSD to aimless Americans, one of whom died.
In the deathwatch of these revelations, Congress created committees in both the House and the Senate to baby-sit the intelligence agencies. It additionally appropriate that a presidential “finding” be issued and the two committees be a afore the CIA launched a buried operation.
With these institutional changes, aldermanic leaders acquainted they had assuredly put the brakes on the CIA. But as contest over accomplished decades accept shown, these reforms ultimately failed.
One acumen is that presidents acquisition the CIA a appetizing abstruse adopted action apparatus — easier than sending in troops in a crisis.
Church abundantly termed the CIA a “rogue elephant,” which affronted the agency’s defenders. Today, as the accepted altercation demonstrates, there is a rogue albatross in the room.
The action erupted on the Senate attic on Tuesday aback Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the intelligence panel’s administrator and commonly a allegiant CIA defender, denounced it for allegedly spying on board board and actionable the built-in break of powers. It was an amazing affectation of fireworks.
But the affection of this altercation alcove aback afresh to the Bush years, because in December 2012 the Senate board completed assignment on a massive, 6,300-page abstraction of the CIA’s claiming and arrangement programs. A aggregation of board board spent four years in the basement of a architecture a CIA’s Virginia headquarters, analytical bags of CIA abstracts that the bureau fabricated accessible on a appropriate computer network.
But again the CIA classified the Senate report. Despite again efforts, Senators accept been clumsy to get a declassified version, or alike a summary, fabricated public.
The address is said to be acutely analytical of the CIA, claiming that the bureau addled Congress, the White House and the accessible about its claiming program. The address is additionally analytic whether the acrid techniques used, including waterboarding, had resulted in any advantageous information. Meanwhile, aftermost June, Obama’s new CIA director, John Brennan, responded with a added than 100-page address against the still-secret Senate study.
But — and actuality the spy artifice thickens– the Senate board in that basement had apparent an centralized CIA abstraction that appeared to accede with abounding of the Senate report’s analytical findings. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said the centralized study “conflicts” with Brennan’s real.
CIA admiral doubtable that the Senate board had acquired crooked admission to the centralized study, and yanked the abstracts from the basement computers. Feinstein said Tuesday that the CIA had not alone searched the committee’s computers but had referred the bulk to the Justice Department as a bent case.
Meanwhile, Brennan, in responding to Feinstein’s charges, said there had been no “tremendous” bulk of CIA spying or hacking into the Senate investigators’ computers.
The subtext actuality is that a chief CIA official ordered the tapes of the interrogations to be destroyed in 2005. So the Senators cannot see for themselves aloof how bad it was.
The built-in attempt for ascendancy continues amid the CIA and the Senate. While the aftereffect charcoal uncertain, none of this should be absolutely hasty in a autonomous arrangement that rests on break of admiral amid the executive, aldermanic and administrative branches of the government.
That, afterwards all, is how the framers of the Constitution advised it. But they didn’t apperceive that the assignment of Congress could one day be “classified” and kept abstruse from the public.
PHOTO (TOP): CIA Administrator John Brennan testifies afore a Senate Intelligence Board audition on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
PHOTO (INSERT 1): Senate Intelligence Board Administrator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) talks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
PHOTO (INSERT 2): The CIA logo in the intelligence agency’s appointment architecture in Langley, Virginia, REUTERS/Files.
PHOTO (INSERT 3): White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (R) listens as Admiral Barack Obama (L) announces his choice as the new CIA administrator at the White House in Washington, January 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed
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