Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”     Frederick Bastiat

June 26, 2007

In Our Name

by Doug Mataconis

The Central Intelligence Agency has opened up the so-called “family jewels”, the until-now secret record of CIA actions in the 1970s that have been the subject of discussion for decades.

To say the least, the picture isn’t pretty:

WASHINGTON — The CIA released hundreds of pages of internal reports Tuesday on assassination plots, secret drug testing and spying on Americans that triggered a scandal in the mid-1970s.

The documents detail assassination plots against foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, the testing of mind-altering drugs like LSD on unwitting citizens, wiretapping of U.S. journalists, spying on civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protesters, opening of mail between the United States and the Soviet Union and China and break-ins at the homes of ex-CIA employees and others.

The 693 pages, mostly drawn from the memories of active CIA officers in 1973, were turned over at that time to three different investigative panels _ President Ford’s Rockefeller Commission, the Senate’s Church committee and the House’s Pike committee.

The panels spent years investigating and amplifying on these documents. And their public reports in the mid-1970s filled tens of thousands of pages. The scandal sullied the reputation of the intelligence community and led to new rules for the CIA, FBI and other spy agencies and new permanent committees in Congress to oversee them.

Not to mention the reputation of the United States of America and the freedoms of it’s citizens.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the value in a centralized agency for gathering and evaluating intelligence on possible foreign threats, but it seems clear that, from the beginning, the CIA crossed the line from intelligence gathering to covert spying, not only on foreigners, but also on American citizens (which was supposed to have been against the law).

It’s good that these activities are being revealed to the public, even 30 years later, but it makes one wonder what is still going on in the halls of CIA Headquarters in Langely, Virginia.

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3 Comments

  1. The Church Committee actually did a lot to react against the abuses by the CIA. In fact, as a result of the Senate’s investigation it was pretty much impossible for our intel services to provide information to police forces and vice versa, until 9/11 anyway (the inability to share data was one of the reasons some of the hijackers were able to slip through). While I’d argue that the Church Committee overreacted to what happened by placing some overly harsh restrictions on our intelligence services, I’d say that most of the committee’s actions were justified, and that many of the liberties Bush is attempting to take in circumventing those restrictions aren’t really doing us any favors…either in the current “War on Terror” or in our future.

    As I see it, a society that believes it’s acceptable for our leader to basically legalize torture and deprive suspects of their rights, whether those tactics are applied to U.S. citizens or foreign detainees, is hardly a society that embodies the rule of law or the concept of individual liberty. The Bush administration’s done a lot to push us back towards the bad old days…and a large number of people seem more than happy to let him.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 26, 2007 @ 5:27 pm
  2. I must have fallen off a turnip truck; does this mean we can’t trust our government 100%. I had to take my baseball cap off to cover my heart while whistling the Star Spangled Banner. lol from the dark side.

    Comment by T F Stern — June 26, 2007 @ 7:39 pm
  3. Don’t get me wrong, I see the value in a centralized agency for gathering and evaluating intelligence on possible foreign threats

    And if you think you can limit it to that, you’re a colossal fool.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — June 26, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

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