Just who is Watching the Watchers?
The CIA has been embroiled in a recent run of scandal, and a repeat of the 1975-1976 Church Committee–which put in rules and restrictions on the Central Intelligence Agency to such a degree that many claim led to the situation which allowed for the attacks of September 11, 2001 on New York City and The Pentagon to take place.
While CIA Director Leon Panetta stated in his confirmation hearings that he was not interested in investigating the previous administration or the CIA in looking for high crimes or misdemeanors, the Senate Intelligence Committee may have other ideas entirely.
The widely denounced use of secret prisons, extreme rendition, and torture in the War on Terror by the CIA are the issues that have prompted the inquiry, but how far down the rabbit hole are Senator Dianne Feinstein and her congressional committee-members willing to go?
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the CIA was brought to task for failures to prevent the attacks, and a vast restructuring of the US Intelligence Agencies took place. One of the issues that was at hand then were “jurisdictional hedgemonies”, where competing agencies would fight amongst each other for various programs, initiatives, and projects–and with them, the funding that follows–while they apparently ignored dire warnings coming from select sources regarding the impending threat from Al Qaeda.
Unlike those proceedings, which were essentially about the CIA’s failure to act, this investigation will be about the CIA’s actions–more in line with the Church Committee of the mid-1970’s. One of the results of the Church Committee was for George H.W. Bush to replace William Colby as CIA Director. The Church Committee uncovered various covert actions, including the attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, General René Schneider of Chile and President John F. Kennedy’s plan to use the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba. The Church Committee led to President Ford’s signing of Executive Order 11905, which carefully stipulated what activities the CIA were to undertake in foreign countries. Another result was that the CIA was banned from activites that took place within America–these activities were placed under the specific jurisdiction of the FBI.
This jurisdiction boundry was one of the defining problems that analysts say led to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The CIA has come under intense fire recently for various other infractions, including the prosecution of former Executive Director Dusty Foggo for Fraud, Conspiracy, and Money-Laundering in relation to the Duke Cunningham scandal, a former station chief who reportedly raped women in Algeria, and the revelation that Foggo was sharing a mistress with a suspected Russian Mole at the State Department.
The danger in a political witch hunt at the CIA is the further hampering of Intelligence Activities overseas, which could leave us vulnerable both at home and abroad.
CNN.com, Former CIA station chief target of rape inquiry, By Kevin Bohn
The LA Times, Senate to investigate CIA’s actions under Bush, by Greg Miller