Opinion: The CIA, running amok for 60 years
Free Press Opinion Columnist
A public relations battle between the CIA and Congress recently erupted, when Senator Diane Feinstein, normally a staunch defender of the intelligence agencies that she oversees as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blasted the CIA for spying on and subverting the committee’s investigation of post-9/11 torture programs. She alleged that CIA officials were conducting a smear campaign in the media and attempting to intimidate the committee with false accusations of improperly obtaining a classified CIA document.
There’s a bit of hypocrisy here: Senator Feinstein fervently defended the NSA’s indiscriminate surveillance dragnet on American citizens after Edward Snowden’s revelations, but only after the dog has bitten herself is she declaring it rabid.
At the heart of this seeming tempest in a teapot is the Senate committee’s 6,500-page report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” programs during the Bush Jr. administration. Either Obama or the Senate committee could declassify this report, but the CIA is twisting all arms to keep it secret — because the officials involved in those revolting crimes would be liable to prosecution (by both American and international law), including John Brennan himself.
We know about the waterboarding and rendition to foreign torture dungeons of suspects (many of them completely innocent) after 9/11, and the ridiculous sophistry of Bush administration apparatchiks defending it; it was definitely torture when we hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding our POWs in WWII, but it’s not torture when we do it, because America is favored by God, our intentions are always noble, and we have the cleverest horde of lawyers in the world — hence we can do no wrong, or if we do, it can be plausibly justified!
Try justifying this: In a 2004 speech, venerable journalist Seymour Hersh revealed this horror at Abu Ghraib — “The women were passing messages out saying please come and kill me because of what happened … those women who were arrested with young boys, children, in cases that have been recorded, the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking.”
All under the banner of your glorious Stars and Stripes, the CIA illegally destroyed all those tapes in 2005, and has successfully kept the lid on these perverted war crimes for a decade, just as it has successfully whitewashed an endless rap sheet of crimes over the last seven decades from sabotaging Eisenhower’s peace summit with Khrushchev in 1960, orchestrating the assassination of JFK (according to E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession and a mountain range of other evidence), to fueling the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s.
Opining about the current scandal, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “This is Richard Nixon stuff … Heads should roll, people should go to jail if its true. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.” About damn time, Mr. Graham. Too bad it took a minor kerfuffle about classification privileges to elicit this declaration, while domestic assassination and dope smuggling never really raised your hackles.
There is a reason for this timidity, as former Pentagon CID (Criminal Investigative Division) officer Gene Wheaton revealed in a ground-breaking radio interview many moons ago: Congress is terrified of the CIA. Although it’s unspeakable, I believe most know quite well the truth about JFK’s murder — and probably also the “accidental” deaths of anti-war Senator Paul Wellstone and JFK Jr. Wheaton confided this: “The covert operators that I ran with would blow up a 747 with 300 people to kill one person. They are total sociopaths with no conscience whatsoever.”
In 1963, former president Harry Truman published an editorial in the Washington Post, lamenting his decision to create the CIA in 1947: “For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government … its operational duties [should] be terminated or properly used elsewhere … There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”
That was published on Dec. 22, exactly one month after JFK was struck down in Dallas. I’m sure the timing was no coincidence. Routine torture and the monstrous rape of children should be a shadow that shames all true Americans. We’ve swept too much of this Gestapo crap under the rug; it’s become a stinking bulge impossible to ignore, only encouraging the CIA to commit more crimes with total impunity.
However shocking, the Senate report should be declassified with no convenient redactions, and it should lead to Truman’s suggested curtailment of the bloody CIA and all of its proliferating, unaccountable alphabet brothers. If it doesn’t, we might as well replace Old Glory with a swastika-spangled banner.
GJ Free Press columnist Travis Kelly is a web/graphic designer, writer and cartoonist in Grand Junction. See his work or contact him at http://www.traviskelly.com.
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