Americans are now beginning to share the same fear and loathing of the CIA as most of the rest of the world has for generations. It’s hard for most of us to accept the world’s revulsion of the CIA as justified, because we have been led to believe that the CIA has protected us through the Cold War and is in the forefront of the War on Terror. Historically the CIA has been as fatal for democracies in the world as they have been for dictatorships, but the rumblings in the halls of the Senate indicate that maybe the agency is a much a threat to our government as any other.
What would cause the current head of the Senate Intelligence Committee to publicly accuse the CIA of illegal and unconstitutional acts? Sen. Feinstein, outraged at the Agency’s spying on Congress and attempts to intimidate Congressional staffers, is hardly a critic. In fact, she has been in lock-step with President Obama’s many attempts to shield the spy agency from real scrutiny over the many suspected illegal acts attributed to it. Maybe, just maybe, there has been a sea change somewhere in government and the virtually unfettered power of the agency is being challenged.
Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy both feared the power of the CIA and sought to end the agency. Many knowledgeable people know the CIA’s fingerprints were all over the Kennedy assassination (for example, Oswald and Ruby were both on the CIA payroll at one time, and the man Kennedy fired as head of the CIA – Dulles – ran the Warren Commission). Every President since then has given the agency carte blanche and when the “war” on terror replaced the “cold war” its powers were expanded to openly allow torture (something only secretly allowed before).
It will be interesting to see where the current tide against the CIA leads, but if history is a predictor then this wave will break against the wall of fear that the agency has always used as a shield. The only time the CIA has been restrained is when they have been caught interfering with domestic politics. We can all thank Eric Snowden if this is so … another indication that his disclosures of CIA and NSA abuses are the act of a patriot.