CIA: Eight Years

Beyond chilling. 

The AP reports today that the CIA and the Bush Administration, for eight years, decided not to inform Congress of one of its secret programs (still publicly undisclosed). Eight years. And the CIA didn’t even tell Leon Panetta about the program until five months into his tenure as CIA director for the Obama Administration!

Money quote from the AP article:

CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a “very serious” covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday. Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly.

Prior to Barack Obama, we had a lawless president grossly abusing his authority, and a CIA in the pocket of that president, didn’t we? And given what the Bush Administration has defended as sane policies in public, can you imagine the horrors that were being withheld from Congress? For eight years. Eight years!

Eight!

I just feel sick to read this:

Schakowsky described Panetta as “stunned” that he had not been informed of the program until nearly five months into his tenure as director. Panetta had learned of the program only the day before informing the lawmakers, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss the program publicly.

Is this the United States we’re talking about? I’m absolutely appalled. Eight years! I don’t know what else to say. Eight.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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7 Responses to CIA: Eight Years

  1. jonolan says:

    And your point is what exactly? Why SHOULD Congress be told everything that the CIA is doing to protect the US?

    You seem to forget that Congress has only limited oversight of the CIA. They report to the President, not Congress, but Congress is allowed a certain amount of limit control for the purposes of checks and balances.

    And it’s not like Congress could or can be trusted with such information.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Jonolan:

    Wow. I’m surprised anyone would defend the absence of Congressional oversight with regard to the intelligence services.

    We have co-equal branches of government for a reason, and Congress funds the CIA.

    And the CIA can’t do things contrary to the laws passed by Congress, nor can its members violate the Constitution.

    Maybe you prefer an authoritarian form of government to a democratically supervised and accountable one?

    I think that if it turns out that this is related to Cheney’s office, and (as one rumor has it) the CIA was murdering people (in or outside of the country), that we need to find out.

    But I suppose that your point of view will be the one that conservative radio will adopt, further attempting to erode the line between a representative and democratic form of government—and an authoritarian form of government (in the United States).

    —Santi

  3. jonolan says:

    Before I go into defending the idea that sharing that amount of classified information with that many people with personal agendas is stupid and harmful to America, let me point out something that I just learned a bit ago.

    Panetta denies ever making the statement that the CIA did, in fact, mislead Congress!

    It makes more sense when I realized that the statement that Panetta had said the CIA had misled Congress was released right before the CIA Appropriations Bill went into debate in Congress. One the points of contention is whether the whole of Congress should be given all the information on CIA operations.

    This is looking more and more like beltway politics as usual…

  4. santitafarella says:

    Jonolan:

    Well, I for one hope the story is false. It’s horrible to think that my government has elements within it not accountable to Congress. Please realize, however, that if the story pans out, it means nobody in Congress was told about a very serious program. Nobody. Absorb that, and what it means for a democracy.

    We should not have people within our government capable of acting like members of the Sopranos.

    —Santi

  5. jonolan says:

    It doesn’t bother me in the least that that my government has elements within it not accountable to Congress for their day-to-day activities.

    Congress isn’t fit to provide such detailed oversight, as they have proven time and time again.

  6. santitafarella says:

    Jonolan:

    What then is your relation to democracy? Do you think that the American system is fundamentally flawed?

    You think that there should be things that the administrative branch knows, that the legislative branch doesn’t? (And vice-versa?)

    Also, do you think that there should be elements that are functioning, within the government, that neither the executive nor legislative branches know about?

    Please recall that Panetta was not told for five months.

    —Santi

  7. jonolan says:

    Democracy is immaterial to the matter at hand, santi. What the Executive knows v. what the Legislative knows is not a function of democracy.

    As for the American system is fundamentally flawed – of course it’s fundamentally flawed and horribly so. Our Founding Fathers knew that and warned of it; it’s just the best system we could come up with.

    Hell! Democracy, direct or representative, is a horribly flawed means of governing a nation; it’s just better than anything else that mankind has thought up.

    “You think that there should be things that the administrative branch knows, that the legislative branch doesn’t? (And vice-versa?)”

    If we limit the discussion to details of sensitive operations, YES!

    That being said, I’d prefer the Judicial to have more oversight of these things as opposed to Legislative or Executive.

    As for Panetta lack of knowledge – He was something of surprise appointee and had not Intel background. It might – I only say might – have taken that long for him to get the necessary clearances to know all the data.

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