For those of you too young to remember some of the antics of J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the FBI. Some of the actions of the FBI and intelligence community under President Obama are reminiscent of those actions.
The website biography includes the following about J. Edgar Hoover:
During the Cold War, Hoover intensified his personal anti-Communist, anti-subversive stance and increased the FBI’s surveillance activities. Frustrated over limitations placed on the Justice Department’s investigative capabilities, he created the Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. The group conducted a series of covert, and oftentimes illegal, investigations designed to discredit or disrupt radical political organizations. Initially, Hoover ordered background checks on government employees to prevent foreign agents from infiltrating the government. Later, COINTELPRO went after any organization Hoover considered subversive, including the Black Panthers, the Socialist Workers Party and the Ku Klux Klan.
Hoover also used COINTELPRO’s operations to conduct his own personal vendettas against political adversaries in the name of national security. Labeling Martin Luther King “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” Hoover ordered around-the-clock surveillance on King, hoping to find evidence of Communist influence or sexual deviance. Using illegal wiretaps and warrantless searches, Hoover gathered a large file of what he considered damning evidence against King.
In 1971, COINTELPRO’s tactics were revealed to the public, showing that the agency’s methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planted evidence and false rumors leaked on suspected groups and individuals. Despite the harsh criticism Hoover and the Bureau received, he remained its director until his death on May 2, 1972, at the age of 77.
Does any of this sound familiar?
In December 2014, The Atlantic posted an article titled, “A Brief History of the CIA’s Unpunished Spying on the Senate.” Under that title is written, “President Obama’s choice to lead the intelligence agency has undermined core checks and balances with impunity.” Those are not encouraging words.
Below are some excerpts from The Atlantic article:
Late last week, that internal “accountability board” announced the results of its review. If you’ve followed the impunity with which the CIA has broken U.S. laws throughout its history, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that no one is going to be “dealt with very harshly” after all. “A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency’s search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.’s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode,” The New York Times reports. “The panel will make that recommendation after the five C.I.A. officials who were singled out by the agency’s inspector general this year for improperly ordering and carrying out the computer searches staunchly defended their actions, saying that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan.”
…Brennan and the CIA have behaved indefensibly. But substantial blame belongs to the overseers who’ve permitted them to do so with impunity, including figures in the Obama administration right up to the president and Senate intelligence committee members who, for all their bluster, have yet to react to CIA misbehavior in a way that actually disincentivizes similar malfeasance in the future. President Obama should fire John Brennan, as has previously been suggested by Senator Mark Udall, Trevor Timm, Dan Froomkin, and Andrew Sullivan. And the Senate intelligence committee should act toward the CIA like their predecessors on the Church Committee. Instead, the CIA is asked to investigate its own malfeasance and issue reports suggesting what, if anything, should be done.
The article includes a quote from The New York Times:
Mr. Brennan has enraged senators by refusing to answer questions posed by the Intelligence Committee about who at the C.I.A. authorized the computer intrusion. Doing so, he said, could compromise the accountability board’s investigation.
“What did he know? When did he know it? What did he order?” said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in an interview last week. “They haven’t answered those basic questions.”
The article concludes:
Senator Levin, you’re a member of a coequal branch. You’ve flagged outrageous behavior among those you’re charged with overseeing. What are you going to do about it?
Obviously nothing was done about it. John Brennan remained the head of the CIA until January 2017. He was not retained as the CIA Director when President Trump took power.
We are at a crossroads. This article indicates that the misuse of government spy agencies has been going on for a long time. The people responsible have never been held accountable. We have a choice–we can hold the people responsible for the misuse of spy agencies accountable or we can see the illegal spying on political enemies continue. What has been done to President Trump and some of the people around him could be done to any American if the people responsible are not held accountable. Was it really necessary to roust an unarmed senior citizen and his deaf wife out of bed with a S.W.A.T. team in the middle of the night when he was charged with lying? Unfortunately this could be the future of America.