Here at Capitol Hill Daily, we go to great lengths to report on the government’s abuse of power. From the IRS and NSA to license plate tracking and Obamacare, we’ve been there every time the government has stepped out of line.
Which is why this latest story about unchecked abuses of power is so interesting. You see, for once, the government isn’t spying on us!
This time, the government is spying on itself.
More specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been monitoring the computers used by Congress’ Senate Intelligence Committee. (Not coincidentally, that’s the same Senate group responsible for overseeing the CIA’s actions.)
And Congress isn’t exactly thrilled about the violation of privacy, which was originally agreed upon by both parties. In fact, the inspector general’s office has referred the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.
Lack of Oversight Leads Down a Slippery Slope
What would cause the CIA to do something as brazen as spying on its own oversight committee?
Well, it all stems from the Agency’s secret detention and interrogation program – including the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” – that was employed during the George W. Bush administration.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has spent four years working on a detailed report to determine whether any sliver of valuable intelligence was gathered using these controversial techniques. Those who have seen the report say that it’s “searing” and that it severely criticizes the CIA’s actions.
In response, the CIA has gone into damage control mode. Turns out, the Agency would prefer to write its own history of the controversial detention program. And it has attempted to keep the details a secret from the Intelligence Committee… and, therefore, from the American people, as well.
This, of course, makes one wonder what the Agency is so keen to hide.
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But more importantly, something that started as petty bickering between two government circles has now breached the levees, becoming an important dispute over separation of powers and spy agency oversight.
Perhaps no one summed up the situation better than Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. Anders said:
|“If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers. The CIA is prohibited from spying in the United States itself, and there can be few greater violations of that rule than spying on congressional staff carrying out the constitutional duty of being a check on the CIA’s powers. CIA surveillance of Congress would be another sign that the intelligence community has come to believe that they’re above the law and should get only deference from the other branches of government, not the meaningful oversight that’s required by the Constitution.”|
In order to maintain a democratic government, such oversight – in the form of checks and balances – is required. Without any oversight, well… it doesn’t take much imagination to picture a rogue agency that’s above the law. Just think of the Gestapo.
Therefore, the Intelligence Committee should vote to declassify its report on the detention program so that the American people can see what the CIA is trying to hide. On top of that, the Justice Department must pursue its investigation of the CIA’s illegal spying. Because if Congress can’t keep this country’s spy agencies in check, then who can?
The abuse has gone on too long. It’s time for our representatives on Capitol Hill to put at least one spy agency in its place.
In Pursuit of the Truth,