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Why Not Simply Abolish the CIA?


If anyone thinks that CIA Director John Brennan is going to be severely punished for lying about the CIA’s hacking into the computers of members of Congress who were investigating torture inflicted on people by the CIA, think again. It’s not going to happen. Everyone knows that lying is the official policy of the CIA and a well-established, accepted custom, much as it is for the rest of the U.S. national-security state.

Indeed, don’t forget Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s false statements to Congress, in which he lied about the NSA’s surveillance of Americans. Unlike private citizen Martha Stewart, who received a felony conviction and a 6-month jail sentence for lying to federal agents, Clapper got a complete pass — no investigation, no indictment, no trial, no conviction, no sentencing, no fine. That’s because of the wall of protection that has been built around the national-security state apparatus—i.e., the military and the CIA—a wall of protection that has only gotten stronger and more fortified over the decades.

Did any CIA agent get indicted for torturing people? No.

Did any CIA agent get indicted for destroying the videotapes that showed the torture? No.

Did any CIA agent get indicted for murdering prisoners in Abu Graib prison in Iraq? No.

No one in Washington is going to tangle with the most powerful agency within the federal government, one that can secretly murder people, on grounds of “national security,
and not have to be concerned about being indicted or prosecuted for it.

It’s nothing new. Recall the murders of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi in Chile in 1973 as part of the military coup that the CIA had orchestrated through its partnership with the Chilean military. Did any CIA official or U.S. military official get indicted for playing in role in the murders of those two Americans or for the murders of some 3,000 Chileans or for the torture of thousands more?

Of course not. That’s because the killings were committed as part of a “national-security” operation  and any agents who participated in them are immune from prosecution.

Even the federal judiciary knows not to tangle with the CIA. When Horman’s widow filed suit for wrongful death against the U.S. government, the judiciary bent over backwards to defend the wall of secrecy and protection that the national-security state, including the CIA, has built around its operations. The federal judiciary summarily threw Joyce Horman’s suit out of court, without even permitting her to take depositions.

The same with Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdullrahman, two more Americans assassinated by the U.S. national-security state. When Awlaki’s father sought a pre-assassination injunction to prevent the murder of his son, the federal judiciary threw his suit out of court. When the Awlaki family later filed suit for wrongful death, the judiciary did the same thing again.

Everyone, including federal judges, knows not to push the CIA too far. It’s too powerful. It’s too influential, especially in combination with the U.S. military, the other half of the national-security state apparatus.

Consider the fact that the CIA continues its steadfast refusal to release all its records relating to the coup in Chile and the murders of Horman and Teruggi, notwithstanding the fact that President Clinton ordered all such records to be released in the 1990s. The CIA says that “national security” would be threatened if such records were released. It, not the president, decides what was going to be released.

It’s no different with respect to the CIA’s records relating to the John Kennedy Assassination. Notwithstanding the JFK Records Act enacted more than 20 years ago, which mandated the release of all such records, the CIA got a pass. It still won’t release its JFK records, including those relating to CIA agent George Joannides.

No one is going to force the CIA to divulge its records on JFK, Horman, and Teruggi. The CIA is too powerful for that.

Moreover, if the records are incriminatory, everyone knows that the CIA will simply destroy them, as they did with the torture videotapes, records relating to MKULTRA, and records relating to the drug experiments that the CIA inflicted on unknowing people. Nobody was prosecuted for those things.

Consider the case in Italy in which several CIA agents got prosecuted and convicted for kidnapping. Did the U.S. government send them back to Italy to face justice? On the contrary, it shielded them from justice, arguing that they were just protecting “national security,” one of the most ridiculous, meaningless terms in the English language.

In the days ahead, you’ll be reading all sorts of editorials, op-eds, and articles about Brennan and the CIA. You don’t have to read them in their entirety. Just read their final paragraph. It will say: “The CIA needs to be reformed.”

That’s just nonsense. The CIA doesn’t need reform, it needs abolition. It is impossible to reconcile the CIA with the principles of a free society. With its long-term programs of detention, torture, assassination, regime-change operations, coups, terrorism, surveillance, and the like, the CIA is characteristic of totalitarian regimes. It has no place in the United States of America, especially since its original justification—the Cold War—disintegrated more than two decades ago.

More than 60 years ago, the CIA was brought into existence, supposedly as a means of fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union, which shortly before that had been America’s WWI partner and ally. Permitting the CIA and, for that matter, the vast military empire and military-industrial complex, to come into existence has fundamentally altered American society, for the worse.

We can debate whether it was wise and prudent to call the CIA into existence to fight the Cold War. What is indisputable is the fact that the Cold War ended in 1989 while the CIA continued onward. It’s time for Americans to do what they should have done a long time ago—abolish, not reform, the CIA. It’s time to put a stop to the lying, murdering, assassinating, spying, torturing, and detaining. They have no place in America.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.