The Church on time

The last and only time that elected officials looked closely at the abuse of intelligence privileges for political purposes was when the "Church Committee," headed by Senator Frank Church of Idaho, produced its report in 1975. The activities uncovered included not just efforts to assassinate international leaders and destabilise governments around the world, but also another question that has been gathering attention recently: the use of intelligence powers to spy on US citizens. A selection of Church Committee documents is available in PDF form online. It would seem to make for timely reading again.

The director of the CIA at the time when the Church Committee issued its report was one George Bush. The secretary of defence was some guy named Donald Rumsfeld. Frank Church lost his reelection bid in 1980 and passed away in 1984, and neither of the others has been heard from since.


blahblahblah said...

Surprise! This is standard US policy to this day and it shouldn't surprise anyone. Any entity will do as much in its own (perceived) interest as it can get away with.

Only a few years ago the US enthusiastically supported a coup against Chavez (no, I don't like him either, but he was democratically elected, which is supposedly the most important thing to the US), which didn't turn out to be the smartest move when the coup failed. What surprises me is not that these things happen, but that 95% of people seem to think that "our" side is above assassination, pathological lying, propaganda etc Even most people who see right through Bush and Blair don't realize that all their past governments have probably done things as bad, or worse...

coturnix said...

Bruce Schneier on the Project Shamrock is interesting.

Nick Miller said...

Here in Idaho (and I believe outside Idaho, but we Idahoans don't actually get out much, so I'm not sure), after 9-1-1, our Republican panderers blamed Church for emasculating our intelligence capabilities, which resulted, they argued, in the successful attacks. Strange how what seems so obvious to one side can seem so wrong to the other -- clearly, blaming Church was no mere rhetorical excess.

Hi Eric!

Eric Gordy said...

Howdy, Nick! Greetings from Massachusetts to Idaho! I raise a glass of Moose Drool to you! Wallace, ID is the only place I have been where everybody recognised our dog (not a rare breed, but not one of the most popular ones either) -- apparently the local mail carrier has a Schipperke, and she brings it along when she does her rounds.

The big findings of the Church committee were basically, 1) weird international adventurism including assassination attempts, 2) massive incursions into privacy as a part of large-scale "fishing expeditions," and 3) political parties treating the intelligence agencies as a private property to harass opponents. One of the results was the FISA law, which imposed the not very strenuous requirement of getting a judge to issue a warrant before going through people's mail and electronic communication. If the Bushies had bothered to meet this very easy requirement, they may not have violated the law. But this is where Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest of them come in: they thought any sort of law was an unjustified restriction of executive power.

Now, everyone go and read Nick's book: