Home Uncategorized Covert Operations of the US. Are They Legal?

Covert Operations of the US. Are They Legal?


trump Shortly after inauguration, President Trump visits Langley

by Mary W Maxwell, LLB

In the March 18 article at Gumshoe, “What Matters More: Impunity Or Immunity?” I mentioned two cases of CIA’s purported right to do something illegal: to import drugs as a way of getting ransom money for hostages (“the Iran/Contra affair”) and engaging in real estate scams to fund black ops.

Now I’d like to look more generally at the legitimacy, or lack of legitimacy, of governmental secret operations. I have never researched ASIO, but in the US a famous inspection of the CIA was carried out by Senator Frank Church, in 1975. This made information accessible, thank God. Covert groups are inherently inaccessible.

Senator Church’s interest was that of a parent. I’m referring to the fact that Congress had given birth to the CIA, by statute. Frank knew his rights and responsibilities as a Daddy, so to speak.

In the making of the US Constitution, in 1787, the state delegates gave the federal government specific powers. They clearly gave the president the task of seeing that the law was carried out. They clearly gave Congress the right to pass laws  — “federal laws” — whose enforcement might would become the president’s responsibility.

National Security Act

Fast-forward 160 years: Congress passed the National Security Act in 1947. This piece of legislation created the entity we call the Central Intelligence Agency. Hence the CIA is a “statutory body.” As it was created by statute, Congress retains some control over its functioning.

But Congress does not have day-to-day control over statutory bodies. They are typically housed in the Executive branch. Officials of statutory bodies are appointed by the president, subject to senate approval.

So what is the CIA? It is an intelligence organization. It gathers intelligence. Is it military? No. There is a parallel body, the Defense Intelligence Agency (said to dwarf the CIA).

Question, is the DIA under Congressional control? Sure. One of the 18 grants of power to the federal government, all of which are listed in Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution, is the power of Congress “to raise and support Armies.”

But I hear you say the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces (as is the Governor-General in Australia). Sorry, but that does not make the president the controller of what Congress legislated in the National Security Act, NSA.

The president’s job, per Article II of the Constitution, includes that he “shall take Care that the Laws are faithfully executed.”  (He swears an oath “to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution….)

The CIA’s Proper Job

To know what the CIA is allowed to do, we look at the wording of the 1947 NSA plus any amendments thereto. Its mission, clearly stated, is to collect intelligence. The Act did not provide authority to conduct covert operations.

I should say that points 1-4 of the Act referred to collecting intelligence, whilst point 5 was one of those “you can do anything related to the above” type catch-all’s. It is called the Fifth Function. I don’t know if it ever got challenged in court but of course it should have been, if only in the grounds that you can’t enact a law whose contents are anyone’s guess.

Going only on the wording of the 1947 legislation, I hereby state my opinion that covert actions by the CIA were illegal. I mean they were not authorized by Congress.

Later, in 2004, during the administration of President George W Bush — when everyone was busy reacting to “what those terrible Muslins did on 9-11” — Congress passed The National Security Intelligence Reform Act. This created the position of National Director of Intelligence, a position higher than the Director of the CIA. His/her job is codified at 50 USC 3023:

(a) Director of National Intelligence

(1) There is a Director of National Intelligence who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.

(2) The Director of National Intelligence shall not be located within the Executive Office of the President. [!!!]

(b) Principal responsibility

Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the President, [that authority being, as I just said, to take care that the laws are faithfully executed], the Director of National Intelligence shall —

(1) serve as head of the intelligence community [Fancy that];

(2) act as the principal adviser to the President, to the National Security Council,

[the National Security Council is none other than the president, vice-president, and Secretaries of State and Defense — in 2004 that was Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld]

and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security.

(3) …oversee and direct the implementation of the National Intelligence Program.

In fact in 1954 Eisenhower had created the position “National Security Advisor.” Warning: I am out of my depth here as I do not know what the job means, but the fact that it has been held by such traitors as Kissinger, Brzezinski, and Carlucci, makes me guess that all of them are working for World Government and not for the United States.

The National Security Advisors, for Eisenhower up to Trump are:

Dillon Anderson, William Jackson, Robert Cutler, Gordon Grav, McGeorge Bundy, William Rostow, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Allen, William Clark, John Poindexter, Frank Carlucci, Colin Powell, Anthony Lake, Sandy Berger, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, James Jones, Thomas Donilon, Susan Rice, and HR McMaster.

mcmasterHR McMaster, born 1962, graduate of West Point

 Current Situation

The newest one, McMaster, was appointed by President Trump on February 20, 2017. He was in the Gulf War and also in the Hoover Institution. McMaster is in the US Army and says he will continue to hold his army job while being National Security advisor.

That tells me that his approach is strictly military and that he would not be able to even contemplate what Americans really need for their security. Most likely he thinks they need more Watertown-style home invasions. (I wish I was kidding.)

I think we are very lucky to live in the Internet Age where we can compare notes on what “our” officials are doing. Before 1990 we could not do this. Yet my response is – sorry if I am being boring – identical to what it would have been pre-1990.

I mean I’m not impressed by the “sophisticated” machinations of the big wigs.  All human societies have leaders and it should be expected by the people that the leaders care about society. If instead they are off on another mission they are traitors and should be treated the way we traditionally treat traitors.

What is the US policy on covert operations? We have found out through dissidents and whistle blowers that the US and other nations created a “popular” resistance to Mosaddegh in Iran in 1954, gave Augusto Pinochet the backing to kill Allende in Chile in 1973, and a host of other operations.

In those days I was ignorant of the goings on of my American government. But now that I know that “our” hostility to Allende was that he was pinko, and that the capitalist-pinko combination was always  …um … a “combination,” not a confrontation, I’ll have to say that the coverts did wrong.

I say it won’t do to just catalogue the goings-on of the powerful. They have so many fantastic weapons. We have at least one great weapon – law, and should enforce it.

We also have each other. We also have the drives provided by the emotion of righteous anger. We also have the drive, which I think is the same drive that the top dogs are using — the instinct to survive.

We are hardly helpless!

–Mary W Maxwell will follow this up with a discussion of the legality of  “emergency powers” that are all the go today

Photo credit: reuters





  1. I didn’t read all your post Mary. Not because I did not want to, but that I didn’t need to. My appraisal of Western intelligence services, including our own, is that they have become a rogue element in geopolitical Chess moves that endanger, not only the country that pays for them, but the entire world.

    All countries should have an intelligence arm for diplomatic/defence purpose, but what happens when that intelligence arm becomes entwined with other foreign intelligence services that no longer respect sovereign nations, including their own? Then one might then say, Houston, we have a bloody big problem!

    I believe that most folk have heard of the CIA, but how many would know how the CIA really operates and how intelligence services control the very governments that they are chartered to obey?

    There is a book which I believe is still available and titled, ‘The Secret Team, The CIA and its Allies in control of the United States and the World’, by L. Fletcher Prouty.

    This book exposes what the CIA does and how the CIA circumvents even Presidential executive orders and goes into how the CIA manages funds and its ‘national security’ concerns without ever appraising Congress of what it does. Does that sound to you like a rogue organization?

    Also, there is another book titled, ‘The Secret War against the Jews’, by John Ashcroft and Mark Aarons. This book exposes how Western intelligence has become compromised through British intelligence infatuation with all things Islamic that has had a huge impact on what we have to put up with today.

    If you cannot afford to buy them, then at least find someone who has them, and read how the world is being manipulated by rogue Western intelligence services.

  2. Thank you in particular, Nemesis, for this bit:

    “What happens when that intelligence arm becomes entwined with other foreign intelligence services that no longer respect sovereign nations, including their own?”

    Entwined is the word. Many seem to work for each other. A New Zealand ex-spy says that there was a market for, say, East German spies, to sell their wares to anyone in the 1990s.

    Re the above photo of Trump, the story that went with it was that when he was standing at the Memorial Wall for fallen CIA members, he did not show enough respect.

    Do the fallen really deserve honor? Why did they work for CIA? Did they never care about the legality? How come they were weren’t moved to do a good whistle blower job re MK-Ultra?

    • Once we can get our heads around how Western intelligence services are directing policy then we need to investigate who controls all the Western intelligence services into doing their bidding and through them, all world governments.

      Churchill once quipped; ‘When people find out who controls this world, and after they pick themselves up and dust themselves off, they carry on as if nothing happened.’

      If we wish to gain back some control over all our lives then the above attitude to life itself needs to change.

      Folks need to take on board that throughout Western history there has only ever been three examples of the ‘serfs’ taking back some control from those who were riding roughshod over them, and they are; Magna Carta, The English Bill of Rights, 1688, and the American Constitution.

  3. A few of us do know what morality the CIA has and MI5/6 Mossad and so it goes on, they all become radicalized in training at University and the culture they grow up in, the power the money all becomes their drug, some know they have sold out, but its all so exciting, to meet the opposite sex and play the game, a few would know behind the mask how boring they are..

  4. This is where I think a Constitutional amendment is in order. No agency, department, individual, or group of any kind shall be created by any member of any branch of the government that is not directly accountable to the people. And while we’re at it, I think I’d also like to make it unconstitutional for the government to contract any social service to a private business or individual since those organizations are not accountable to the people. I’d also like to make it easier and more expedient to prosecute impeachment, treason, and related cases.

    I read an article earlier today about David Rockefeller and his legacy: http://www.globalresearch.ca/david-rockefeller-a-dark-legacy-in-brazil-a-critical-obituary/5580989, which spells out a lot of the machinations perpetrated by this man, his relatives, and others, during his lifetime. The extent of his malevolent interference in our world is staggering!

    • Dear Spec, The above article is the third of three that came about directly from your comment to my “What Hath Martin Bryant Wrought” article.

      It appears to me that you were brought up in the same culture as myself, which looks to the Constitution as a guide to “what should be.” Hence, for example, my current article plows through the confusion about what the government can and cannot do in regard to covert operations. Bottom line: it cannot do covert operations.

      Yet that is not where the reaction should end. We cannot today say “Oh, a new constitutional amendment would fix certain problems.” Not on your Nellie! There is a secret group who defy our law in every way. They are bold and we are no match for them – so far.

      You say impeachment should be more expeditious. It is already wondrously expeditious. The House of Reps in Washington could dump Boston’s Judge George O’Toole from his federal judgeship this week. (I mean they could impeach, by mere majority vote — 219 of the 435 reps, or less if some absent.) Then the Senate would have to convict, by a 2/3 majority of those voting. George would have no comeback; there is no appeal.

      Wait, doesn’t Art III sec 1, say “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior”? Yes, judges have “tenure.” But they stop having tenure the minute Congress impeaches them.

      The first US judge to be impeached was a district judge from NH, That was in 1804. His sin? Disregarding the terms of the statutes. Gee, nothing like Pizzagate which involves many judges. Nothing like the Marathon trial’s chicanery either.

      What I am saying, Spec, is that you can’t wait for “all nice things to happen.” Politics is political. Power is frightening. The only way you are going to break through the problems you mention is to fight.

      I challenge you to make an appointment with your rep now – in any state – and ask her to propose the impeachment of O’Toole. It takes only one Rep to propose impeachment. He/she is supposed to put it “in the legislative hopper” (ha ha, which is not what you think).

      Let Gumshoe know you have done this and we will then step up the pressure on that Congressperson and the rest of them. For instance, we will follow its progress “in committee” naming the name of every member of that committee.

      Don’t wait for “somebody” to do it. You are that somebody.

      • I do not contact my “representatives” anymore because they have proven to be very much in on the shenanigans. I have no representatives in this government. That avenue is a dead end.

        Yes, the government is full, and I mean FULL, of crooks at this time.

        I can’t say what’s going to happen to change things, but this method will not do.

    • Great insight the reference in blue, strange to say those of this ideology are not regarded as terrorists, is it surprising we now have ISIS, made, formed by our system and on the doorstep of Westminster, what does it tell you?

  5. The more consumers created , in the global cities via wars refuges and mass -migration , clearly the profits from the debt system keep increasing to infinity .
    Our late grandparents were mostly self sufficient producers or had real tradeable skills .
    Today we have Amazon and 99% computer robot operated machinery producing and distributing .
    Debt and housing are interwoven and war is good for business .

    • We owe much to the our past generations who slaved for us, we now have a higher standard of living as a result, most people today have no idea as to this historical fact, here in Australia when I look at the standard of building say houses, it is if you can rate it as so, third rate compared to houses I once owned in London of the Victorian period.
      Say no more.

      • If one can go back even further in history beyond the Romans and the Greeks, then one can see that the ancients used huge stone blocks as building material because they found stone easy to work with and cost effective.

        Fast forward to the ‘enlightened’ 21st Century and nearly all houses built today have a quarter century life expectancy – yet will cost more to build than longer lasting houses of a century ago.

        As for workmanship – that is now almost an extinct species.

        • Yes , 25 years house life expectancy , with a one year warranty.
          Built from treated pine that’s termite proof that ends up killing the tradesmen instead (Really there’s no termites cause in all modern housing blocks all trees are cleared ).
          Today the houses can be built for 100 to 200k . Then the connected want 500k for a 500sq. metre block that they stole from the real owners of this great land .Then the banksters want 1.4 million interest for the 700 k loan .
          $2.1 million for sticks gyprock and blueboard etc. for a shed that can never be payed for unless one is connected .
          It is beyond tragic what this place has become in the past 30 years . Debt slavery !

          • A so called house made from wood sticks and corrugated iron made in Australia a sort of glorified shed to be paid off over 30 years if your luck holds out, health, mental and physical and if your luck further holds out to the ravages of financial scams, divorce and attempting to find meaning in your existence? you may survive to you get to the nursing home, by then euthanasia may be in.
            On the other hand a thought that may be that death is not a way out of suffering, after all if you come from nothing and are born into a life of great advantage, when you die maybe death is just another vehicle to another fate of unpleasantries, I mean if the Universe does collapse to the same singular point and the Big Bang ensues, all of every thing is a outcome of the machine and sameness.

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