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.
HR McMaster, born 1962, graduate of West Point
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