22 March, 2014

"Better CIA": What is the US Congress monitoring?

The CIA has broken the law. And the USA Congress is pissed off.  Senator Harry Reid has ordered an investigation.

Guess what the CIA answered?

"We are a far better organization because of congressional oversight, and we will do whatever we can to be responsive to the elected representatives of the American people," CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said.

Does that seem odd to you? The first line of that paragraph, I mean?

We are far better looking because we use Dove soap. And L’Oreal shampoo too. But that’s not the relationship between the Congress and the CIA, is it?

Isn’t there something called “checks and balances”, in which the CIA has to directly report to, and be legally accountable to, the US Congress? Surely the Congressional oversight is not just so the CIA can be “better”? If they wanted to be better, they could hire McKinsey and Company, or some management consultants to do the job, surely. Or they could go to church and confess their crimes.

Unfortunately for the CIA and fortunately for the American people (plus all the internationals who have, and are, being secretly tortured, subjected to illegal surveillance, and otherwise having their human rights violated by this good organization), there appears to be a larger accountability mechanism ingrained in the US democracy apparatus. Which has admittedly been dysfunctional (or probably completely co-opted) by the shadow government since the 1950s, but still, vestiges of US democracy sometimes show feeble signs of life.

As in, senate leader ordering investigation into the CIA hacking.

However, do not be unduly impressed by all this, since its clear even from the CIA that they view the Senate as a benign force that makes them “better”—and whose advice and oversight is nice, but not unduly something to  be worried about if they’ve been bad boys.

Of course, it is clear to 99% of the world that the CIA’s human rights violations have taken on the scale of crimes against humanity. The feeble US Congress and even feeble institutions of democracy and oversight (witness the “Donald Rumsfield is a charming man” documentary that Errol “Fog of War” Flynn has just come out with) point to institutions and individuals who are probably under enormous pressure and intimidation. Whether this intimidation is overt or covert, only the people themselves can say.

As Harry Reid himself said:
"The CIA has not only interfered with the lawful congressional oversight of its activities, but has also seemingly attempted to intimidate its overseers by subjecting them to criminal investigation," Reid said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by Reuters.

"These developments strike at the heart of the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, added.

It is clear that the international community needs to step up and start documenting what is surely some of the most egregious crimes of this century. It is also clear that the torture report itself is not the final world on what these good gentlemen have been up to. There are plenty of testimonies and evidence on the Web and elsewhere that the scale of their crimes are far deeper and graver than torture at Guantanamo (although that admittedly is bad enough.)

The Europeans continue to follow the Americans, even going so far as to imitate their bond program to bail out Greece. There was that little matter of rapping Vladimir Putin and his friends with sanctions—surely, you think, sanctions are a little pass√©, especially when it is clear that the poor benign dictator came into an unexpected windfall with the pro-active actions of the Americans, who instigated the disturbances in the Ukraine. A piece of Crimea just fell through the chimney in a nice Christmas stocking for Mr. Putin-and anybody watching this knows he owes this pleasantly unexpected windfall to his nemesis America.

Clearly at this point the whole capitalistic framework is suspect, if rich countries are blithely printing money in the hope that their symbolic clout and infallible value of the “Greenback” will continue to bring them giant returns in the form of international trade and exchange fees. And it is also clear that as long as this complicity of finance continues, the human rights violations, which grow larger and more unstoppable every day, will continue to spread throughout the world.

Will the Europeans react in any way? Not with them busy slapping sanctions on Russia and issuing bonds to bail out their weaker economic partners. As long as the webs of finance has wrapped itself around Europe’s head, it appears the Europeans will continue to have amnesia regarding their histories of fighting fascism.
But don’t be surprised—Europe after all is the continent that has seen the most virulent expressions of fascism, more than any other continent. Why  should we be surprised if they don’t protest the 21st century’s manifestations? They may be as deeply complicit in the USA's violations, as sporadic information regarding their ties to the USA's fascism-industry complex suggests.

Lets see how the US Congress takes on the CIA. Don’t be surprised if USA democracy has already breathed its last in the 9/11 moment. But lets give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there is a blip of life left in the good ole USA democratic mechanism of accountability.

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