The Right

Hysteria: Part Deux

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
As a member of the 1959 Whittier High School football team. | Richard Nixon, Football, 1959, President,

Executive Authority

(Following part one)
J. Edgar Hoover allegedly maintained a cache of secret files with which he blackmailed Washington politicians. In 1960, on the eve of a scheduled presidential visit to the Soviet Union, a highly anticipated event that promised a new era in US-Soviet relations, President Eisenhower ordered Francis Gary Powers' ill-fated U2 flight. An outraged Nikita Khrushchev canceled the visit. A few years later, President Kennedy ordered to CIA to find a way to assassinate Fidel Castro with the assistance of the Mafia and abandoned a CIA-trained and financed invasion force on the beach at the Bay of Pigs. Later reporting would reveal plans for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo, and the Diem brothers.

Richard Nixon used former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt to organize the Watergate break-in and then tried to convince DCI Dick Helms to help him cast the blame on the Agency. Helms refused, and Nixon fired him. President Obama still won't own up to what the CIA was doing in Benghazi and now has placed his man in the DCI position and another White House insider to the number two position at CIA.

In the preceding article I expounded on the virtues of the men and women who populate America's intelligence community. The Intelligence Community, as part of the Executive Branch, is subject to the desires of the President of the United States. Inevitably perhaps, politics comes into play, especially in the hothouse that is Washington.

In 1975, the investigations of the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, otherwise known as the Church Committee, coined the still popular phrase, "rogue" operations. If the foregoing enumeration of intelligence-related scandals demonstrates anything, it is that so-called "rogue" operations were conducted according to the desires of the White House. One of the results of the 1970's investigations was President Ford's Executive Order 11905 that banned sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders. (Conversely, under President Obama, another executive order permits targeted killings of foreigners, sometimes on sovereign territory, by armed drones.)

Predator Drone
Predator Drone

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). | Photo: General Atomics |
More robust congressional oversight of intelligence operations was introduced to curb the unrestricted ability of the Executive to run clandestine operations. But under the current administration Executive authority has been elevated, possibly to a dangerous level. And when it suits political purposes, classified information is leaked selectively to the press.

Congressional oversight is effectively thwarted as demonstrated by the fact that over a year has passed since the Benghazi disaster, and no one has yet been held accountable. The IRS from all accounts was used in the run up to the 2012 elections to suppress voter turn-out. The Justice Department has become an arm of the President's political machine.

Although the patriotism, courage, and integrity of our cadre of intelligence professionals is not in doubt, the danger today, as in years past, emanates from politicians who are easily tempted to misuse intelligence and executive powers over other governmental agencies. Is it possible for the Executive and his appointees to coerce government employees and politicians to toe the line? Is it possible that the NSA and others could be used to gather information for this purpose? I hope not, but then I remember J. Edgar Hoover and his secret files. If anything, the Snowden and Manning treacheries demonstrate that it only takes one well-placed, motivated individual to mine the information that is too easily available.

Drone by Obama
Drone by Obama

President Obama unveiled a controversial plan today to go after the people who hate America the most: Republican senators and congressmen. In a rare midday Oval Office speech, the President outlined a series of steps "to hunt down those who would damage this country and do it irreparable harm. I do hope Mitch McConnell is listening right now." | Photo: Aaron Stipkovich | Drone, Uav, Barack Obama, Unmanned, War, Weapon, Surveillance, Terrorism, Spy, Technology,

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 6:00 AM EDT | More details

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