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No Accountability in Washington. The CIA Wants to Hide All Its Employees

• http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org

Government that actually serves the interests of the people who are governed has two essential characteristics: first, it must be transparent in terms of how it debates and develops policies and second, it has to be accountable when it fails in its mandate and ceases to be responsive to the needs of the electorate. Over the past twenty years one might reasonably argue that Washington has become less a "of the people, by the people and for the people" and increasingly a model of how special interests can use money to corrupt government.

The recent story about how serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided any serious punishment by virtue of his wealth and his political connections, including to both ex-president Bill Clinton and to current chief executive Donald Trump, demonstrates how even the most despicable criminals can avoid being brought to justice.

This erosion of what one might describe as republican virtue has been exacerbated by a simultaneous weakening of the US Constitution's Bill of Rights, which was intended to serve as a guarantee of individual liberties while also serving as a bulwark against government overreach. In recent cases in the United States, a young man had his admission to Harvard revoked over comments posted online when he was fifteen that were considered racist, while a young woman was stripped of a beauty contest title because she refused to don a hijab at a college event and then wrote online about her experience. In both cases, freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment was ruled to be inadmissible by the relevant authorities.

Be that as it may, governmental lack of transparency and accountability is a more serious matter when the government itself becomes a serial manipulator of the truth as it seeks to protect itself from criticism. Reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seeking legislation that will expand government ability to declare it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover intelligence agents will inevitably lead to major abuse when some clever bureaucrat realizes that the new rule can also be used to hide people and cover up malfeasance.

A law to protect intelligence officers already exists. It was passed in 1982 and is referred to as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA). It criminalizes the naming of any CIA officer under cover who has served overseas in the past five years. The new legislation would make the ban on exposure perpetual and would also include Agency sources or agents whose work is classified as well as actual CIA staff employees who exclusively or predominantly work in the United States rather than overseas.

The revised legislation is attached to defense and intelligence bills currently being considered by Congress. If it is passed into law, its expanded range of criminal penalties could be employed to silence whistleblowers inside the Agency who become aware of illegal activity and it might also be directed against journalists that the whistleblowers might contact to tell their story.
 

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