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Jacob G. Hornberger

A Radical Question About the CIA in the Mainstream Press

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Several days ago, the New York Times, which of course epitomizes the mainstream press in America, asked a question that ordinarily would be found mainly on libertarian websites like that of The Future of Freedom Foundation. In the Room for Debate section of the Times’ Opinion Pages, the Times asked: “Do We Need the C.I.A.?” 

In the introduction to the debate, the Times pointed out:
Since Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan introduced bills in 1991 and 1995 to abolish the Central Intelligence Agency and transfer its powers to the State Department, many have continued to share his concerns about the agency’s competence and performance. The Senate intelligence committee’s report on the use of torture is the latest example of the agency’s controversies.
The Times concludes its introduction with this remarkable question:
Would the security needs of the United States be better served if the C.I.A. were dismantled?
That is a remarkable development. When was the last time you read that question being asked by anyone in the mainstream press? Wouldn’t we ordinarily see the question posed in the following manner: “Is It Time to Reform the CIA?”
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The Cold War Has Never Ended for the CIA

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In the midst of the CIA’s torture scandal, USAID continues its obsessive Cold War activity against Cuba, in a desperate attempt to finally, once and for all, oust the Castro regime from power and install another pro-U.S. dictatorship. 

Yes, I know how a conservative would immediately respond: “Jacob, the CIA and USAID are two separate and distinct entities. Why are you bringing them up in the same sentence?” 

Yeah, right, and I have a nice piece of fertile swampland in the Everglades I’d like to sell that conservative. USAID is one of the CIA’s favorite front organizations. By taking over some of the CIA’s regime-change operations under the guise of promoting “civil society,” USAID provides the CIA with “plausible deniability” with respect to its never-ending Cold War obsession over Cuba and other socialist regimes. 

The latest regime-change fiasco involves a pathetically comical attempt to secretly infiltrate Cuba’s hip-hop scene. According to an article in The Guardian, “The idea was to use Cuba’s rappers ‘to break the information blockade’ and build a network of young people seeking ‘social change’ to spark a youth movement against the government of Raul Castro.”
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Just Like the Stasi...

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Don’t you just love those Americans who celebrate how free they are under America’s national-security state system?

I wonder if such Americans also celebrated how free people were who lived under East Germany’s national-security state system.

I just read an interesting story in the New York Times about how the East German Stasi was confiscating art from wealthy East Germans. They would simply raid people’s homes, take valuable art, and then sell it, putting the money into the state’s coffers. According to the article, “between 1973 and 1989 the East German police, known as the Stasi, seized more than 200,000 objects in hundreds of raids.”

Why did the authorities do that? Because the government needed the money.

Why not simply raise taxes? Because people don’t like paying taxes. Anyway, why go through the taxing process when you can just barge into people’s homes and take their possessions?
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Reform the CIA? What Good Would That Do?

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After all, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, these two agencies operate in secret. Moreover, they know that they can do anything they want, including breaking the law, and that nothing will ever happen to them.

Suppose, for example, that Congress were to enact a law that prohibits the NSA from monitoring everyone’s email. Let’s assume that the NSA decides that monitoring people’s email is necessary for national security. Does anyone really think that the NSA is going to fail to protect national security, even if that means violating the law? In the minds of NSA officials, that’s their job — to protect national security, including when Congress takes actions that jeopardize national security.

It’s no different with the CIA. It’s going to do whatever is necessary to protect national security, even if that means breaking the law.

In the minds of NSA officials and CIA officials, national security is everything. Their attitude is: What good are the laws if the nation goes down? Their adage is: The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Let’s assume that the NSA and the CIA violate duly enacted laws that reform these two agencies. What will happen to the officials who knowingly break the laws?


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The United States Lost the Cold War

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As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, Americans remain more convinced than ever that the United States won the Cold War.

The Cold War brought us a national-security state, which consists of an enormous military establishment, a vast military-industrial complex, an empire of foreign and domestic military bases, ever-growing military budgets, and the ever-increasing militarization of American society.

In his Farewell Address in 1960, President Eisenhower pointed out that type of governmental system was alien to the American way of life. By that he meant that the national-security state was no part of America’s governmental system when the Constitution called the federal government into existence and for the next 160 years. It was called into existence for the sole purpose of waging the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Several days ago, the New York Times made a startling admission. Quoting a former high U.S. official, the Times pointed out that the communist regime in North Korea is also a national-security state.
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A Lesson in Intervention in Iraq

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The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out that one government intervention inevitably produces a crisis, which then causes government officials to enact a new intervention to address the crisis. The new intervention, however, produces a new crisis, which then necessitates a new intervention. With each new intervention, the government’s power continues to grow.

While Mises was referring to economic intervention, the principle applies in other areas. Good examples are the drug war, immigration controls, healthcare, and education, all areas that are characterized by a perpetual series of crises and interventions.

The principle also applies to foreign policy. Iraq provides a good example. Let’s examine the history of U.S. interventionism in Iraq.
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