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Sacrificing Liberty for Safety

Benjamin Franklin said “They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” It is thus with some sadness that we read two very well written articles found in a rather unlikely website — TechDirt.

The article “Nancy Pelosi Admits That Congress Is Scared Of The CIA” should terrify anyone who knows anything about the CIA (even just the things that it has admitted doing).

Congress has the important job of providing oversight to the CIA, and yet the CIA has lied repeatedly to Congress. But it gets worse. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is on the intelligence committee, spoke out because the CIA was spying on the people on that committee. There is also evidence that the CIA is blackmailing Congress. And former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi admitted that Congress was afraid of the CIA because if you speak out against them “they come after you and they don’t always tell the truth.”

Which brings us to another article “Senate Republicans, Trying To Score Political Points, Claim Democrats Revealing Spying Scandal Puts Lives At Risk“, which to me provides evidence that backs up the accusations that the CIA is blackmailing Congress. Republican members of the intelligence committee responded by falsely saying that complaints by Democratic members of the intelligence committee about the CIA spying on Congress had put the lives of people in danger. Not only are they not the least bit worried that the CIA is has clandestine operations against the people whose job it is to oversee them, they seem to think that any limit on the CIA is bad. They are trading liberty for security.

What makes this even worse is that the Republican senator who defended the CIA against any oversight is the same person who would likely take over the intelligence committee if the Republicans take control of the senate.

So my question is, which is it? Does the CIA have something on these clowns, or are they just willing to say anything to score cheap political points against Democrats?

UPDATE: Former president Jimmy Carter believes that his private communications are being spied upon.



  1. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    And what does the White House say about it, given that they control the head of the organization? Or is the President equally scared?

    If, the President is scared, he should immediately call the attorney general and the secretary of defense. If the CIA is acting on orders of the president, then the whole thing doesn’t make any sense unless Pelosi and Feinstein are suddenly on the list of people he doesn’t like. Or are Pelosi and Feinstein trying to muddy the waters on Republicans ahead of the November elections?

    Ah, at last. An endless list of possible conspiracies. Somebody write a novel please.

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink
  2. luptin pitman wrote:

    Why is Techdirt an unlikely place to find well written articles? Techdirt is a fantastic resource for information about a number of topics and always has been. This is just par for the course as far as I can see.

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  3. westomoon wrote:

    “Senate Republicans, Trying To Score Political Points, Claim Democrats Revealing Spying Scandal Puts Lives At Risk”

    Oh, that’s just intolerable, coming from the people who carelessly outed Valerie Plame as collateral damage in a partisan political move to discredit her husband’s findings — lives were definitely lost, and the exact HumInt network we needed to have in place was blown apart, just as we needed it most.

    On the larger topic — the CIA (along with the NSA) tends to answer to no one, and it’s pretty obvious that they are in full spate on that front. We tried in the 1970’s to rein them in, with first the Rockefeller Commission and then the Church Committee. The latter put stringent controls on the intel agencies, which they — and the “conservatives” of the day — hotly resented.

    The Bush-Cheney administration had a strange relationship with the CIA — both demanding specific findings from them, and taking them off their leash to an unprecedented degree. In Bush’s second term, I remember reading a brief mention in the Wa Post that CIA professionals were taking out individual liability insurance; by two years later, the Agency had found a way to pay for that insurance for its employees. That by itself was a very clear signal that the CIA was running amok.

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink
  4. westomoon wrote:

    Forget to mention this part: “They are trading liberty for security.”

    If the CIA had been at all effective in forewarning us of any of the major geopolitical events of the past 25 years, you could make this claim. Since their batting average seems to be pretty much zilch on that score, we’re trading liberty for … a huge, expensive, dangerous, lawless, completely autonomous industry that does awful things in our name and seems not to add one whit to our safety.

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  5. Hassan wrote:

    Rand Paul gave good speech at UC Berkeley on NSA, worth watching. (youtube)

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Luptin, maybe “unlikely” was not the best word. I read TechDirt for technical articles. I was bemoaning the fact that we don’t seem to be getting good articles like this from those organizations who are supposed to be reporting the news in this country.

    Monday, March 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink