If you thought that the revelations by Edward Snowden and others about US intelligence agencies’ exploits had caused the agencies to tone down their actions, you’d be dead wrong. In fact, it seems like nothing has changed. Despite getting smacked around in Washington and in the court of public opinion, the CIA and its brethren continue to operate as though nothing has changed.
This came to light after a letter written nearly a year ago by two top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee to the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA Director was partially declassified and published. In the letter, the two Senators accused the CIA of continuing to make bulk collections of data that included information on American citizens, and of operating that program outside of any legal or oversight framework.
In essence, they’re accusing the agency of going rogue and operating on its own, without regard to proper legal protections and procedures. While it’s worrying that such activity is still going on, it’s not entirely surprising.
Leaders in Washington have long been hesitant to take on the intelligence community. That may be a holdover from the days in which FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover collected dossiers on top politicians, with an eye to keeping them out of his business by collecting private and sensitive information about them.
No one knows exactly what the CIA is collecting and about whom, but it’s still disconcerting that it’s happening. And as we all saw over the past few years, as the intelligence community did its best to drive President Trump from office, the intelligence community thinks that it’s in control, and not the elected government. I hate to say it but, if our politicians in Washington can’t get a handle on the intelligence community and actually effectively oversee its activities, the intelligence agencies may very well be right that they’re the ones who are really in charge.