CIA - The Company - SIlent Wars, Overthrowing Countries, The Secrets and Overall Breakdown of the Trade
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... what the Agency [CIA] does is ordered by the President and the NSC [National Security Council]. The Agency neither makes decisions on policy nor acts on its own account. It is an instrument of the President.
... the question of Congressional monitoring of intelligence activities and of the Agency in particular. The problem resides in the National Security Act of 1947 and also in its amendment, the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949. These laws charged the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] with protecting the 'sources and methods' of the US intelligence effort and also exempted the DCI and the Bureau of the Budget from reporting to Congress on the organization, function, personnel and expenditures of the CIA - whose budget is hidden in the budgets of other executive agencies. The DCI, in fact, can secretly spend whatever portion of the CIA budget he determines necessary, with no other accounting than his own signature. Such expenditures, free from review by Congress or the General Accounting Office or, in theory, by anyone outside the executive-branch, are called 'unvouchered funds'.
By passage of these laws Congress has sealed itself off from CIA activities, although four small sub-committees are informed periodically on important matters by the DCI. These are the Senate and House sub-committees of the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, and the speeches of their principal spokesman, Senator Richard Russell, are required reading for the JOT'S.
There have been several times when ClA autonomy was threatened. The Hoover Commission Task Force on Intelligence Activities headed by General Mark Clark recommended in 1955 that a Congressional Watchdog Committee be established to oversee the CIA much as the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy watches over the AEC. The Clark Committee, in fact, did not believe the sub-committees of the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees were able to exercise effectively the Congressional monitoring function. However, the problem was corrected, according to the Agency position, when President Eisenhower, early in 1956, established his own appointative committee to oversee the Agency. This is the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities, whose chairman is James R. Killian, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It can provide the kind of 'private citizen' monitoring of the Agency that Congress didn't want. Moreover ... the more Congress gets into the act the greater the danger of accidental revelation of secrets by indiscreet politicians. Established relationships with intelligence services of other countries, like Great Britain, might be complicated. The Congress was quite right at the beginning in giving up control - so much for them, their job is to appropriate the money.