CIA surveillance and torture activities undermine transparency

The CIA spars with the Senate on torture report findings.

Justin Yun, Writer

The Counterintelligence State is, according to Wikipedia, “a state where state security service penetrates and permeates all societal institutions including the military.” The term has been used to describe totalitarian nations such as the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, but it seems the CIA is turning American governmental institutions into the aforementioned apparatus, as the agency recently attacked the Senate’s recent report on torture. Coupled with the leaks revealed by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, the CIA has become an incredibly dangerous player in the War on Terror.

Enhanced interrogations

A recent article published by The Guardian state, “The CIA attack[ed] the Senate’s published findings on torture, a report that was the six years of work by Daniel Jones.” The Senate’s $40 million investigation into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” practices revealed a long dossier of torture and brutality, and now the CIA is striking back to protect their reputation. The article describes how “the CIA was not alone in attacking the report” and “the Senate committee’s Republicans, who had pulled out of the inquiry in September 2009, savaged it as a Democratic witchhunt — a critical boost for a CIA that wanted to avoid the narrative that it was pitted against the Senate.”

The CIA used methods such as rectal rehydration and waterboarding under the guise of “enhanced interrogations.” In a book titled “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a former detainee at Guantanamo, describes how the guards used torture methods such as stress positions, temperature extremes, sensory deprivation and fake firing squads. CIA agents did not carry out torture on Slahi, but the methods used on him were developed and proliferated by the intelligence agency. The CIA has a very nasty and dark history of developing torture methods and the infamous “sensory deprivation” that can be traced back to the Cold War.

Constitutional crisis

The CIA has always been known to many non-Americans for spreading terror and political sabotage in Latin America and Africa during the Cold War, but it seems as if they have gone rogue when it comes to dealing with the Senate. Two years ago, the CIA was caught spying on officials responsible for investigating the CIA. Senator Dianne Feinstein discussed how she had “grave concerns” for the spy agency’s domestic spying on the people appointed to keep the organization in check. Another article by The Guardian describes the conflict between the CIA and the Senate as a “constitutional crisis.”

The most dangerous aspect of this conflict is the fact most Americans are unaware of what is going on in the capital of the most powerful military empire in modern history. It seems as if many of my friends and fellow peers continue to see the CIA as a noble spy agency run by an elite group of Jason Bournes and James Bonds. In an article by Pew Research from Aug. 2011, 53 percent of Americans said torture could be justified while only 42 percent said it could rarely or not be justified.

This is disheartening news to anyone familiar with the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programs and “black sites” — secret torture centers hidden in airports and military bases. It is time for the American public to find new ways to take away the CIA’s carte blanche in both domestic and international affairs.

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