The CIA, from its inception, carried out assassinations, coups, torture, and illegal spying and abuse, including of US citizens, many of which were exposed in 1975 by the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House. Congress attempted to enact laws to curb the widespread criminal activity by the CIA. Senate and House intelligence oversight committees were created, and after the Iran-Contra scandal a statutory Inspector General at the CIA was appointed. But this oversight has largely collapsed following the attacks of 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. The activities of the CIA have once again reverted to the shadows. The CIA, at the same time, has transformed itself into a paramilitary organization, with its own armed units and drone program. The US allocates a secret black budget of about $50 billion a year to hide multiple types of clandestine projects carried out by the National Security Agency, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies, usually beyond the scrutiny of Congress.
Chris Hedges and John Kiriakou discuss the CIA, how it has evolved, how it sees its mission, what it does, how it works, and the effects of its clandestine operations around the globe.
John Kiriakou worked for the CIA from 1990 to 2004, first as an analyst, and later as a counterterrorism operations officer overseas in Bahrain, Athens, and Pakistan, where he was the CIA’s chief of counterterrorist operations. He led a series of military raids on Al Qaeda safe houses in Pakistan, capturing dozens of suspects, including the 2002 raid that captured Abu Zubaydah, then thought to be the third-ranking member of Al Qaeda. He was also the first CIA officer to publicly confirm that the CIA waterboarded prisoners, and that such an action was torture. He also confirmed that torture was an official US government policy, rather than wrongdoing by a few rogue agents. He became the sixth whistleblower indicted under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration and was sent to prison for two and a half years.
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